Chapter 10. Day six
— I’ve recalled it! — I exclaimed, opening my eyes wide, which is why Misha, who was lying next to me, woke up with a start.
— What, another bad dream? He mumbled, raised himself up, looked around sleepily, then lay back on the pillow and stretched out, the duvet cover slid down his chest, revealing the elastic muscles of his torso.
— Aaa-weee-sooome, — I said drawlingly, slowly got up and sat up, pulling my knees up to my chest, my arms wrapped around them.
Misha got up calmly, leaving me in an empty bed, picked up his trousers lying on the floor, put them on with the words: “Don’t worry, it’s just a dream,” and went to the kitchen.
Seeing him with a glance, I whispered in a hoarse voice, putting my palms on my forehead: “Incredible.” Why is he afraid to confess to me who he is? During the last days he was good at misleading me, and I believed that next to me there was a completely unfamiliar person. What for? He could have told me immediately, still on the beach of Bat Yam, that he is my “invisible friend.”
Incredible? Yes. I have no idea how that is possible, but I can’t have been mistaken, my dream is a memory lost in the consciousness of an infant child. It can’t be refuted.
Misha quickly returned, sat on the edge of the bed and handed me a glass of coffee, leaned his elbows on his knees, slightly stooped, took a deep breath and looked at me. Still sleepy and a bit lost. I looked intently into his eyes, trying to collect my thoughts. I didn’t even know what to start the conversation with. I had been swallowing the coffee, still keeping my eyes on him, until the glass was empty. For a few seconds, maybe a minute, we were silently looking at each other.
Finally, Misha asked:
— Anna, why are you looking at me in such a strange way? — Then he frowned a little and lowered his eyes to the wooden floor.
— You know why.
He shook his head briefly, expressing refusal.
— And if you think well? — I tried to push him to the answer.
Once again he shook his head, expressing refusal, on top of everything else he only shrugged. He seemed to be even more off.
— OK, — I sighed and put the glass on the bedside table. — Perhaps you are right, and it was just another bad dream, that meant nothing (no way, nothing would shake my conviction). How about having dinner? After all, we’ve slept through breakfast and lunch.
He reached out to me, kissed me briefly on my lips and whispered in my ear:
— You’re right, something’s gone wrong.
— Do you want to talk about it? — I asked, hugging his neck.
— I do, but not now, I’ll hold back my confession and arguments until dinner.
Misha and I went outside at sunset, but the southern city of Eilat still didn’t get cool after a hot day. The heat was coming along the sidewalk from the street tiles, cars parked on the sides of the road and concrete fences of hotels. A lively promenade stretching for several kilometers was decorated with colorful lights. Palms, decorated with garlands created the atmosphere of holiday, and the twinkling neon signs of shops, souvenir shops, restaurants and bars were tempting with the offers of lucrative discounts.
The white silk dress I was wearing was gently and pleasantly touching my skin and let the dry wind go through the almost weightless fabric. Misha put on a light black short-sleeved shirt and loose denim shorts. Any clothes looked perfect on him, even though the shirt’s short sleeves tightly griped his biceps, and denim shorts hung loosely on his hips.
Misha’s friends invited him to spend a night of fun on a rented yacht. Their stocks of booze, all kinds of herbal narcotic mixtures and chemical powders impressed even me, who had seen a large number of parties in all their diversity. But Misha persistently explained to his friends that he wanted to stay with me without the presence of a noisy company. And when he had to return to the house for his forgotten wallet, Dima told me unpleasantly: “I don’t know what’s going on between you, but I can’t recognize my friend.” Then he shook his head and left.
— Shall we pop in? — said Misha, pointing at the coastal bar-restaurant under the open sky, tightly clutching my palm in his hand. The tension, growing in him could be felt.
When we’d sat at a table with the Red Sea view, a young waitress came to us and took the order. The sun almost hid behind the horizon, and the first stars began to light up in the sky. The sea froze in tranquility, in the distance there were yachts, plowing its waters. The semicircle of beach line stretched for many kilometers, and on the left you could see the lights of neighboring Jordan.
— I’ve already forgotten how beautiful it is here, — I said.
— And I’ve already forgotten what it is like — to experience pleasure, contemplating the beauty of earthly life, — dully said Misha, who was sitting next to me; he frowned looking at the sea fixedly.
I put my hand on his shoulder and put my head on his neck, warm and tangible. As for me, there was absolutely no reason for sadness. I wanted to cuddle with him for a long time, to touch him, to feel his skin under my fingers and drown in serenity. I didn’t want to run away from him at all; on the contrary, I wanted to return to him from the first day of my acquaintance with him — how could he be sad?
