Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Big One comes on Friday

Chapter 1: Day1

Not again... Swaying lamps, shaking ground, tilting pictures.
How long can it last? How many times should it come to be over.
Since the big quake in the north, followed by tsunami and radiation leaks, came endless big, small and medium size aftershocks disrupting life in multitude of ways.
Regular blackouts, transport erratic schedule, shops with odd work hours, shortages of necessities and the worst of it - inability to get some deep refreshing sleep.
She felt annoyed. Tremors would come and go but never disappear completely. She has been constantly on guard for another earthquake. Nobody could with any degree of certainty predict if or when it comes or how strong it would be.
Tremors may subside over a period of months or... not an optimistic 'or', terrifying 'or', implying the probability of the 'Big one' close to the city. The reality of which no one wanted to anticipate. Look at what's happening here now, 200 km away from the direct impact.

It's been an incredibly stressful couple of months with uncertainty about practically everything.
She wished for at least few hours a day of rest and peace, unconscious oblivion of quiet dreams completely unrelated to the current events. But dreams avoided her. Lack of sleep started to become a problem. Moments of extremely high concentration and efficiency were taking turns with periods of blank spacing out and inability to move.
Deep down she feared what was coming. She could trust her gut that it wasn't the end, not yet. Unfinished business of this whole situation was still hovering insistent in its relentless remindings.

Spring was making its way through despite all the mess. Sunny days with blooming flowers of all colors, chirping birds, families on picnics on the first grass and under the snowstorm of white petals were defying all the odds.
Still, this quite equilibrium was too deceptive to believe it completely, without a grain of salt. After just a month of constant nerve trying events, it was simply too good to be true. Everyone wanted to believe it could be, wished and preyed for it to be - the end of the nightmare, the light at the end of the terribly uncomfortable tunnel.
That's what it meant here, in the city - discomfort, fears about the future. People here couldn't even begin to fantom the life in the north. It was a completely different dimensional experience only modestly channeled through the media and blog posts.

What if the Big one is coming... She needed to think of it, however unsettling it was. What then?..
Almost 30 million people in the greater city area. How?
Run fast, run far - seemed like a logical choice but so many things were tied up here.
She had these periodic dialogs with herself, the ones without either beginning or end, sort of diving in and out of the conversation. It helped to channel thoughts, clear the mental clutter.

Another tremor interrupted her yet again.
 'Oh, no'... She stood up and waited. (It became a habit to be upright when these things happened.)
It seemed to be subsiding and then... the screeching sound, sharp rattle, increasing in its vigor tremors were tearing at the building, small mementos falling...  Everything was happening within the fraction of a minute.
The whole world tortured and twisted around her was breaking apart and there was no time for anything planned, nothing but watch it crash and die.
The glimpse of light was vaguely visible through the strangely triangular shaped corridor exit
but it also slowly faded into a darkness.
The last thought on the edge of consciousness - 'it's nothing what we think it is' resurfaced and was gone.

The Big one was here.

Chapter 2: Blackout

Only speed, wind, hot and sharp.
Can't open eyes. Can feel, hear, not see. Eyelids are too heavy, like when they roll you out of the operation room and call your name to make sure you came back. You can hear, answer but eyes are still shut tight and sleep prevails.
Can feel own breath, dry lips and the wind, cosistently strong and deliberate. Trying to see and like in dreams instead of waking up falling in yet another reality.
Tired, loosing touch, sinking into the darkness, deeper and deeper.
Lightening penetrates and receeds, music flows, something very familiar.
Speeding away again, faster and faster, loosing grip on things however weak. No thoughts of before or after, vague recollection of now. Bumpy ride, getting used to, falling into a nothing.
Segmented memories were unsuccessfully trying to relate, establish links, become somewhat coherent. They temporarily existed in an ever changing chain of snapshots that invisible flashlight was gouging from the subconsciousness. No reflection, no train of thought, no response.
Something was calling insistently racking the surface, trying to get deeper and failing again and again. It wasn't time. It was no way back. Too much has happened to process.
Deep sea diving-like feeling was replaced with instant floating devoid of purpose and direction. It could be it. Gliding quietly across the friendlier shores. Glimpses of light seemed farther and father away, voices streaming into a bubbling murmur.
No presence.

