She looked out of the window at a blue sky full of fluffy clouds. Ironically the clouds reminded her of how the memories of him were slowly fading. She had known him once with utmost certainty but now she was not sure anymore. She thought back to their first encounter. Not the one she remembered consciously but the one that had been at the back of her mind when they had met fleetingly on the small strip before the beach. When she had glanced at him then and her eyes had met his she had known deep in her heart that it was him but the thought had been so preposterous that she had had to brush it aside, grit her teeth and walk on. She had then seen him go into a sports car that was parked on that strip.
For years the memory had haunted her. The thought that she had walked beside the love of her life and not had the courage to take a chance and speak to him had weighed her down for years. Then he had reappeared in her life. First in a ghost-like form with no words said but for the evanescent image of him. Then with increasing precision in the form to which was added a telepathic communication. She wondered whether he was aware at all of this or if she was the only one seeing and hearing him. His spirit-like presence then became a daily routine in her life but left her with the ache of not having him around in flesh and blood.
She turned back from the window and glanced around the room which was submerged in pale light coming from the one window that was open. The room reeked of wasted memories and unshed tears. She wished she could turn back time and go back to that moment to see if she could change the course of fate but she knew it was not possible here and now. It reassured her to think that there was a version out there in the Multiverse where she had taken that risk and was perhaps growing old with the love of her life. He whispered in her head that he would come to her Time and Time again when the elements were favourable. It reassured her even more to think that maybe serendipity would put them both on the same path again. In Time. She smiled a wane smile before the tears finally welled in her eyes. Someday…Somewhere…In Time…
The Spirit Lovers – Chapter Eight: Martin’s return
29 November 2017
Martin wakes up in his hotel room with a strange feeling of not knowing where he is and of having been separated from something he cared about dearly without knowing what it was. His head feels heavy and his eyes feel sore. He gingerly puts a foot down to step off the bed and his head reels. It takes him a few minutes to adjust and be able to put the other foot down and stand up without feeling queasy. He takes in his surroundings as calmly as he can but cannot remember how he had come here. He slowly figures out it is a hotel room and as he goes to the phone to start dialing he remembers that he had left his wife at home after their quarrel and headed towards this hotel.
He dials the number of his wife, not realising that he has forgotten all about his true love.
Helga, good morning. I wanted to say I was sorry. I don’t know what came over me
What do you mean it took me six months to come to that conclusion? I have only been away for a couple of months.
I am not sure what you mean by that but I don’t remember what happened in those other four months. Can I come home?
Rita thinks back to how you had described the scene to her and how you had realised from the smile of relief on Martin’s face that his wife seems to have forgiven him. She remembers you describing how you watched him starting to pack his suitcase before you orbed back to where I was standing with her trying to console her as she wept Martin’s disappearance. She wonders why the couple of nights that they had passed together in that alternate reality appeared as a distorsion of several months in this reality. She feels a surge in her heart like every time she thinks about Martin but tries to overcome it. Tears well in her eyes and she bites her lip trying to contain them before they spill over her cheeks profusely.
Martin winces while carrying the suitcase down. It seems like something is wrong within his ribcage and he feels like a strain in his heart. He continues carrying the suitcase down and asks the receptionist for help with the other larger suitcases left upstairs. He also enquires if there is a doctor as he is not feeling well. The receptionist enquires and soon a doctor is made available to Martin who by now is convinced that he might be suffering a heart attack as the pain grows in his chest. The doctor who examines him tells him that he finds nothing wrong with his heartbeats nor anything else but that to be on the safer side he should go to the hospital.
Martin rings his wife again to inform her of the news and sets out to the nearest hospital in the hotel’s chauffeured car. When he reaches the hospital, they too find nothing wrong with him but decide to keep him under observation for the day. Martin looks at his wife who has come and realises that he is relieved she is with him but he feels nothing towards her now that she is here. He tries to reproduce the longing he had experienced that morning but it is not there. He wonders what made that change and why it is that he is not longing for her anymore. Is it because she gave in and came so easily to his side, he wonders.
