This story is by Noor Janahi and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
“This is real, Kate. This is real. I am real. What you feel is real. What we have is real. Don’t ever let them take that away from you…Away from us. Don’t ever question my love for you.”
“I always thought I was different, you see. I always felt like I didn’t belong here. Like it didn’t feel like home to me. When I was in kindergarten, I was the odd little girl always sitting by herself. I spent my lunch breaks in the garden digging holes in the sand looking for you. They thought I was crazy. They thought I was possessed. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for underneath that warm, moist sand but I knew that what I was looking for was not a part of this world. I needed to find you. I needed to understand this feeling I had ever since I was born. Too little to understand the meaning of love but it was too powerful for me to hold back. You were a part of me since the first time I breathed the air of this world. You were always mine and I am forever yours.”
It was five minutes before midnight on a lonely Friday night when Kate felt his hand physically touching hers for the first time in thirty years. It was just an ordinary night for Kate. She spent almost an hour under the hot shower sobbing tears of longing, allowing her soft skin to burn just so she could forget the aches inside her fragile heart, even if it was only for a little while. She put both her hands on the shower glass door and rested her forehead against the cold glass when she felt his hands touching hers, which somehow turned into a warm red blazing surface too hot to touch, yet felt too good to let go of.
She was not sure how he finally managed to reach her world. All that mattered to her at that precious moment was the touch of his hand, the warmth of his electrifying burning skin, the touch she has been so eagerly waiting for since the day she had realized she had fallen in love.
“Who are you? What are you? And how is it possible that I have fallen in love with you when I have never even laid eyes on you outside this world?” she asked him once in her dreams.
Yes that was where they met. Every night for the past thirty years, he would visit her in her dreams.
She was about five when she realized there was a boy in her dreams. He was slightly taller than her with thick black hair. He held her hand while they played in different parts of the universe almost every night. At first, he was just a shadow following her in her dreams, too frightened to speak. It wasn’t until that dream she had where she was walking across a long blue path guiding her to the unknown, to somewhere she had not seen before. It was a place so sacred and peaceful with only two souls and absolutely nothing else around. Just Kate and Eric. A girl from Earth and a boy from Mars. Just them two staring at each other in silence until he finally got the courage to ask for her name.
“I’m Kate. What’s your name?” she replied.
“Eric. My name is Eric. Please don’t run away. I know you have seen me following you around lately. I just want to be your friend.”
“I am not scared. Do you want to come and play with me Eric?” she replied as she reached for his hand and pulled him into her world.
She was a shy, quiet little girl. Kate didn’t have many friends outside her dreams. She was an only child, spending most of her time in the company of her books since a young age. Eric, however, was the opposite of Kate. He was full of energy and life. He had many friends in his real world yet he couldn’t take his mind off the little girl he saw in his dreams.
“Would you like me to read you a bedtime story?” Kate’s mother asked once as she tucked her daughter into bed.
“No bedtime story tonight mother, Eric and I are going to explore the secret cave we found”, she replied closing her eyes as tightly as she could scrunching up her face hoping she would get to sleep and wake up with Eric by her side.
Kate told her mother about the boy in her dreams. She knew her mother wouldn’t understand. She knew she would think it was all in her head. Sometimes, she doubted it too.
“Talk to me about your home. Talk to me about Mars. How can you have a life there, when all we see when we try and explore your planet is nothingness. An empty planet with no life, no creatures and definitely no humans!”
“Are you calling me an Alien…again?”, Eric replied smiling.
“That is what we have been told. Martians? Aliens? How are we supposed to know what is real and what is plain fiction?”
“I don’t know Kate, but when we try and look for life on Earth we see nothing too. All we see is a dead planet with no possibility of having any sort of life on it. You have exactly what we have, but we cannot see it. Just like you cannot see the life we have on Mars. All I know is that somehow the universe brought us together, and I can’t help but wonder if this was what humans needed to understand the universe. I might be wrong. Maybe I’m imaging this too but I’m willing to open up my heart instead of just focusing on what I see and cannot see.”
“Tell me what you see when you look at me.”, she asked as she looked into his deep brown eyes.
“I see truth. I see a love that is so deep and so pure. A love that is so surreal that has the ability to cross through planets and universes. It is a love that I cannot and will not let go of no matter what happens. I will wait and I will fight for the moment we meet outside our dreams, Kate. Whether it is on Earth or Mars or somewhere in between. This love might be the only connection human kind will have between our two worlds.”
Years went by and both Kate and Eric lived normal lives on their planets. Just like the rest of us humans, except that they would still meet every night as they slept. They talked about almost everything. The food they ate, the friends they had. Just like any two young couples falling in love would. They spoke about their worlds and about the possibility of them meeting whether by joining a Mars mission or an Earth mission. Eric felt like he was almost a part of Earth just like Kate felt that she had already lived on Mars.
Their love grew stronger with each dream. A love that seemed so perfect if only they were not 255 million kilometers apart. A distance that tore them apart every day yet sutured them back into one piece as soon as they fell asleep. A love that was not only hopeless or forbidden but a love that was beyond any human brain’s imagination. They kept holding on. They believed that one day it would all make sense to them.
“What are you so afraid of Kate?”
“What if all of this was our imagination Eric? What if this is just our brains playing tricks on us, making us believe that we are actually connecting through our dreams? What if it is all unreal?”
“And what if it is real? What if parallel lives do exist on different planets but our human brains are not capable of reading beyond our planet’s dimensions?”
“Does this love seem unreal to you? Did the touch of my hand feel unreal to you?”
They continued meeting in their dreams trying to understand each other’s worlds. After that short encounter, they both experienced through the glass, all they wanted was to try and be in each other’s worlds. Not just through their dreams but physically in the arms of one another. It wasn’t an easy task and it sure didn’t happen again, not in their lifetime. They were just an example of true love. That pure powerful love that seemed like the only way humans on different planets would eventually communicate. Science may be what we need to understand how this universe works. But without a love like Kate and Eric’s no encounter will ever be made between such souls. Not now, not ever.
What if it is real? What if all we feel is real?