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Happily Ever After: Sodalis Vitae

By Mertz

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 1

His eyes open to find blue skies and white fluffy clouds floating by. Turning his head, he notes the tall grass and colorful wild flowers surrounding him in the meadow he is lying in. The light wind ruffles his hair and the sound of running water from the nearby creek fills his ears. Sitting up, Keith Kogane groans to himself, “No! I thought I was done with this!”

Almost on cue, the soft sounds of a woman’s tears reach him. Using his hands to support himself and pivoting, Keith finds a woman sitting a short ways away from him. Sitting in the grass with her knees pulled up to her chest, she hides her face behind her crossed arms as she continues to cry. Her long blonde hair moves gently behind her from the slight breeze. Grimacing, Keith slowly rises to his feet. He stares down at the woman he has seen in his dreams since the time he was a child with trepidation. The dreams hadn’t bothered him in years…since Beverly. During his relationship with her, the dreams had halted. Perhaps this is a way for his mind to deal with her death?

Finally, the woman seems to notice his presence. Her head lifts, those beautiful sapphire eyes, red and puffy from her tears, widen in surprise as she looks up at him. Rising slowly from the ground, her hand reaches out to him as if she expects him to disappear and she whispers, “You’re here?”

Feeling highly uncomfortable, Keith can only reply, “Yes.”

She flies at him the next moment, her arms wrapping around his waist, her cheek coming to a rest against his chest as she exclaims, “I thought something had happened to you! It’s been over two years! Where have you been?”

Taking a step back when he doesn’t immediately answer, she stares up into his eyes almost accusatory, “I thought you were going to come for me?”

Shaking his head, Keith moves back to create more distance between them, forcing her to release him entirely. He replies, “This is just a dream. None of this is real.”

The young woman looks sadly at him, “I’m still waiting for you Keith Kogane. I’m still waiting for you to keep your promise to save me.”

“NONE OF THIS IS REAL!” Keith screams back at her.

Sitting upright in bed as he is ripped from his dream, Keith Kogane takes several deep breaths in an attempt to calm his fast beating heart. Wiping the sweat away from his brow, he turns to his side to turn on the lamp sitting on the bedside table. Light floods the room, showing his stark quarters within the Garrison compound. Boxes from his life with Beverly line most of the wall space, most of them still unopened. He had barely unpacked his clothing since his return to Galaxy Garrison. His eyes light on the picture of his wife sitting on the desk across the room. It was taken on their honeymoon. Beverly stood with her back to the ocean, smiling at him. Tears fill his eyes as he thinks of her and the life torn away from them both.

Tossing back the blankets, Keith rises and moves to the door leading to his bathroom. Unlike most men staying at the compound, he had his own bathroom. One of the few joys his rank granted him. Turning on the tap, he splashes cold water on his face then picks up a towel to dry it. The towel slides out of his fingers to land back on the bathroom counter as he stares at himself in the mirror. Dark brown eyes, almost black with pain, stare back at him. Dark whiskers from several days’ growth line his hallowed out cheeks. A month…

A month since his wife had been taken from him and his entire life flipped upside down. Three weeks since he had packed up everything that was worth keeping, sold or gave away the rest, and returned to his old life at Galaxy Garrison. Admiral Graham understood his need to get away from everything that reminded him of her. He had been reinstated as a commander. Commander of what, is still the remaining question.

Running a hand through his overly long hair, Keith leaves the bathroom and returns to his room. His eyes fly to his bed and his dream returns to him. Shaking his head, he sits down at his desk to stare blindly at the wall in front of him as he thinks back. The dreams started when he was around eight years of age. Then, a little girl, who couldn’t have been more than four or five, sat in the meadow. Wearing a pink dress with her long, blonde hair braided into two strands that ran down the length of her back, she hummed a song while twisting wild flowers into a crown. She had smiled up at him when he appeared, delighted to have a playmate. And play together they did. They would run wild in the meadow, climb the nearby trees, and stomp around in the water of the creek.

The dreams continued for years. He watched the little girl grow up, grew up with her. She shared her secrets with him, her dreams. Until one dream, about six years later, he found her crying in the meadow. She told him bad people had come and taken everything away from her, her parents, her siblings, their people, her home, her world. Being young and idealistic, Keith had promised her he would find her and save her. He would make the bad people pay for what they had done.