Chapter 3: Memories

'Hey, are you listening?'
The voice reached her and she was looking at her friend trying to figure out what the topic was.
'Yes?' she answered.
'Come on, are you here at all?' Jill was definitely annoyed. 'I am going away for a week. You absolutely must take care of the cat and the flowers and the bills if you want to have electricity on'.
'Sure, of course', she responded absently. 'Everything will be ok'.
'I hope so', Jill was looking at her uncertain whether she should change her plans and stay. 'What's the matter with you? You are spacing out, you don't remember what we discussed, you sleep with your eyes opened.'
'It's nothing, I'm just a little tired. The tests are over, now I can relax.' 'I'd feel much easier if you visited your folks or blew up the steam with others instead of spending time locked up here alone'. Jill was definitely uncomfortable leaving her.
'I'll be fine, don't worry about me. Go and have fun yourself. I'll be right here when you're back. I'll enjoy my quiet time,' she smiled.
'As you like. Send me updates at least, don't vanish. I won't call you.' Jill turned and looked at her for a second, picked up her bag and was gone.

It was raining outside despite all the weather forecast reassurances . Spring was coming slowly, very slowly. There was something unsettling about it. She couldn't quite put a finger on it. Why would it bother her this much. Winter was over and done with. She always looked forward to a summer season and all its possibilities: long days, freedom of being outside, break from studies, travel...
This year it felt different. Something was out of place and she had no clue what it was. Recently even dreams were deeper and more disturbing. Not clear cut nightmares, no. They were too vivid, showing things and places she couldn't recall. It left her wondering in the mornings and daydreaming on occasion. It wouldn't let her focus on other things, like plans for the final year at the college. She had a vague fancy of being watched. Nothing intruding, just a subtle 'watching over you' kind of thing, not disturbing but making you very aware of it.
'It must be all in my head. I need to get out more often, talk to someone'. Not an easy task during the break. Everyone seemed to have left town, leaving, or planing to leave.

...Leaving town, in a hurry, taking train after train, going further and further away...
Somehow these words were suddenly significant. They came from nowhere and left her wondering: 'going away why, running from what?!'
'Whose thoughts are those? They aren't mine.'

She came to her senses. The cat was watching her with his wide open blue eyes hesitating to come closer. 'Hey, kitty. Is it your dinner time?'
They went to the kitchen, she removed the treat from the cabinet and placed into the cat's bowl.
Rain outside was gradually maturing into something resembling a storm. It was too windy to go out, too dark.
Rattling sound was being louder. 'It's going to be hard to sleep,' she noted to herself. 'It's should be a nice day tomorrow though. I'll go out.'
The phone rang. Wrong number.
It was Friday night. TV programs were too boring. People were expected to be out having fun.
How very predictable.

Outside the window trees were dancing moving their branches like hands, swaying back and forth. And then the thunder came crashing down leaving pulsating lightenings across the sky. Very strong statement.
In the choice between the book and the diary, the diary won. She was checking in again trying to make the flow more coherent.
Somewhere in the middle of it she dozed off and was descending into a deeper layers of sleep.
The storm was gently rocking the world around.

Suddenly, she opened her eyes. All consuming fear of the impending danger paralyzed her every movement. Seconds were ticking loudly before all came down and buried her alive leaving only the little triangle-shaped opening in the end of the recess like a window to the last stage of the drama. She gasped for the air frozen in her immobility, unable to cry out.
'Open your eyes! Open your eyes!', something nudged her insistently.

In the next moment, she was already sitting on the bed listening to her beating heart resonate in her every thought.

Chapter 4: Intruder

Weeks have passed and 'the dream' started to bother her less and less. She could sleep again, innocent dreamless sleep without fear or follow-up analysis. It was all dismissed as side effects of stress, fatigue, worries about the future etc etc.
Life started to make sense once again. Summer was here with all the opportunities to offer.
She was going on a trip she had planned a long time. The bags were packed, tickets confirmed, cameras handy, phrase book neatly arranged in her phone.
It was going to be a long flight but she looked forward to a new invigorating experience in the land far-far away. A complete change of scenery is what she prescribed herself.

