Only in My Memories
A magical love story that transcends time.
For a long time now, every night when Rebecca goes to sleep she dreams of Daniel. She feels as if she knows him, as if she has met him before, but yet she knows with certainty she has never met him before. Then one morning as she steps off from the train, she drops one of her warm, woolen gloves. She is startled when someone touches her, and she is relieved when he holds her glove out to her.
There was a chill in the air on this wintry November morning. The coldness penetrated my warm jacket, while I was waiting on the platform for the train that would take me to college.
He stood slightly in front of me and I noticed that he was not wearing a jacket. I thought that was crazy, because it was a cold day, the blistering wind howling around the corners. The red scarf around his neck caught my eye and clashed with his blonde hair. Involuntarily I felt a flutter in my stomach.
I looked down to break the spell and not wanting anyone to notice that I was shamelessly staring at him. I considered whether I knew him or not, because he looked familiar, but I knew it was silly, because I did not know him at all. I thought that he might work in a coffee shop or bookstore where I once shopped and that I might recognize him from one of those brief encounters.
The train arrived and we all moved a little forward and when the doors of the train opened, he turned slightly toward me. The blue of his eyes made me catch my breath. I wondered embarrassed if he felt my eyes boring into his back, and that was why he turned around.
He looked not just into my eyes, but through my eyes into me, into whom I am. He smiled bashfully at me and bending his head slightly to the left, he motioned for me to get onto the train ahead of him.
I smiled thankfully and stepped up onto the train. As usual, I went to stand in the opposite corner. Once again, the train was full.
Trying not to look at him, I noticed him move toward me and then he came to stand beside me, smiling at me friendly. My eyes met his and then I turned my face away toward the window on my side and looked out across the railway lines.
As more and more people squeezed onto the train, he moved closer toward me. I could smell the fragrance of him, and it smelled vaguely familiar.
I wondered if I should say anything. What if he, this strange boy, standing next to me, who with the motion of the rocking train bumped against me every so often, was the one for me? What if I just have not met him yet? I could get off at my stop and never see him again.
However, I could not manage to build up enough courage to say anything and too soon the train arrived at my stop. I started moving past him and he stepped aside graciously.
After I stepped off the train, I started walking along the platform toward the exit of the train station. I looked up as the train pulled away from the station and I felt a sudden inexplicable sadness.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around, frowning, and there he was again, smiling down at me.
‘You dropped your glove,’ he said as he held it out toward me.
Embarrassed, I laughed softly. ‘Thank you. I am forever losing these.’
I woke up from the continuous bleeping of the tinny sound of my old-fashioned alarm clock. I automatically pushed my hand out from under the covers and routinely my hand knew the pathway to follow toward the little metal button that would stop the incessant blaring.
Silence at last, I rolled onto my back and stared up at the ceiling for a moment. Sighing deeply, I threw the blankets across to the other side of the bed. I slipped my legs off the bed onto the floor and sat up. Pushing my hands into the small of my back firmly to push out the stiffness, I stood up and walked toward the bathroom where I opened the hot water faucet. I closed the shower door again so that the steam could build up in the cubicle while I undressed.
Later while I walked to the train station, I dialled Cynthia’s number.
She answered with laughter in her voice, “Rebecca. Good Morning.”
I smiled. “Good Morning.”
“To what do I owe this early morning call?”
“I had that dream again.”
She hesitated and then she asked sceptically, “Again?”
“Yes; again. I know it is just a dream, but it feels so real.”
Across the road, I saw a man with a red scarf hurry into a corner shop. I stopped and stared in his direction, shook my head in denial and carried on walking.
Cynthia asked, “Was it exactly the same?”
“Yes; every detail. Maybe more detail than the first one, months ago. Every time I have this dream, there is a little more detail. This time I could see the old man sitting in the seat across from me reading the newspaper.” I hesitated. “Cynthia! The date on the paper was the twenty-fourth of November 1941.”
Cynthia laughed and I interrupted her, “I am glad you think this is entertaining.”
“I am sorry, Rebecca. It is just a dream. Yes, a weird recurring dream, but it is a nice dream. At least it’s not a nightmare or something.”
“I know, but it is still weird. It makes me wake up with this empty, hollow feeling.”
“Strange though that the date on the paper was the twenty-fourth, because you know today is the twenty-second of November, right?”
I laughed nervously, “You are making the weird, weirder.” I changed the subject, because I did not want to think about my dream any longer. We spoke about the Biology test we would be writing within the next couple of hours and then we said goodbye.
In real life, I did not need to take the train to get to college, because I walked the short distance. I arrived at our usual meeting place on the college grounds before Cynthia and there I bumped into Shayne. Shayne has had a crush on me since high school.
