A Dream of Death

Weeds choke the life from the grassy hill, a forgotten clearing in the forest. I’m standing next to her, and the sea breeze is blowing her long silver hair into her face, obscuring her sharp features. In the distance, I can faintly hear the surf crashing on the shore. The sun is setting and the sky is ablaze with color, painting the world in shades of orange and red. Its fading rays tickle the back of my neck. Nearby, an insect buzzes in my ear, but I wave it off lazily. I have no time for it; this moment is for us and us alone. This place is ours, our playground to do what we want. It always has been. For as long as we’ve known each other.

The quaint seaside village is where we first met, her a customer and me a waitress. She said she was an aspiring author, and we connected immediately over our love of literature. We spent the whole summer together, watching the endless waves dissolve into a mirage of sapphire where they touched the curve of the edge of the world. We had stood together, next to the railroad tracks where the coal trains rumbled by on their way to the distant port. We were drunk and high, and she had grabbed my hand, leaning towards the churning steel wheels, laughing while she did so. I was scared, so I yarded back on her hand. But she persisted, encouraging me forward until our noses were nearly brushing against death, the slipstream threatening to pull us in. I thought I had understood, then, what it all meant. But I was wrong. And when I left her, a little piece of me went away with her.

We leave the clearing, retracing our steps from that day. It is so beautiful, and I am so happy. We remain silent as we walk, enjoying the peace of nature. Down the twisting, narrow dirt path that eventually spits us out onto the rocky shores. A wave crashes against the beach and I watch as the foam slides back towards the sea. It’s hypnotic. I lose myself in it for a moment before I’m aware of her standing next to me, watching me watch the waves.

“Come on,” she says softly.

She offers me her hand, her grip strong and sure. I take it and let her pull me along behind her, walking down to the water hand in hand. The rocks eventually give way to sand, cool and soft beneath our feet.

“All of this is ours,” she continues, gesturing to the beach and the sea.

I’m not sure what she means, but I don’t ask. We continue down to the water and dip our toes in, letting the waves wash over our toes. The salt water stings a little, but it’s worth it for this feeling of peace and belonging. She looks at me with those dark eyes and repeats herself.

“This is all ours.”

I still don’t understand what she means, but I’m too lost in her gaze to care. The sun sets completely now, leaving only the stars behind. They light up the sky like diamonds. She pulls me close and we watch as the world fades away into darkness.

“This can’t be real,” I shake my head.

“It’s as real as we make it,” she smiles at me, her eyes bright in the murky night. “Nothing can take this from us.”

I shiver as a gust of wind blows in off the sea, chilling me to the bone. I wrap her arms around myself and huddle in against the cold. I want to believe her, but I know it’s not true. I’m just dreaming, and when I wake up I’ll be back in my cold, dark world. But for a moment, I let myself pretend that this beautiful place is really ours.

“It should have been ours,” she whispers in my ear, her voice pained with longing.


The voice echoes through the abandoned hotel, and I awake with a start. A heavy rain hammers the boarded up windows, and a strong wind rocks the decaying roof. I sit up on the stained, threadbare couch, looking around at the squalor surrounding me.

Weeds grow up through the cracks in the concrete, graffiti is splattered on every surface, and refuse has piled up in every corner. The building has been abandoned for years, long forgotten by the city. But I could still remember what it was like to be there in its heyday, to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and hear the laughter of children.

Death speaks again, and a feeling of dread settles in my stomach as I realize that the voice is real, and not just a figment of my imagined dream world.

“My love,” she says, stepping out of the shadows. “When will you come home?”

Her voice is gentle and kind, but there’s a hint of sorrow in her eyes. I feel my mind begin to drift, and soon I’m in a different place: the patch of weeds and gravel next to the railroad track, a coal train roaring and rattling towards the distant port. The rain pours down on me, hammering the top of my head and soaking my filthy, ragged clothing all the way through. I feel a hand on my shoulder, and turn to see Death standing there, looking at me with love in her eyes.

“We can do whatever we want here,” she says. “We can be whoever we want to be.”

“Thank you,” I whisper. “Thank you for giving me this.”

I feel a sense of happiness and freedom wash over me and I smile widely. I lean into her and kiss her deeply, feeling grateful for all that she has done for me in my life. The train tracks, the clearing, the beach: it was all ours, hers and mine. It always had been, and I understood that now. We could have spent eternity there if we had wanted to. But it was only a dream. A fleeting moment in time that we were unable to capture and hold onto.

With this realization, I take a step forward, this time letting myself be caught by the slipstream and pulled forward into her embrace.

I can’t believe it. I’m finally free. I’ve been through so much pain and loss. But that was then, and this is now. We can finally be together, her and I, free from my past. I wrap my arms around her and pull her close, welcoming her soft touch.