Airport, flight, landing, on the ground again. New scene, people, sounds, smells...
She picked her luggage and made her way to the city bound train.
Sleek design, multilingual crowd, sunny heat outside the window intercepted by the subtle air conditioning. 'Need some refreshing sleep. No time for jet lags.' Hotel was small but neat and full of all the latest gadgets. It lacked personality, of course, but it was new and cheerfully painted, and felt young and inviting.
'Sleep first, then start exploring'...
It was such a pleasure to finally stretch in full length. And the sleep didn't wait.

Waking up to a dark evening was strange. Her mind expected morning but her eyes were staring at the bright street neons outside. The light flowed into the small room through the window obliterating darkness. It was only eight o'clock and she needed something to eat.
She had an eclectically assembled dinner at the hotel and ventured outside. Being cautious she stayed on lit up streets with people. Boxy architecture didn't surprise or excite her. It was the old she was aiming at seeing. But for tonight it'd have to do. Navigating her way around the busy city center she felt alive and surprisingly not alone.
The sudden feeling of deja vu came from nowhere. She realized that she was walking for at least an hour now and not even once consulted the map. And somehow she navigated the place as smoothly as if it was a routine. The city wasn't giant of course and she was used to living in a metropolis. Still, it felt both comforting and disturbing at the same time.
'Just a coincidence', she decided not to be bothered. Later that night in bed she was planing her next day and fell asleep anticipating little miracles the same way kids anticipate Christmas with all that it has to offer.

She was dreaming again. She was walking along the narrow path full of scarlet leaves. The sky was of the topaz blue. It was breathtaking. Few seconds later she was in front of a temple, small and shy, hiding behind pine trees, intricately built with elegantly shaped window-eyes. In another moment she was already in a garden by the pond surrounded by multicolored maples. The surface of the water was mirroring the scenery. It wasn't even possible to be sure which side was real. She looked down and saw her own reflection. Although, looking closer she couldn't recognize herself. She rubbed her eyes and focused again. The same reflection was looking back at her.
'I am you...', moved the lips.
She touched the surface disturbing the image and quickly stood up.
The ripples took it away and suddenly there was the crashing building again, the sound of braking walls and the burning sky in the triangular-shaped opening. And the pain, followed by the overwhelming sorrow and grief that was so unbearably real that it woke her up.

It was morning. She dressed in a hurry and ran out on the street.
She kept hurrying towards something. The same path brought her to the temple. Tourists were starting to pure in. 'The exact same temple with eyes', she noted to herself. Then walking back with the confidence of knowledge not a guess, she found the garden and the pond and the trees. Everything looked the same except for the season. The leaves were green and the sky was of the softer blue. After staring at the surroundings for a while she made herself look at the water, closer, closer.

It was her, no doubt but somehow it didn't make it any easier.

Chapter 5. On the road

...She was on a train again, speeding away to the east. Not in the original plan, just something she felt compelled to do on the spur of the moment. As if somebody whispered in her ears 'go, hurry'.
Her dreams reminded more and more pieces of the puzzle she couldn't connect yet. They rolled around like colorful raindrops, reflecting facets of somebody's life, like a footage from the forgotten movie, vaguely remembered as an impression rather than story.

Looking back she was remembering siting by the lake a couple of days ago. It was a perfect afternoon with soft golden shadows on everything around that made the experience even more surreal. A little bench by the shore, an elderly man feeding birds, feisty little corgy running along, a very slight murmur of water splashing against the stones. Feeling of calm, safety, peace... She rested her eyes and let her other senses work. There was a waiting time. She knew something must come when she opens her eyes again. The boat. And as she thought of it, she caught a glimpse of a beautiful white riverboat slowly approaching the peer. With the myriads of seagulls against the silver blue sky and drowning in the water clouds. Smaller boats were gliding along the skyline in no hurry.
She suddenly realized that she could just sit here for ages and let days go by. No time, no memories in existence. The perfect balance.