The dark, starry sky was cold and embracing. The cold was sucking greedily at the frosted clouds coming out of our mouths. Deep in my subconscious, I knew the dream had changed. It was not a cold wintry morning anymore. We were not on the platform at the train station and we were not on the train.
He stood in front of me and he smiled down at me, “I am happy that I spoke to you this morning.”
I wondered if this was the reason why my dream changed. The recurring dream has never changed in the specifics, although I did notice more details every time, but the night before he touched me, he spoke to me. Could this have changed the dream sequence somehow?
He reached toward me and his hand brushed against my arm softly. I pretended that it meant nothing, but I felt a weakness rush through me. I smiled up at him, but I did not want to leave myself open to him. I did not want to expose myself and let him see that I have foolishly fallen in love with him from that first smile. I looked up into his eyes and I felt again as if I knew him from somewhere and I tried hard to remember from where.
He continued softly, “I am drawn toward you like gravity. I thought I would never see you again, but there is nothing that would ever keep me away from you.”
I frowned, “Never see me again? So, we have met before this morning?”
“We have met. A long, long time ago and I doubt you remember me, even if I were to tell you when and how we met.” He smiled widely. “It is such a memorable moment though. Maybe one day I will remind you.”
He turned away from me and softly he wrapped his hand over mine. I knew that I should pull my hand out of his. I hardly knew him, and I was too old for head-over-heels, love at first sight, but my hand felt at home in his hand. It felt as if my hand belonged nestled into his palm.
We walked along the silent streets without saying anything. The street was cold and empty, but my hand felt warm in his. I wondered and pondered where and when it was that I had met him before.
We stopped at a bench along the river. We sat down and I watched the water swirling down below us. A cold mist drifted over the water forming shapes and forms. The soft lights from the nearby buildings glimmered faintly in the ripples on the water.
I felt unusually comfortable in his presence. As a rule, I was always uncomfortable meeting new people, but with him, I felt at ease. It could have been that I have seen him in my dreams for such a long time now that he did not feel like a stranger anymore. Briefly, I realized that I was contemplating a dream, while I was having a dream.
He turned slightly toward me and his blue eyes looked into mine broodingly. “Tell me what you have been up to? I would like to know everything, don’t leave anything out.”
Awkwardly I started, “Well, you know my name is Rebecca. I go to college here in the city and I don’t really know what else there is to say.” I looked away from him toward the buildings across the river. I noticed that the same buildings I see almost every day seemed different. The buildings looked newer, for some peculiar reason. There was also not a single high-rise building.
He interrupted my thoughts, “I missed the sound of your voice. Tell me anything. Tell me about your parents.”
I looked back at him and then the words just spilled over my lips. I talked and talked until the night sky started getting brighter. While I talked, he sat there silently, only staring at me, a faint smile played across his lips.
When the sun started to colors the horizon in a pale blue strip, he pulled me up from the bench and then he walked me home.
Cynthia and I sat across from each other in the coffee shop. I stirred the spoon listlessly in my cup.
Cynthia reached toward me and she stopped my hand by placing hers over mine. Frowning she asked, “You had that dream again?”
I sighed. “I did. I know you think I am crazy. The dream was different last night though. We weren’t at the station, but we were in the city. Everything around me looked the same as now, but it also looked different. You know the way a sepia toned image would look, almost like that. We were in the city, but it also was not this city. The people I saw were dressed very old fashioned.” I remembered the date on the newspaper, and I added, “They were dressed in the nineteen forties fashions.”
“Rebecca, you know that it is only a dream.” She looked at me concerned.
“I know, but I think my dream is starting to intrude in my real life. I actually feel as if I love him.”
Cynthia scoffed. “Come on Rebecca. You cannot be serious.”
I laughed self-consciously. “Don’t worry, I am not serious. I am only joking, but I wish you could see what I see. He is so handsome.”
She took a sip of coffee and then rolled her eyes, while she said sarcastically, “Your dream man.”
“No. Not like that.” I did not want to tell her anymore. I woke up this morning, feeling elated and happy and now she reminded me how crazy the whole notion is. I was falling in love with someone I was dreaming of every night. I knew it was ridiculous, but I could not help the way I felt.
Cynthia then asked, “When did these dreams start? It was just after you knocked your head when you slipped on the ice two months ago, wasn’t it?”
I tried to recall how long it has been from the time when I started dreaming of seeing Daniel on the train, and I replied, “I think you are right. It has been since then.”
Briefly I considered that he never introduced himself to me, yet I knew his name, as if I always knew it.
Jokingly she said, “You must have knocked something loose in your head. I told you that you should have gone to the Emergency Room that day.”
“It wasn’t serious. I didn’t even have a headache and besides heads get knocked all the time.”