At this time, the waitress brought our order, put on the table a large plate with the salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and greens, sprinkled on top with small cubes of white cheese, two servings of ravioli and two servings of whiskey.
Misha didn’t touch the food, lit a cigarette and took a few sips from a glass of whiskey. I pulled the plate of salad to me and began to impale cheese cubes on my fork.
— Well, so will you tell me how this can be? — I wondered.
— Do you remember our recent talk in your rented apartment? — In response, I silently shook my head, expressing agreement, and, continued giving our dinner the status of “joint,” I began to eat salad in relaxed manner, although my pulse was racing faster and faster because of excitement. — You listened to your feelings and made the right conclusion. Do you want to see our house and the place where we used to live? I can show you.
Continuing chewing cheese, I looked at Misha with interest.
— Lean back and close your eyes. Just for a second, a part of the memories will fly by before you bat an eyelash, — he said.
I followed his instructions, and when I opened my eyes, I saw the endless sky strewn with small twinkling stars.
— The Ursa Major constellation, you can probably see it from anywhere in the world, — I heard Misha’s voice familiar low timbre.
We lay side by side in the wet grass, leaning shoulder to shoulder. The air was clean and fresh, like after the rain.
— Russia, fifty three years ago. Our past life. — Having finished, he got up and gave me his hand, I took it. Having stood up, I looked back.
The clearing we were standing in was surrounded by a dark forest, sprawling treetops in the light of the full moon were swinging in the wind and far away on the right, the lights of a large one-story wooden house on the shore of the lake could be seen.
I looked at Misha, the stubble on his face was no longer so short, the hair on his head became longer, the strands fell on his forehead, even the facial features changed, they became coarser. He was wearing a loose white shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbows, casually tucked into worn out brown trousers of strange cut. Then I lowered my head, examining myself: the hem of a long blue dress with a wide belt at the waist was fluttering in the wind, my blond curly hair was falling on my chest.
I glanced at the house again, there was a massive wooden table with chairs at the wide timbered veranda. A picture flashed in my mind, as Misha, who had once existed and now newly found, is putting plates on the table, and I am putting glasses next to them, and we… we are happy, free and happy.
— I remember, — my voice trembled thrillingly.
Misha approached me and gently kissed me hugging. My eyes automatically closed. As soon as they opened, everything became the same. Eilat, the beach, a table in the coastal restaurant and the air, which became stale and hot again.
Misha was sitting with his head aloof, resting his elbows on the table. I put my hand on his shoulder and asked:
— Why were you… Why were you only an “invisible friend” for me all this time? What happened then?
— First you died. Drowned in the lake, at the age of twenty-six, — he said in a firm tone. — Your name was Maria then. Your body was found a few days later, it got tangled in the grass, so it did not surface immediately.
Once I imagined for a second my swollen, blue body, which was wrapped by the long leaves of dark green algae, as the cold ran down my back, despite the heat. And my joy gradually began to disappear.
— I couldn’t continue living without you; my life lost its meaning. I hated everything, refused God’s gifts, and partly believed that it was me myself who was to be blamed for everything. I shouldn’t have let you go to the lake alone at night. You march to your own drummer, you rarely listen to anyone, you constantly do everything in your own way, but I thought that it was my fault that I had not insisted on getting my own way. — He lit another cigarette and drank the remaining whiskey from the glass. — After your death, I started to go crazy. For several days I almost didn’t get out of bed, didn’t sleep, but only lived on my memories.
Yet still when I went to the first date with him real, the thoughts that flashed in my mind were right. His look — he seemed to have seen in me a long time familiar person and couldn’t believe that we met again. Intuition is a strange thing; you accept it for a fact only after you receive an obvious confirmation.
— You died in an accident, so you were able to return. And I … — He hesitated a little, but continued after a couple of seconds, quickly uttering the words. He tried to suppress his emotions, but still when saying some sentences, emotions appeared to be stronger than he was. — I couldn’t resist. I succumbed to pain and despair. I slashed wrists on the porch of our house with the very knife with which we had cut the wedding cake a few months ago. I couldn’t know that we would meet again, and if I had known that, I would have waited, even if it took my whole life. I went a short way and saw what happens when a person encounters death. Believe me, it is so terrible for suiciders that all the words are not enough to describe that fear. It is limitless, incomparable to anything. We have no right to dispose of our lives; it is not for us to decide who should live and who should die. I doomed my soul to torment in the madness of fear. I ended up in hell. But you know, even there a part of you did not leave me. You addressed me and thanks to you I managed to escape. And even if I could not be a human any more, I could be next to you, I could become the one who protects, the one who helps, when there is no one to hope for, the one who inspires faith. Those like me, you call them angels. You could see me a few months after you were born, until you realized the essence of the things around you.