But as often in recent days worrying feeling came from nowhere and urged her to move, go, find something else.
And here she was, almost half-way on her journey to the place that once had a meaning and importance, declined right after the terrible events that altered it forever. Sure there was still the city, rebuilt literally from scratch, much smaller and insignificant, never raising again to it's former glory. Too much damage, devastation, horror... People preferred to avoid it, most survivors moved away, some of course remained. It looked modest and quiet with much-much slower pace, and on the bright side greener. There was something somber about it even now, decades later.

When she arrived at the station and went outside she didn't really know what to do next. There were no signs or hints. People around her were hurrying in different directions. An older woman stopped and asked if she needed any help.
And then she suddenly knew what it was.
With the sound of the name the woman looked at her in surprise:
'How do you know? No one calls it this anymore.'
'I just heard...' she couldn't come up with any plausible explanation.
'You'll need to take another train and then bus. But there's really not much left there, just the hills. Only few people live there now.'
'Did they? I mean before?'
'Yes. It used to be a busy place', the woman sighed. 'Anyway, good luck'.
'Thank you so very much for your help'.
Woman nodded and was on her way.

A smaller train was moving along giving her time to acquaint herself with new surroundings. She stopped wondering about the meaning of this trip and was just looking out of the window. Trees, buildings, further and further apart, people. Nothing unusual or significant.
A short bus ride later she was standing next to the stop sign looking around and finding only few scattered houses in view. Despite her uncertainties she was moving towards the hills. 'There must be a bridge somewhere here'. Strange but logical thought. 'No, can't see any.' There was no bridge but she could see a little pathway heading the same direction. Few trees and wild flowers on both sides.
She hurried up the hill as if in a sudden need to see something, something she used to know.

Coming up she was expecting to see something that will explain all the bizzare dreams and confusing reality lapses, and finally help her understand.

Chapter 6. Who am I?

When she finally reached the top of the hill, it wasn't what she was expecting. It was nothing there to see except for few trees and tall grass. There weren't any houses or people around.
There were flowers full of busy bees and butterflies. The afternoon heat didn't seem to slow them down. An airplane was making a long white line across the sky...

But before she could even formulate her feeling, a sudden crushing sound came from nowhere and swept her into the darkness. Distant roar was getting louder with every coming second. And then all the hell broke loose...
Heavy walls were coming down, disintegrating, burring her alive, leaving only a small triangular recess through which she could see a distant light or a fire.
She was living her nightmares. But this time they were painfully real, to the very detail, tangible in every breath she took. She could smell the dust, feel the walls closing in, sense the fear of being trapped in a tiny space below.
The concrete sarcophagus above her haven't yet stopped moving.
The heavy screeching noise of dying outside world, moaning in agony was unbearable.
The terror left her speechless.
The wasn't time for anything...
There was no time, period.
There was a regret, somewhere deep in the subconsciousness trying to get out. There was still a reflex to hold on, in all the mess of moving, reintegrating peaces of reality. She was clutching something in her hand she couldn't see or recognize.
From under the heavy eyelids, pierced with occasional fire bolts darkness was soaking her up.
The extreme fatigue of these last minutes of living exhausted her.
She closed her eyes and let go...

The next thing she remembered was being under the tree, holding her knees and sobbing uncontrollably. All the tension, all the suspense of recent weeks were just too much for her. Unable to control it she wept for something she didn't remember knowing, moaning the loss of the life she was somehow connected to and still not understanding how.
The world around was back to normal, like nothing ever happened.
The darkness was gone and instead the sun was sliding closer to the horizon.

Chapter 7. Encounter

The pain was slowly subsiding. The calm of the place with nothing but sounds of birds and wind lazily going through the leaves above was soothing. She slowly opened her eyes.

- Are you alright?
A sporty young man in his thirties was looking at her. His bicycle was on the grass nearby. He must've stopped on his way.
- Can I help?
She was slowly getting hold of herself. The reality, her own reality was here again. She looked at him slightly surprised to hear her native tongue, practically in the middle of nowhere.
- I am fine. It's nothing.
- It didn't look like nothing.
He wasn't convinced.
'How much did he see', she was thinking to herself.

- Are you new here? Myself I've been here for some time now. I could help. I know how overwhelming the place could be to a newcomer.
'He doesn't give up.' After a short hesitation she answered:
- It's a long story and you'll probably think I'm out of my mind.
He didn't seem discouraged.
- Let's get a cup of coffee. There's a small caffe down this road. I can see you need to talk to someone. Might as well be me.