“Still, you should have gone, because you obviously did hurt yourself. Why else would you be having these recurring dreams of a handsome man you have never met, and everything is dated back to the forties?”
“I get the feeling I do know him though.”
Cynthia looked at me with sympathy while she stood up. “Come on. We cannot sit here all day, classes started like ten minutes ago.”
Hurriedly I picked up my satchel lying on the floor next to me and I followed her out of the coffee shop.
While we rushed back to college, she turned toward me and asked curiously, “So, are you still going with Shayne to the movies tonight?”
I have completely forgotten that Shayne had asked me to go see a movie with him and then maybe go eat dinner afterwards. Perhaps if I go out with Shayne then I might stop obsessing over Daniel.
Shayne arrived at my apartment and before I opened the door for him, I looked in the mirror one final time to make sure that I looked okay.
I greeted Shayne friendly and then we walked to the cinema. We spoke about nothing in particular, but I could not concentrate on what he was saying. I kept seeing Daniel from the corner of my eye. I would get a glimpse of him walking across the street, but then when I looked it would be somebody else. It was as if Daniel was in every shadow around me and he was following me everywhere I went. I thought I smelt him, and I thought I heard his voice in the whisper of the wind in my ear.
After Shayne and I finished dinner, he walked me home and I felt guilty that I could not return the obvious feelings he felt toward me. I should never have let Cynthia convince me into going on a date with Shayne.
That night I did not dream about Daniel, and when I woke up from my dreamless sleep, I felt a despondent sadness and I missed him. I wondered whether going with Shayne to the movies cleared my subliminal of Daniel. I desperately hoped my dream would return, because I wanted to ask him to tell me everything about himself. I wanted to tell him about my fears and about Cynthia’s ridicule. I knew that I could have discussed anything with him, and he would have understood. I reminded myself that after everything, he was only a dream and I should have been able to wake up from it whenever I wanted to, but it was too hard now to say goodbye to him. I have dreamt about him night after night for the past two months. I have seen him standing in front of me on the station platform and I have stood next to him on the train. Although we never spoke before I dropped my glove, I looked forward to seeing him, even if I could only admit this to myself now. How could I search for someone to love when I have found what I have been looking for? If I never dreamt of him again, if I had to let him go it would be difficult, but I knew I had to, or I would soon find myself being admitted into an asylum.
Every time I caught myself wishing the day away so that I could go to sleep and hopefully see Daniel again, I stopped and tried to distract myself. I spoke to Shayne more than usual, and inadvertently I could have given him the wrong idea and he might now expect more from me. Maybe he thought that after the previous night I do like him more than what I have tried to make him believe for so long now.
Startled I heard a whisper in the air around me, “Can you hear me?”
I looked around searching for him, but the mist was hanging heavily around me. I could see sparkles in the fine misty cloud. I could not see him although my eyes were darting everywhere around me.
Without warning, he was standing behind me. He leaned into me and I felt him rest his cheek in the nape of my neck. I leaned back into him and I felt my body sigh with relief.
He whispered softly against my skin, “I was never supposed to speak to you, but I needed you to hear me. When you left your glove on the train, I thought it was a sign and I accept all the blame, because now I have to go.”
I turned in his arms toward him.
He smiled forlornly down at me. “Do you remember what you used to wish for every Christmas?”
I frowned. “I cannot remember meeting you before the other day, but I must have known you well, for you to know what I wish for at Christmas.”
“A long time ago, you knew me, and you were mine.”
“But when? How?”
Softly he put his lips against mine and memories rushed back to me. In another life when I was a different person, we loved each other. I was waiting for him while he went away to war. He left on a train on a wintry November morning. He never came back.
I felt a tear trickle down my cheek, and I put my arms around his neck while he pulled me deeper into him.
While we stood there and we kissed, I felt the mist pressing against me insistently.
He pulled away from me reluctantly and said, “I want you to know that you are my reason. I know that if I could do it all over again, you would be the one I would come and find. There has always been something to remind me of what I missed most and unfortunately there is nothing I can do to stop this goodbye.”
I looked up into his beautiful face, while he smiled down at me sadly. I wanted to hold onto him. There were a thousand questions I wanted to ask, so many things I wanted to say. I wanted to keep him with me, but he evaporated like a dream into the mist.
Sometimes when I breathe in the air around me, I am reminded of Daniel. He will always only be in my memories and still from time to time, when I am walking down a busy street, I turn toward a shadow to have a second look.
Copyright © LYNETTE FERREIRAAll rights reserved.Lynette Ferreira holds all copyright-related rights, including the right to publish the work, to make derivative works of it, to distribute it, to make profit from it, and to forbid these uses by any non-authorized people/person/entity, thus being entitled to take legal action against infringement.