The boy who dreamed
Once upon a time there was a little girl. She hadn't been born yet to the world, she was still just an idea, a thought, a potential. Each day she took form, each day she became more real until one day she was ready to be born.
A little boy already in the world, who felt alone, dreamed of her. He found himself in a world that was strange, a world he didn't feel part of and he longed for someone like himself, someone he could befriend, and someone who would understand him.
So he dreamed of her and called her into being.
What the little boy didn't know is that he could not control where she would be born or when, just that some day they would meet.
And so the little girl was born, and like the boy she felt alone and confused. Surely this was not her family; surely this was not the life she was meant to live? And yet she had a sense that she was not completely alone, that somewhere even if it wasn't on earth, there was someone she belonged to, someone she fitted with. And so she was brave and endured what had to be endured, overcame what needed to be overcome and grew up.
The little boy eventually forgot he had created the little girl, however sometimes, while he slept he remembered her and felt he saw her growing up year by year like him, drawing, inexorably closer.
And yet a veil separated them, kept them apart, at a distance, until even the dreams were foggy and faded.
The little girl forgot who had called her into being, but remembered where she had come from, remembered an angel who watched over her, and a place where she felt safe. She knew one day she would return there and she would be home.
Being in the world, neither child was safe. Often both longed to run away from the world, which was cruel and hard and unloving to each in its own way. But neither gave up, or gave in, although both tried to run away from its harshness.
One ran to adventure and to be a wanderer, to the world of experience. The other ran to the world of knowledge, looking for an answer, looking for the key to get home.
Their journeys were different and yet marked by similar signposts. Their lives offered lessons, sometimes ignored, sometimes recognized that drew them closer year by year across oceans and continents, through joys and sorrows, despair and celebration.
The little girl became a woman, and longed to love with all her being, but something held her back, stopped her revealing all of herself and so she loved with reservation and was loved back in the same way, not quite completely, not unconditionally. She tried to hide her wounds, play the part of someone whole, all the time fearing she would be caught out. And yet along with those wounds, deep within her ran a river of passion, deep and fast flowing, powerful and overwhelming. In her dreams she sometimes swam in its currents, but never, never in her waking hours did she dare to venture even to its banks.
The little boy became a man; he soaked up the world through his hands, his tongue, his eyes and ears. He felt the world of the senses and yet could not let himself feel the world of his heart. He knew he had lost something and yet the knowledge of it was always out of his reach, until he feared even to grasp for it. He knew how to give pleasure and ride on its edges but never let himself dive fully in - like the girl he kept the deepest of himself apart, hidden.
After many years of wandering this man ventured south, not really knowing why, drawn by something he could not name, but something that called him nonetheless. He wandered to the town where the girl, now a woman was stuck. She had sunk deep roots into the earth, perhaps because the desire to flee was so great and yet her destiny so strong that she must be held in place, bound until fate caught up with her. Bound until the time when the river deep inside her could break its banks and flood her life.
But for the time being, while the man unwittingly drew near, she remained sad, not knowing the rising tide within her would bring not pain but joy. And so she waited, feeling the deluge coming, hoping she would have the strength to survive it...
When rivers break their banks they either flood across plains, nourishing the earth, delivering silt from upstream to depleted soils below, or they rush through passages destroying everything in their path. Like a dam bursting, they release their pressure by invoking the power of the Goddess Kali - destroyer and mother of worlds.
For the woman it was the latter that she encountered. The river deep within her could be dammed no more and rose up with a force that was astonishing, sweeping aside her old life and tearing at the roots she had set down over many years. Those who thought they knew her were astonished, they saw the end result of the rising tide, the deluge, the debris of her life as it was swept away. The suddenness and force of it was dizzying, they did not know how to help her, and so they backed away, leaving her to her devastation, leaving her to her bewilderment and loneliness.
For the man, it was as if he was hit by the wreckage that was thrust out of the woman. He was on the outer fringes of the woman's life, their lives had barely touched each other when the force of it hit him, and so when he was struck he had no inkling what had happened or from where the wreckage had come. But strike him it did, rendering him altered, shifted and on a different path to the one he thought himself committed to. Bruised and battered he returned to the world, oblivious to the cause of the collision that had just occurred, but shifted by it nonetheless.