He helped her up, picked his bicycle and in a minute they were walking down the hill. Only once she stopped to look back. The house that should've been there wasn't anywhere in sight. Just the grass and few maples trees. 'How strange', she thought to herself, 'not even a reminder'...

After she poured out all the messy story, going back and forth, describing details that might have been important, it started to form some sort of a shape. However incredible in it's essense, having been sounded out made it real and structured. It wasn't just in her head anymore. It helped to unload this invisible burden she was carrying around for the last several months all on her own.

He didn't interrupt her, didn't show a surprise or disbelief. He just kept looking at her and listening to every word she was saying. It did seem important. Incredible, strange, curiously misterious, unexplained, spooky and so many more words that could be used to discribe it.
She didn't look like she was making this up. There wasn't any excitement or pleasure derived from this narration in her demeanor.
Very few emotions were mirrored in her face, just a slight frown when she was looking for the right word, deeply layered sadness in her grey eyes, a distant look as if she was searching for something beyond her immediate surroundings.

Chapter 8 The invisible someone

That night she slept as it used to be, deep and sound sleep. Unburdening herself helped release the tension that was gradually building up over the past several months. It gave a breathing space and a piece of mind to contemplate.
'Tomorrow we'll attempt to find out who she was if at all possible' - she remembered telling herself before sliding into a cosy oblivion. Her new friend was meeting her in the morning.

For a few hours she was able to let go. She dreamt of something but could not remember what it was. Except for a blurry figure of a man who seemed to be watching her. It wasn't disturbing. She actually felt a comfortably reassuring feeling of being watched over, being safe. There weren't any clues who he was or why he was here. And she was simply content going with the flow. What must happen will happen and any mystery will be clarified in time. She knew better than hurrying things up.
Despite all the remaining questions her inner balance was somewhat restored.

The next few days were full of busy searches, dead ends, fragile leads, hopes, disappointments and perseverance.
The more they dug into the past the deeper this unplanned involvement seemed to go, for him now almost as much as for her. Old records were hard but not entirely impossible to track. At times they felt so close to unlocking the mystery that it felt just a step away. It was long and frustrating process but bringing them both still unaware of it closer together.

A couple of weeks later and she couldn't imagine being on her own, not being able to talk to him, spend time searching, relying on his knowledge and wit to keep her spirits up and keep going.
It's funny how things come together all intentions aside, beyond all the careful planning.
Life was happening in her own messy way where the underlying meaning of the moment was still illusive.

Chapter 9 He

How come his life suddenly became a chapter from someone's book.
For days now he'd been trying to understand this turn of events that took him off the regular track.
He didn't regret it but it did surprise him. All came so unexpectedly and it hadn't been a dull moment since. He looked at her and couldn't remember the days prior to their meeting. They faded, became less significant.
This new pursuit was amazingly surreal but made more sense than anything else he ever experienced.
They were still struggling to find whoever it was calling on her to remember. Every new lead kept opening yet another door to the unknown. It was clear to both of them this wasn't going to be an easy undertaking and they were determined to use the time they had to spare to the best of their effort.

He asked himself a simple question: was it about her? And the answer was: of course, it was.
But this wasn't a regular infatuation. There was surely an attraction.
Something else, something deeper he still couldn't grasp.
She came into his life and without even knowing took it for granted.
It would've bothered him before as he cherished his freedom but not now, not with her. He couldn't explain it and just went along.
Watching her speak, or read, or browse, or just be lost in thought made him for some bizarre reason feel at peace. Gaps of silence didn't seem to matter or disturb.
Like something from the forgotten dream, cosy and comfortable, and moreover familiar.

In his mind the image of a crying girl under the tree on an empty hill was still very vivid. Why did that place seem so empty? Something should've been there. It was..., just too long ago.
People used to live there, grew older, fought and were happy once.
What a cruel end...
He tried to imagine himself in that particular situation but couldn't even fathom the scale.

