Art by: RUDOI
Story by: Federico Fontanella
She'd been walking inside dreams. Her footsteps echoed softly in the ethereal light, colourful shadows projected on her face – the black of nightmares, the green of youthful hopes, grey for an elderly fear, blood-red for an adolescent fantasy.
"Memories," she realized. "Memories of dreams?"
She reached out and touched a falling face. It was oddly familiar, but it faded away when she got closer. There was relief when she turned her back to it, and a flutter of wings brought her to another dream: a dog ran across a beach, back to a family.
A jolt ran through her. Something... what was it?
Joy. Loss. Time.
The dream was speaking to her.
That was like a hook. She flew from dream to dream, wanting to live them all. But... who was the dreamer? And how had she got there?
Yes. A gift that hurt, somewhat. Something visceral she couldn't understand. Around her, the shadows turned white as snow.
"The next dream. The next dream will tell me."
The white faded and she moved on. She was sliding, rather than walking, from one to the next; their souls flooded her when she touched them. With each, she got farther away, so far away.
“Don’t think about it – it feels good.” She kept going.
The dreams were deeper and colder, here. Only sometimes they were interrupted by a face that fell eternally, a face which made no sound, deafening in the million other voices. When she moved closer, the dreams receded. She heard the face speak and that primordial ache returned – she needed a vision to quiet it once more, so she turned away–
and found a scream, frozen in its pain. She traced it with her finger and it melted around her, oozing and boiling on her skin. Next to her, a face that fell in silence.
The scream had the scent of hurt, the face spoke of peaceful quiet. Yet the former was comforting, the latter unsettling.
The question, she found, was enough. It took the veil from her eyes: the scream vanished into white, and a deep angst clenched her gut. Though she breathed no air, she was gasping.
"No. No. Turn back!"
Behind her, birds flew in an endless red. The chirping and fluttering of wings were the most soothing sounds she'd ever heard: she watched them through her tears.
"I saw them. I dreamed about them."
A little girl, with unruly black curls, sat on the balcony, mouth agape as birds flew in the sky, her brother next to her.
"My brother's gift."
The sun the birds were flying to was shaped like a face. It sank into the horizon, with sad lips and dark hair like a sea.
No more. The white was all around her. Blissful oblivion.
But still she cried.
Why was she dying?