And the Goddess Kali worked her magic, first destroying and then creating. From the ashes of both lives she added her clay, new form and fire. Out of the wreckage new lives were wrought, new trajectories became possible, allowing the man and woman to recognise each other for the first time as the planets of their birth started to orbit around a new sun.
The woman was still tending to her own wounds, when the man took his first tentative steps into his new life - angry and yet relieved; each step was painful, humbling, frightening. And this is what the woman saw, what her soul acknowledged when she looked at him afresh - a man stripped of pretense, raw and most astonishingly - like her. The layers of his life could no longer hide his light, for they had been torn apart - and so she saw him.
Over the weeks and months to follow, she allowed herself to look again, and felt, as ridiculous and impossible as it seemed, that she recognized this man, that his light was familiar. And she felt a glimmer of hope.
The man was still tending to his wounds, when the woman took the first tentative steps into her new life - angry and yet relieved, each step was painful, humbling, frightening.
And this is what the man saw; a wild spirit caged for too long, now free but still afraid to venture out - a prisoner who had not yet realized the ramifications of her freedom. Over the weeks and months that followed, he noticed her, as if he could see through her loneliness and sadness, to the river of passion that now flowed just beneath the surface and he felt he might almost remember.
The first time they spoke, not as strangers, but as man and woman, something awoke deep inside her - a hope, however fleeting, that she might not be lost. The first time he kissed her something awoke deep inside him - a hope, perhaps distant, that his heart might not be dead.
The first time they made love, not as bodies, but as kindred souls, well that was something else...
And this is the story of that journey.
But first a little background. ..
Some say that we all arise from the same essential energy, that God is just our soul returning home, and that if we could play the story of the universe backward we would see souls recombining, until there was just one soul. Along this line of thought is the idea of the soul-mate, or the twin flame, someone that we were once a part of, before our soul divided to seek more experience.
It is said that when we find a soul-mate or twin flame, there is a sense of homecoming, of recognition, and that the sense of connection can be particularly intense, especially during sex.
Now that is not to say that this was the case with the man and the woman, for he had made her after all, called her into the world. What the man did not realize, however was exactly what he had made, for when he made her it was not just the child in him that had called her forth. His entire essence from infant to man had fashioned her. And yet, for the time being he denied who she might be.
So what he found, the first time they made love surprised him - the woman was not only familiar to him, but she fit him perfectly, rose-up to him in a rhythm that was his own, drew him out of himself in a way he had never expected.
And what she found was release on a scale unprecedented, she was rocked to her core. She wanted him in a way that was joyous, fulfilling and playful and he responded to her moods.
Their love-making was never rushed, it was deep and powerful. She opened up to him as if he could enter her soul; pierce her innermost recesses, thrust through every door in her psyche.
There was no part of her taboo to him. Every opening, every orifice was his, and he filled her with pleasure until she overflowed with his sex. At first there was pure relief, relief that the tide inside her could escape, relief that there was something more than she had found before. Next came the ecstasy, a pure unadulterated bliss, with a light that filled her eyes even when they were closed. Last came the knowing, the knowing that she was home, and that the key inside her had found its lock.
And yet the man still kept something apart. For him it was as if he had been placed under a spell, an enjoyable spell he had to admit, but not one powerful enough to open his heart.
While he felt deliciously seduced, unbelievably aroused and alive, he was not yet ready to surrender that innermost part of him. He desired to let down his defences more than anything in the world, and yet he still would not believe it could happen.
What he had forgotten, and what he almost remembered when he came in her full, clever mouth, was that it was he who had cast the spell all those decades ago, not the woman, and it was he who had placed the key to his heart within her when she was made.
The third time they slept a full night together, the woman had a dream. In the dream she was in a world not unlike her own, although slightly shifted. She was both in the dream and watching the dream and the part of her that watched the dream noticed that everything seemed to be a few degrees off where it normally would be.
In this other world she was at sea, clinging to a buoy. The buoy was the kind they use to warn ships about offshore shoals and reefs. It was an enormous buoy, much bigger than usual, but then the waves around it were massive too. The sea was boiling and yet the woman was not afraid. She seemed to be waiting for something or someone.