Chapter 10 Dreams

She dreamt almost every night. Often dreams ambushed her, crowding and interrupting each other in the attempt to signify something, throw the light on unturned yet stones, throwing the clues around without as much as a hint of what they should mean.
Sleep became work, restless wondering... She was used to waking up exhausted and with more questions than answers.

In one of her dreams it's an early morning. She is waking up, with that cosy feeling of a good night sleep that slowly eases you into a new day. Softer light carving the reality out of shadows. Sun streaming in a light glow. Sounds gradually making their presence.
But all this tranquility is soon proving to be treacherous.
In a few moments the uncertain feeling of something amiss starts to slowly sip in, filling the space around, something not being here, or someone... That lonely feeling, a tear in a fabric of life, void...
It gets gradually darker, black water moving in, circling, rising higher and higher above the horizon... Cold and determined, leaving no hope.
She screams in desperation.
The horror stifling her throat.
Her eyes fixed on the rising water.
Her mind racing.
'Where are you? Help me...please'
The echo carries away her voice
There's no one to hear
Under the water with the last breath she repeats endlessly: 'Find me!
Somewhere in this universe, find me'...
She struggles, she moves against all odds, not giving up, not letting go...

She is gasping for breath and waking up.
And what's left of all this is a gaping sense of loss, desire to run, move, find something or someone so she could be complete again.

Chapter 11 Across the ocean

At some point in their search for answers she realized that another trip across the ocean is inevitable. There were leads and questions that had a good chance to be answered there.
'I can't expect you to go on such an extended journey with me.' She felt a pang of sorrow saying that to him. 'I've already taken so much of your time.'
'I'll come with you.' Said he as a matter of fact. For him it was obvious and clear.
'But your work? It's one thing when we are here.'
'Don't worry about it. I'll think of something, take an early vacation perhaps. It's not important.'
'Are you sure?' Deep down she was relieved. This trip would've been so lonely without him.
('How did I come to depend on him so much...')
'No worries. Let's get packing.' He smiled at her. 'I'll make arrangements'.
'Thanks. I don't know what I would've done without you.'
'Probably the same. You don't seem to have a choice.'
('True indeed,' she thought to herself, 'but even my time is limited'.)

A couple of days later they were in the air heading west with all the anticipation of something new to come. Still blind to the exact purpose and unclear on how much more they need to know.
They did discover 'Her' name, occupation and where she was from, that she was married... but was this enough? 'Her' restless self somehow invaded their lives and weren't letting go.

When they landed, busily packed with tourists and locals airport met them with insistent buzz of various languages. Riding train to a small but famous town was next.
Exhausted they dropped off their luggage at the picturesque country hotel and went into the town hoping to stumble on yet another clue. Sitting on the patio in a small restaurant overlooking the medieval cathedral was somehow comforting and strangely familiar.
She's gotten used to these deja vu moments, sudden pangs reminding of things that already happened, somewhere, sometime...
When later they walked along one of the narrow streets turning away from the city center, she had this sudden urge to enter a little green shop in the corner hoping to see Christmas decorations (strangely in the middle of summer). And surprisingly here it was, all year round Christmas shop with all the colorful stars, lights, candles, cascading tree ornaments.
'I've been here before, haven't I? At least one of us did. And it was also in summer.'
Her thoughts were entangled in all consuming struggle to see the demarcation between what she knew to be her own self and that of the other.

It all felt like a prelude to something.

Chapter 12 Meeting

That night she suddenly woke up and realized she was standing in the middle of the room dressed. It was dark outside. She couldn't remember when and how she got ready.
She felt a very strong compulsion to go outside. It seemed a crazy thing to do at this hour but then all of it was a borderline in itself.
She could resist this urgent need no more than any other compulsion coming from within where another person was struggling to break free.
She went limp and let this other person take over. She'd remain a passive observer for a change.

And then another 'she' ran out of the door and down the dimly lit cobblestone street towards the cathedral they passed on their way yesterday. There was a certain significance about that place. It felt too familiar.
'She' was standing in front of the big heavy doors not worried that they were obviously locked for the night. Turning around 'she' swept surroundings with one quick glance. It looked like 'she' was waiting for someone.
It wasn't very long. After a while somebody stepped forward from the shadows and was moving towards 'her' while 'she' was still piercing the darkness searching.
Slowly his features became clearer and she gasped recognizing the invisible protector from her dreams.
'Look back!' she wanted to scream alerting her other self who was completely unaware of his presence but couldn't utter a word.

