She woke with the moon still peeking through her window. It wasn’t dawn yet but she could feel the morning waiting for the first songs from the wrens that nested in the seven birdhouses she’d tacked up on the beams of her carport two years earlier.
She turned on her side, remembering every scene from the dream that woke her. It wasn’t a new dream. She’d had the exact same one since she was a teenager. In the beginning, it had given her a case of the shivers but as the years passed it had become a friend of sorts; there waiting for her at least twice a month.
The woman in that dream always stood on a cliff, with her eyes forever searching as the waves pounded the rocky shore. The sea seemed to sing in her dream, as if it wept for that woman. Her long chestnut hair blew about her face and the dress that touched her ankles moved with that same breeze.
When she’d turned twenty, she finally realized the woman was her.
Just once, she’d been startled by the face because for the first and only time, the woman had turned and looked at her. She’d laid there for a good while waiting for her heartbeat to slow down. Her lightweight nightgown was damp and she could tell that her breath just before she woke had been rapid. Now that face in profile was as familiar as the one that stared back at her in the mirror.
With her twenty fifth birthday less than a week away she smiled, got up, brewed a pot of coffee, read her email, filled the three birdfeeders and then began to pack. Two weeks with no work and an airline ticket to England made her almost giddy. Her dream had always been to see the Cornish coast and now it was finally happening. She’d read so many romance books that took place there or somewhere close by, it felt like she knew exactly what she’d see. After dropping a spare key off at a neighbor’s, she hailed a taxi and headed for the airport.
The flight was wonderful. She watched the sunset while they flew through clouds and she even thought she’d seen a hint of the northern lights far off in the distance. She slept as best she could, curled up in a light blanket with a pillow, and when the captain finally announced that they were closing in on London, she waiting patiently for a chance to use the tiny restroom.
She washed the sleep from her face, put on a smattering of fresh makeup, straightened her shirt, and finally tugged at the studded jeans she’d worn.
After debarkation, customs, and a short wait to claim her bags, she boarded a bus that would take her to the modest hotel she’d booked. She planned on renting a car and driving the rest of the way, but not until morning. She laughed to herself for just a moment, thinking about driving through her neighborhood in the middle of the night, just to be sure she'd be able to manage steering from the wrong side of the road. Although she hadn’t found it all that hard, it had been awkward and of course the wheel was still on the wrong side.
Even as tired as she was, she threw her suitcase and carry on across the bed of her room and then stood in line with at least twenty others, waiting for a tour of London. It was a driving tour, supposedly meant to entice you to visit longer. All the same, she had a chance to glimpse the things they passed, planning on spending at least four days doing all the tourist things once again only by foot, just before flying home. She ate at the hotel, took a hot bath and went to bed. After smiling her way through the past 24 hours while it replayed in her head, she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
The next morning, she raced around packing what she’d pulled out, rented a car, paid her bill and had a quick bite to eat. With a cup of coffee to go and with only a map she set off on her four-hour drive. She’d hoped she’d be able to snag a car with a GPS system, but they were all gone and none were expected back until evening. The gentleman who’d taken the information he needed and made copies of everything else, helped as best he could.
Falmouth wasn’t a tiny town he’d explained and there would be signs along the way. All the same somewhere close but not close enough, she’d gotten turned around and ended up in the little town of Torquay.
After a wonderful lunch, she wandered along the main streets, looking in windows and buying a few trinkets here and there. One was a plate embossed with sea animals that seemed to be hand painted. She knew it would look perfect in her kitchen along with the six others she’d collected at flea markets and second hand shops.
In a little alley, she saw a sign that looked as if it hadn’t been touched in a hundred years, As a matter of fact, when she entered the shop it looked as if it was lost in time. Old pictures graced the walls like sentinels forever watching. Silver spoons with crests that were tarnished, beaded handbags, men’s riding crops, and leather gloves sat on ornate tables as if they’d been there for years. Each one was covered in white lace that had turned slightly yellow with age.
Suddenly she stopped in mid-step, seeing a painting of the woman in her dream. This time she stood on a cliff, facing away from the sea. Her eyes looked as if you could touch the tears that had settled in the corners; eyes that were enthralled by a man not far away. He was black haired with high cheekbones, a cleft chin, and the tall v-shaped body of well-proportioned man. To her, it seemed that he’d walked out from a book she’d recently read.
Her eyes misted over as she picked it up, as sure as she could be that it must go home with her. As she walked toward the empty counter, she spoke just over a whisper, “Is anybody here?”
A few minutes later a man came from around the corner, with his head down as he polished the silver inlay of a teapot. Looked up at her and for a long moment, he stared and then he grinned. Finally, he spoke with the lilting accent that was a part of the coastal area. “You finally came. You even found the painting.”
She wanted to speak; she wanted to say something but her words refused to come. Instead she blushed like a schoolgirl while her heart beat with a rhythm she’d never felt.
“I’ve dreamed of you a thousand times or more,” he continued as his grin changed into a glorious smile. “That’s the two of us, last time around. I never made it home to finish what we started. You knew we’d all died but still you waited, forever watching the churning sea.”
She looked once again at the painting and then looked up at him. “How can that be?” she questioned even though her heart told her it was true. “This is not a novel. This is real life.”
“Ah, novels are only memories,” he stated as he came closer while his blue eyes sparkled back at her. “Memories of what has come and gone. They are but the past, waiting to be newborn.”