My throat is dry. My voice barely comes out. The Nightwalkers keep coming toward me, as if I’m not saying anything at all. I shoot them with the gun but all it does is create a little steam. I turn the gun and spray it into my mouth. It soothes my swollen and parched throat.
“You are a nightmare!” I yell. “So are you!”
A birdsong trill outside the window. It must be Dovie! I keep yelling, my voice strained as I hoist Jude up by the armpits and drag him to the window, leaping outside with my arms tight around his chest. His limp legs kick at a Nightwalker trying to clamor inside.
We land on Dovie’s back. This time I’m behind him, securing him against Dovie’s feathers. The Nightwalkers above try to grab at us, but the dove flies out of their reach.I know I’ll have to come back and deal with them all, but the first step is to get rid of these pills.
Dovie takes us down the cliff that leads to the house I shared with Graham. Jude wakes with a groan, and I help him off the dove’s back.
I take the bottle of pills out of my pocket and shake it. This is different than my own pill bottle earlier tonight with only one pill in there. This one is filled to the brim.
Jude must sense my reluctance because he says, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
Once again, I stand on my tiptoes and kiss him, but more forcefully this time. My arms encircle his neck to draw in his real–not dream–warmth. His arms are around my waist. He bends forward slightly so I no longer have to reach up to meet his lips.
We break away, and I hold his gaze, taking a deep breath before nodding. “I’m sure.”
I take my lonely pill out of my pocket and lay it on my left palm. Jude undoes the lid of the pill bottle and holds onto it. I empty the pills into my hand, feeling their comforting weight. For years now, I’ve relied on these pills and their promise to protect me. I’m afraid to let them go. But then I look at Jude, who smiles reassuringly.
After shuffling them around a bit, I hold my hand over the water and top my palm to the side, watching them trickle in like white rain and be swallowed up.
“Can I ask why you decided to believe me?” Jude tugs at his sleeve, suddenly shy.
“He said I can have Graham back,” I say, looking up at the singing stars. I realize I’m not sure if stars are supposed to sing or if that’s just part of the dream. “A real person can’t come back after death.”
Jude puts his arm around my waist and pulls me so I’m pressed against his side. He kisses the top of my head. He doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t have to.
I don’t know how I ever thought Graham could be real. Our relationship was too flawless to be real. But I think about what Jude said about it being okay to hold onto my memories of Graham, real or not. I decide to do just that. No matter what it turns out to be, those memories are precious to me.
I lean toward Jude and rest my head against his chest. We keep watching the frothy waves where we last saw the pills, even as the jellyfish moon swims away and the sun begins to rise.
The ocean never sleeps, but if it could, what would it dream?
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12
Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.