'I am here', he said.
'She' turned around in a second: 'It's you! Oh, God, it's you...'
And in a moment he already held her in his arms: ' we promised. I was waiting here all along, since it happened'.
'I tried to find you earlier but I couldn't. It's so hard when it's not just you. I had to piece my memories together...' 'She' was speaking fast.
'I know.' He looked at 'her'. 'I know, time flows in different wave lengths but you are here now. It's all that matters.'
'She' was holding on to him: 'It took so long to get here. I missed you so much.'
He looked in her eyes: 'Nothing can separate us. You remember I told you that long time ago and it's true.'
'I know it now.' 'She' smiled at him.
'There's so much I'd like to tell you... So much you still need to understand.'
'What about her?' 'She' hesitated.
'Don't worry, she won't remember... It's not important.
What matters is - us having another chance.
Lets go inside.' And he led her in.

...When she opened her eyes the sun was up and streaming in through an old fashioned long window. Her latest dream (or was it really a dream?) was loosing its edges, blending into the morning.
In a few moments she couldn't even recall it but for the first time in weeks she felt refreshed and somehow at peace.

Chapter 13 Lost and found

...'I don't know where or when it'll end.' She sighed. 'It feels like my life doesn't belong to me anymore.'
He looked at her and didn't say anything. She wasn't waiting for an answer.
'We need to see it through', he said after a while. 'Something that took this much out of our lives should mean something even if it isn't clear right now'.
'Do you think we'll ever know?' She looked at him with uncertainty in her eyes.
He wasn't sure what to say.

In the past weeks they were getting closer. Being together most of the time made them both very aware of each other's presence. The relationship that has been evolving in such unusual circumstances matured enough and was ready for another step. They carefully treaded the line too self-conscious to acknowledge the possibility of a deeper connection. The reality of dealing with the unsolved mystery was all too consuming.
At times the proximity itself made them seek space and distance.
He has been cautious not to disturb what they had and became too precious to loose. One wrong step and the ambiance would be broken.
She on her part also felt this tension but was afraid to speculate what it meant.

One of the evenings they were dining at a small dimly lit French caffe. Meals there were exquisite without being pretentious. Soft elegant music and impeccable service made it their favorite place in town.
Conversation stirred away from the purpose of their trip was drifting casually. Shimmering candle light tilted clear lines twisting them into new, unusual shapes. He was watching her rather than listening to the words. She was more relaxed and uninhibited. He liked the way she smiled. It would start in the corners of her mouth and then slowly move lighting up her eyes. There was a soft inviting glow about them.
When their eyes met it seemed like inaudible conversation continued adding to the words what couldn't be said.
She felt the unusual vibe of this situation. Something has changed and was moving fast. She could attribute it to the late evening, wine after the long day, or sleepless nights... but deep in her heart she knew it wasn't any of it.
It felt new, it was here, sweeping her off her feet.
Still, when the kiss came it did surprise her with its sudden unconcealed passion. It explained more than any words could.
She hesitated for a second and let it happened diving into unknown and yet so familiar.

Chapter 14 Finale

It was one of these days when things seemed to be exceptionally sharp in their clarity.
She was wondering why it didn't occur to her sooner. It was so simple.

He was coming down the little cobble stoned street towards her.
Morning sun was gently brushing against the walls of buildings giving them pinkish hue.
Feather like clouds where moving faster than they were supposed to across the sky.
Freshness of the unveiling day was full of promises.

There was something vaguely familiar about it all. Something that had already happened a lifetime ago. Yet it was a beginning of something new that came to live again.
She was looking at him and remembering another day, in another life where the same scene was unravelling with the precise accuracy. And it was herself who suddenly knew who he was, from all the dreams passing in blurry vision of something so painfully familiar, so dear...
She knew she would recognize him anywhere from a miriad of moments together, from what has been... sleeping now deep in the memories of her former self.

He was coming closer and seeing her he smiled.
The circle was finally complete.
She smiled back and waved at him.