Little had he known what an impossible promise he had made. The dreams became fewer as he entered his teenage years and became involved in school, sports and of course, his beloved martial arts. His entrance into the Space Academy at sixteen had further pushed those dreams away. However, they always returned, and the little girl grew into a young woman. She would tell him of the misery that she, and the few people who survived, suffered and would plead with him each time, reminding him of his promise.

Keith graduated from the Academy early and quickly rose through the Garrison ranks, becoming one of the youngest commanders in the history of Galaxy Garrison. He never failed a mission, never. He was on the path to join the highest ranks when he met Beverly and all his ambitions went out the window along with the dreams of the meadow. Beverly taught him to laugh, to love, to enjoy the simple things life had to offer. She hated it when he left the planet on long, dangerous missions. For her, he quit Garrison entirely, becoming a transport pilot. Not his dream job, but he had his dream life, with her. After the funeral, Keith couldn’t fathom staying in their apartment, much less that life, without her. He was surprised when Admiral Graham had eagerly met with him and gave him back the life he had left behind over two years before without nary a thought.

Sighing deeply at his troubled thoughts, Keith bends over and rests his head between his hands. The dreams had returned after years of absence, but why now? Now, when his life is ripped upside down. He grimaces at the thought of, Maybe Sven is right…maybe I should see a psychiatrist.

His Norwegian friend kept advising Keith to find someone to talk to, something he had refused to do since Beverly’s death. Another deep sigh escapes him. Hopefully, the admiral would send for him today. This waiting, with nothing to do but his daily regimen and catching up on Garrison standards and policies, is beginning to wear on him. Glancing at the clock on his bedside table, he notes the time. He had three hours until he had to be up and dressed. Three hours left to sleep, and hopefully, not dream. Rising, Keith slowly walks over to the bed. He lays down, pulling the blankets up around him. Turning off the light, he closes his eyes and wills his mind away from dreams of flower-filled meadows and beautiful blondes, who beg for the impossible.

Sitting up in bed as she awakens, Princess Allura of Arus wipes at the tears sliding down her cheeks. She had given up on ever seeing her soul mate again after his long absence. She thought something had happened to him, that he was no more. She had mourned for the man she had yet to meet in person but loved for most of her life. To find Keith Kogane in her dreams again only for him to yell at her that none of it was real and disappear is devastating. Sliding from between the covers, Allura pads across the dark room. She lights the wick of the candle on the table then sits. Leafing through the stacks of papers, she finally comes to the one she is looking for. Pulling out the image she had drawn of him shortly after he stopped coming to her, she stares at it. The last two years have changed him. He now looks older, rougher about the edges, as if life had been hard and it shows in the lines on his face.

“Princess? Whatever are you doing up at this hour?”

Turning in her chair, Allura looks back at her father’s advisor. Coran Montrane saved her life when Doom had infiltrated the castle that fateful day. He’d taken care of her, seen to her safety, and taught her everything she would need to know to one day take her place as Queen of Arus. Smiling at her father figure, she replies, “I saw him.”

“You saw your sodalis vitae?” the older man questions, his bushy eyebrows angling together. “I thought him gone?”

“I as well,” the princess responds. “But he didn’t seem happy to see me.”

“Oh?” Coran replies as he sits down in the chair next to hers. He glances at the picture in her hands before asking, “What did he say?”

“He yelled at me that I wasn’t real!” she answers, tears sliding down her cheeks. “After so many years, how can he think me an illusion?”

“Perhaps on his world, dream walks with one’s sodalis vitae are not normal,” Coran answers logically while pulling at his mustache. “So his grown up mind rejects the images of his youth.”

“What can I do?” asks Allura, wiping at her tears once more.

“Be patient,” he advises, “he will come to you again. Nothing can keep two souls destined to be together apart.”

Smiling softly at his words, Allura nods. The older man smiles back then says, “Best return to your bed now.”

Nodding, Allura rises with Coran’s help. She hugs him while whispering, “Thank you.”

“You are welcome, Princess,” Coran replies.

Picking up the candlestick, he walks her back to her bed, leaving the light beside her. She waits until he leaves the room then blows out the candle. Closing her eyes, Allura wills herself back to sleep, hopeful to find her soul mate waiting for her in their meadow once more.

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