Titanic waves washed over the buoy and yet the woman was able to keep her balance and not be thrust into the wild sea. The sky was a strange luminous orange and lightning flashed at the edges of the horizon where a series of electrical storms were building. The waves rose and fell like incredible tumbling buildings of water, as if someone had set a detonator to toss them skyward. They crashed with such force that the roar of them was all she could hear. And she was listening intently, for something or someone important.
When she saw it, it appeared to be moving in slow motion, almost balletic in the way it rose on the back of the wave before being tossed hundreds of feet downward and then under the water. Its groan gave away its nature.
Steel, when it cries, is terrifying - its wail more horrible than the cry of a child in pain. For when steel cries any human knows that horror is coming. And when steel wails at sea, that signals that the sea has won, has overcome the fragile truce between man and nature and is about to toss even the most massive steel vessel as if it were made of matchsticks.
So when the woman heard the wail and moan of the steel, she knew her moment of destiny was approaching. When she saw it rise again from beneath the sea on the back of a second wave, she held her breath.
It was a freight ship - the kind they use to move goods across the world, the kind that pirates like to take and the sea likes to eat.
On a calm sea, the freighter looks in control, its load evenly distributed, its massive engines moving it inexorably toward its destination. When a freighter loses its equilibrium the load shifts and the trouble begins. If the sea senses this, senses its advantage, then things get really interesting. So as the tanker rolled for the second time right in front of the woman, its load came loose and shipping containers filled her sight before sinking to the bottom. The gooseflesh on her arms signalled it was almost her time, but not quite.
The ship was driven down for the second time. Her skin bristled, her muscles tightened. It was almost her moment, for on this occasion the ship would not resurface. This time the deep would take possession and call her to the bottom.
She jumped, the muscles in her thighs coiling and releasing, her arms reaching, her lungs filling with air, as she dove, headlong into the angry sea. She dove with purpose and the part of her that watched the dream marvelled that she could sustain her breath effortlessly. The part of her that was born to do this was in control now, fulfilling its destiny, plummeting headlong toward its fate.
She reached the ship as bodies began to float free toward the surface. They barely registered in the woman's mind as they were not her purpose. Their lives were not hers to save. She had one, and only one goal - to find the pilot.
He would be in the bridge, for this ship was due to enter the harbour soon, was in site of land when it was pulled under. He would have been plotting a course as she was taken - ready to take control of the massive ship, before control was ripped away from him.
He would be there still she knew; waiting. Locked in the bridge with no way to get out, drowning, he would be making his peace with the world, with the life he had chosen.
Her mind, her body was drawn to this prison like a homing beacon. As she reached the watery grave, she touched the cord around her neck and felt for the key that hung between her breasts. Pulling the necklace free of her body, she directed it into the lock of the bridge door and heard its click amplified by the water. When she swam inside she found him holding onto the last vestiges of his breath like she knew he would.
His eyes widened when he saw her, saw the key in her hand. She kissed him then, releasing the last of her breath into his lungs, giving herself up to the water, her purpose fulfilled. The man, at first stunned, returned her kiss as her mind started to shut down and the light in her eyes dimmed. He gave her just enough to keep her conscious, and then signalling to her to hold his neck, he swam. He swam out of the bridge into the ocean and up toward the stormy light above. He swam with every ounce of strength within him. She had found him, she had brought the key and he was free. All that was required of him was to keep them alive...
When the woman awoke from her dream, she was drenched and salty. It was as if she had brought some of the sea back from that other world. The man had woken too, and propped up on one elbow, he smiled a tired, happy, satisfied smile as he unfolded her left hand, intending to press his fingers between hers, roll her onto her stomach and kiss her back. His mind had already moved forward to the moment when he would hear her climax, when he was drawn back to the unexpected obstacle he encountered in her hand. Clenched tightly in her palm was a hard piece of metal.
His eyes traced down her arm to her palm, following the droplets of sweat gliding over her skin, when he saw it, and the imprint it had made on the woman's palm. Held in the woman's left hand on a cord of leather - was a key...