I leaned closer to him. I covered his palm, which he laid on my knee, with my hand and only then I realized how cold and wet my fingers had became.
— And how did you manage to become a human again?
Not that I’ve made sense of everything utterly and completely, I just tried very hard to take this situation for granted, with complete peace of mind, although I was already beginning to fever from the inside. I was ready for my “invisible friend’s” confession, but didn’t assume that his confession would be like that. Well, like this… frightening frank.
— I was allowed to return for seven days, seven days that I can spend with you. This is not my body, but the body of a guy who we are very similar with. And his name is the same as mine — Michael. I made a deal with him and fulfilled his wish. For a long time he had been developing his business with his friends, I contributed to the fact that they entered into an agreement with the state construction company for several years in advance. And now he can earn the money he had dreamed of. The creatures like me are forbidden to enter the body of a person without his consent, but still one time I could not restrain myself. Do you remember Efie? Later I got it in the neck, but it was worth it. — Of course, I remembered that incident with Efi that blew up my mind, but so far I couldn’t say anything. — Each world has its own rules and laws, it is forbidden to violate them, and each world rests on them. Our acquaintance should have happened in usual and simple way, in accordance with the events that happen in ordinary earthly life, and everything was to end differently. — The last sentence he uttered quite annoyed, cursed almost audibly and put out his cigarette.
I was so glad that we managed to meet in real life, and not in my imagination, that I didn’t think at all about everything else. Even about the fact that all of this can end as suddenly as it had begun. I felt good with him, and it felt like this “good” was here to stay. That it would last and last… because everything went so well, so easily and so quickly. Just the way things are.
— Anna, listen, — continued Misha, — you were able to keep love for me even in the life where you didn’t have me. You heard only my voice and considered me a friend, and I could only become friend for you, because I was assigned such a role. And I was forbidden to tell you about everything, otherwise I would come back. — He squeezed his fingers under my palm into a fist, then opened them and sighed heavily: — Damn, my hands begin to shake just at the bare mention of hell.
— But now you told me everything, it means … — I gave him a pleading look, showing: “no, just don’t tell me that you will leave.”
— So, I will have to go back there soon. I ignored the order when you realized who I was and didn’t leave. Yes, I was joking, calling you a psychic, but this is partly true. You can feel and understand too much, you are a person of penetration, Anna. Tablets should have blocked your brain, respectively, and our connection, as well. But despite this…
— … I chose you, — I finished the sentence for him and added: — My life is connected with you. I don’t need anything else, all the rest — trifles that can be achieved. Together with you I feel confident that everything will be fine. I want to live every day with you.
Misha looked at me as if he had already heard the words I said, and it was more likely that he had; he’d heard them in our past life. Pretending to be a new acquaintance in recent days, he knew absolutely everything, remembered everything, understood and didn’t look for meaning in what was happening. In spite of everything, he was just enjoying the present.
As someone who returned from hell once told me: “You should treat life as if you had lost everything, but you were given a second chance. And you should do it every day”.
— I wanted to fix everything, obeyed all the orders, “they” knew that I would go above and beyond, and I agreed to take people’s souls, these people did not die at the mercy of fatality. And your dreams — unborn children, teenagers who didn’t see life, or terminally ill people who prayed for the heavens to prolong their life — this is my present. I want to be here with you, but I’m sorry, I don’t know how to do it yet. After all, I once returned from hell, and believe me, if they send me back there, I will come back again, but I will not carry out any more orders. And when you find yourself in your room, don’t do anything.
My room again? At the moment it was not so important, I was scared because of Misha’s last words. I was afraid for him and beyond all measure offended, because he had to suffer for the sake of someone’s interests, in the name of maintaining the correct operation of the system. Everything has been arranged. My death pushed him to suicide, he made a mistake that led him to hell. Freedom and the opportunity to be with me — in exchange for complete submission. So there you have a perfect soldier.
— I could have left, obeying the order, and erase your memories of past days spent together, but it seems to me that this does not make sense. Even if there are no memories, the feelings will remain, and you will suffer again and won’t understand why you are attracted to a person who in fact was not there.
Then what can I do? Accept it and continue living on after he leaves? Yes, yes, no problem, I will dutifully wait, hoping for a miracle. And what if everything will settle?
Is it possible?
— It seems that you don’t understand what you are asking for. You suggest me waiting patiently for you to return not knowing what’s going on with you and how you are?