Helga puts her lips softly against Martin’s a few tears falling from her eyes as she does so. Her lips freeze as she realises that he is not reciprocating. She pulls back noticing that he does not seem moved by her kiss and realises that he seems to be in the same frame of mind as when he left several months ago. He had mentioned an excursion he wanted to make to take time off from being with each other and to think about the future. Martin looks into Helga’s eyes and all he can feel is friendliness and gratitude that she came to be by his side.
You are a great woman, Helga, he says
I am your wife Martin
I know. I wish I could change things but somehow the magic is gone
Just this morning you were telling me you wanted to come home, you seemed to have rekindled that love you had for me
I’m sorry Helga. I felt like that this morning when I woke up but I don’t anymore
Martin does not tell Helga that he still feels that impression but simply not directed towards her. He prefers not telling her as he does not wish to hurt her but also because he would be at a loss trying to explain towards whom he has these feelings. He stands up and decides to discharge himself from the hospital as they can find nothing wrong
Rita wipes away the tears from her face and decides to start her mission at the House of Love. She opens the doors to the visitors and graciously answers all their questions about the great love between Nina and Harold the rock star. As honeymooners and couples pass by admiring the various emblems of love she feels her heart warm up to them as she can feel the love surging from them and towards her, pacifying her.
Martin accompanies Helga home and goes through his things. He realises he cannot stay with Helga and feels sorry for having given her false hopes again. He wants to understand more about himself and why he is feeling so forlorn for a love he cannot identify. He knows that his therapist is not going to help him much because he only asks questions and Martin knows that he does not have the answers to any of the questions that the therapist would probably ask. While he is going through his things, he sees a brochure for a place called House of Love and notices that he had circled the address and scribbled down a series of dates and a phone number. He calls the phone number and a person responds that it is an agency that organises honeymoon vacations as well as retreats for couples in a place called the House of Love.
Martin parks his car outside the place called the House of Love and realises it seems as familiar as the agency had seemed. He rings the bell and is welcomed by a butler who takes his coat and tells him that he is a bit early but the House of Love never rejects visitors so he would be welcome to stay in the library while the lady of the house gets ready for visitors. After a short while, Rita goes into the library to welcome the first visitors and comes face to face with Martin.
Martin! She exclaims
I know you, he answers
How did you get here
I know you. Who are you?
Rita throws her arms around him and in that instant all the other essences of Martin gather again within him and he knows. He turns her face slowly towards him and kisses her with all of his longing realising this was the woman he had been longing for when he woke up in that hotel room.
I know you from before Time, he says
I love you from beyond Time, beyond doubt…
He kisses her and the visitors who start pouring into the House of Love start clapping. Some japanese visitors among them take photographs or videos thinking that this is a performance which is part of the exhibition. You and I look at each other with delight though we know that this will definitely be sending some more ripples across time.
He was everywhere. She could feel him in the shadows that cloaked her when she walked in the scorching summer heat. She could feel him in the cool of the wind that caressed her skin in the air-conditioned room. She could feel him close by his breath mingling with the drops of water that fell off her neck while she showered. She could feel him in the constriction of her throat when sadness overcame her, easing his way up until she felt only peace. She could feel him in her bosom as it fluttered anxiously when fear visited slight. She could feel his hand in the small of her back when she needed support. He was everywhere.
I cannot go on like this, she said. She knew he was there as always but he did not answer. Why do you stay with me all the time, she asked again hesitantly. No answer. You have gone then, she ventured. No, she heard.
Why do you stay?
Why do you think?
I don’t know. Do you miss the land of the living?
I am not dead
But you do not live
I do. You know that I do. You have ample proof of that.
I do not see you
You know I am. You do not need to see me to know that.
That’s easy for you to say. I might just be hallucinating, imagining you, creating you out of nothing
Do you think you have that power?
I… I don’t know anymore what power I have. Do I have power at all, I wonder
I guess if I am imagining you so intensely that you almost exist then I must have some power. Am I creating you?
(laughs) Am I creating you?