— Yes. Will you promise me? — He was looking into my eyes with a fixed stare, as if trying to hypnotize and inspire something.
— Anna! — He is demanded in a tone that brooked no contradiction.
— No, — I replied in a tone, disgraceful to his objections.
— You must promise. — He knew that I wasn’t the one to throw around idle promises. We are similar in this.
— I won’t promise anything. Let’s go back to the house? I don’t feel well, — I said, being afraid to lose grasp of his hand.
Each of us has already planned his own moves.
I only needed some time to understand how everything works. Just some more time.
Yet another morning, pushed the rays of the dawn sun through the window, they fell on the bed, where Misha and I lay naked, covered by the empty duvet cover.
I was looking at the face of my once “invisible friend”, casting a shadow on the pillow, and deeply hoped that this was not our last morning with him. He was able to give me happiness by being close in physical appearance, filling my thoughts with joy. He opened the boundaries of previously incomprehensible sensations, and he… He is still here, even if only for a short while. He’s looking at me, patting on the shoulder. Smiling, enjoying the moment together with me.
— Misha, do you know how our world was created? — I decided to ask him.
— Yes, — he answered shortly, running his hand over my cheek and reaching for my lips.
— And do you know about the one who created it?
— Yeah, — he wanted to kiss me, but I pulled back a little.
— Does God really exist?
— Yes, he does, — he said calmly. I was looking at him with interest, anticipating that he would tell me about something so unbelievable amazing. — God All-seeing, sits in heaven, on an iron throne, and observes people. With special attention — such beautiful young girls like you, managing to enjoy his creation. — A barely perceptible stinging smile flashed on his face.
— Very witty. I asked you seriously. Can you answer? — shoving him slightly in the chest, I demanded in a hurt tone.
— Yes, I can. — He reluctantly stood up, leaned on his arm bent at the elbow and spoke seriously: — Just everything is arranged so that those who live in the earthly world will never find the answer to the question of how their world really works. Human brain was created with certain peculiarity, and it lies in the fact that it is impossible to see, realize, explain and prove the existence of those who created the world. Cultivated minds of scientists can put forward theories, there will be lots of them, but they won’t have a one hundred percent confirmation, supported by evidence. After all, there can be no proof itself. It simply doesn’t exist. You can believe in any of the theories you like. I won’t find the words to explain; so respectively, even if I understand, I cannot tell you so that you would understand. Everything that surrounds you is your clear model for understanding reality. Partly, this reality is formed by you, gradually, step by step, day after day, in a clearly calculated sequence of time allotted for life. This is how your world works, the world where time, although it goes ahead, has a countdown. The world where life flows measuredly, but if you look back, it is only a short moment of memory. My world has no boundaries, there is no time and space in it, there are completely different principles. It is a world created to maintain order, so that your world won’t plunge into ultimate chaos, a place where the soul gets after the death of the physical body, and can remain there. Like mine, for example. Just as you obey the rules and order of your world, I obey the rules of my world. But you can be sure that the creators had something to do here. And just for you to know the world where I could feel you, touching, — this is exactly the place which I want to be in. I began to deny the world without you even before I died. How did you say about it? Your life became empty? Well, for me, it became empty too. I thought death was the end, but it turned out to be completely different.
He fell silent, looked at my deeply thoughtful face. Being silent he was waiting until the information received would be finally processed in my head; he didn’t wait for an early response, nevertheless decided that this process would take a long time, and asked:
— Do you have any more questions on this topic?
— No, I… understood. — I can’t say that I understood everything, but I understood the main thing: wherever each of us is and whatever side we are on, we will always feel each other. Sighing heavily, I eagerly embraced him, in fear that he would disappear. — I’m so tired, Misha, my eyes are closing. Before you appeared, I worked almost every night like a crazy, I had time to train and go to clubs and run to meaningless dates. I was constantly in a rush somewhere, just not to stay on the same place. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Now I understand why, and only now I begin to feel how tired I am. But… I’m scared to fall asleep.
— Do not worry, I am with you, — he answered, his warm breath next to my ear was as intermittently warming as the phrases he uttered from time to time, like the one he has just said.
— I mean that you might not be here when I wake up. You’ll return to your world — without boundaries, without time, without space.
— Everything will be fine, have a sleep. — He got out of bed, went to the window, pressed the button that lowered the blinds, then turned on one of the dim lamps on the bedside table and climbed under the thin duvet cover. He hugged me by the waist, pulled me close and pressed his chest against my back. He seemed to have said something, but I didn’t hear it anymore, tiredness won the field, and I fell asleep.