I don’t know. Did you create me?
You think too much
Is that a bad thing?
Not if you feel as much or more.
Will you ever go away?
No, perhaps for a short while sometimes but I will always keep an eye on you
Is that a promise or a threat?
What do you think?
You never hurt me so I don’t think it is a threat but I still don’t understand. Why do you keep watch over me?
Yes, I watch you
Isn’t that unfair? You watch me but you never allow me to see you
Maybe because you cannot or should not see me
Why? Are you like…undead?
I mean… are you a vampire
If you are a vampire, would it not have been easier for you to just drink my blood and then go away for more blood elsewhere
Blood, yes, there is the question of your blood
So you are a vampire
I don’t want to drink your blood. I have no desire to drink it
So you are a vampire who finds my blood particularly undesirable or is it because I am no longer a virgin?
(laughs) I think that is urban legend. Do you know of someone whose survival would depend on something and yet he would be choosy about it and take only certain types of what he needs?
Well I saw a horror movie once where the vampire gets ill when drinking the blood of a woman who is not a virgin
(laughs) you’ve watched too many movies
How would you know?
I know what you think, remember?
You’re in my head. Yes, you’re in my head! You are a mere creation. You are a character waiting to be played out in my written words. I will write you and you will disappear then
You reckon? Speaking of women who are not virgins, I have a good mind to show you why I could not possibly be a vampire. Come to bed, it’s late
No, I think I will write you out
(laughs) nonsense. Even if you had words to describe some of our interactions, do you have enough words to describe the intensity of our lovemaking?
Precisely. Come to bed
I will still write some
Be my guest
Well actually I think I am more your host
(laughs) you may well be. Come here, show me around you
No, I want to write. I am not coming to bed
Are you sure? (his breath is warm and cool all at once on her nape) Maybe I can convince you.
His breath slides down over her throat to her nipple. She feels the pressure of his faceless head on her breast, his arms around her, palms resting on the small of her back. The embrace is excruciatingly tender yet wanton. He coaxes her out of the armchair his body behind her guiding her. She reaches out, her open palms meeting the pulsation of his skin. Slowly she undresses watching where the room seems to be rippling, where he might be. He laughs. You know you don’t need to, he says, although I do prefer when you are naked.
She lies down on her stomach, face turned towards the side. She feels his lips on hers, the tautness in her hips as he slides into her partially sideways. Wave after wave submerge her. He is right. Nothing can describe this lovemaking. There is nothing in the human language that can possibly describe it. Every inch of her body is ablaze with his passionate presence. He is more present in his relative absence than any of the men she had ever made love with. She feels the electricity fill every cell in her, liquefying it, reducing her to a pool of desire, wrapped around his formless being. Her hands reaching out to keep him closer are met with waves of electricity. Something explodes in her brain as they climax shuddering. They stay like that a while before she feels him snugly fit into the curve of her back as she slowly turns sideways.
I don’t think you should ever go away
(laughs) you think too much. Sleep now, you don’t sleep enough
Will you sleep?
I will lie here, don’t worry
Why do you stay?
Do you still feel the need to ask that?
Not really. I think you love me
You know I do
Do I love you?
You know you do
Will you ever be in a form I can see?
Perhaps one day
Does it matter?
Well it doesn’t really… Matter! (laughs) I could do with some more matter, at least at your face so I can see what you look like
Would it change anything?
No, I guess not. In a way, I know you too well for it to change anything now
Yes, I will. No, don’t move away, I want to feel you exactly that way, snugly fitting my back, nice and warm.
(laughs) Are you sure you don’t want to write now instead of sleeping?
No, I don’t want to write. I don’t want to sleep either
(laughs) I know that look
She slowly turns partially on her stomach again. She feels the pressure on her lips. He is everywhere. She stretches, welcoming the surges. How could she have ever thought she could not go on like this? He laughs in her head as she turns to embrace him.
Initially started as a short story, this was edited to change the title on March 9 following the publishing of a story called “Straying Consciousness” which became a sequel to this story under a series now titled “The Body Rider”.