Zeina saw her again in her dream. She wasn’t sure if that was her own self as a child or her future daughter. This time she was seven years old. There stood the little girl before her, so vivid, looking at her. Waiting.
Why lately? Was the little girl here to remind her of something or tell her she missed her? Was she here to remind her of the future, better days ahead?
She had come to her as a baby before. Her skin so white, her hair dark. Now she was a girl who wore her hair in two plaits and who had the most amusing expression on her face. Her skin was tanned, slightly sun-burned.
It must be time travel! But who was traveling to see whom? Her daughter, no doubt.
The most puzzling question was why the little girl always showed up with "him". Always looking at them both in the dream.
Was he going to be her father?
She missed him. But he made it up to her in dreams.
Zeina often thought she enjoyed being asleep than awake. She had another life with him—an alternate one. They would talk, laugh and make love then. In dreams, they were husband and wife and together had the most loving family. In dreams, he touched her and told her how much he loved her. In real life, she was willingly alone, though often scared of her own loneliness. In real life, they were still strangers, separated by miles, doubts and dark thoughts.
Long ago Zeina believed there was a dark chamber in everyone's heart where all sad memories and darkness were kept and locked. Once unlocked, she would become the worst version of herself: angry, depressed and self-destructive. No, she wouldn’t unlock it.
But this time was different. This time she longed to throw the key away so all darkness would come out and diffuse from her heart to the universe around her. The chamber was so full and her heart felt so heavy. A million smiles didn't help. And now she longed for him more than she had longed for anyone her whole life. She did not want to feel weak. And he was her only weakness.
She longed to be free.
Of herself. Of him.
She wanted to free herself for her future self...and her daughter. The one who came to check on her every once in a while. The one that wanted to remind her of a future so near…or far away.
When Zeina woke up that day, she remembered so well her daughter’s face. She also noticed the tears streaming down her own. She grabbed a blank paper and started drawing and shading. When she was done, she added the painting to her daughter's collection: drawings of her as a newborn then aged three and now seven.
I must be going mad! Zeina told herself.
She had never desired anyone but him, nor loved anyone more than him. Isn’t that how he had showed up in her life first…through dreams?
She should have asked her, she thought to herself. She should have asked her time traveling daughter about the future…and most importantly about dates and major events.
What was it she said in their last dream?
No, she was silent. Like she wasn’t allowed or ordered not to talk so as not to mess up future events. But the hug. The hug spoke a language of its own. It was so warm. Her daughter was clinging to her. Tears rolled down Zeina’s face. For a very long time, she believed she wasn’t destined to be a mother.
She had written them down: those dreams with her daughter in them. She had written every single one down. In another life, Zeina would have been a mother with a loving family.
May be dreams were the “real life” where there were no boundaries, restrictions or broken hearts. Everything was the way it should be. Her salvation. With those that matter.
She grabbed a piece of paper and started writing:
Our future daughter came to see me again last night. She looked so lovely. And she seemed sun-tanned. Too much fun days in the sun, I hope. She was watching us silently. You were crying and asking for my love. I cried, too, and told you how much I loved you.
I promise I shall give this letter to you when you’re with me so you know how I lived my days until having you for real.
She put down the pen, swallowed a couple of sleeping pills and went back to sleep.
Ayman woke up from sleep in cold sweat. He rarely remembered is dreams. Not this dream. There was a young girl. What was it she whispered in his right ear? Something about marriage…or family. Zeina was there. They were talking and the little girl was watching. Then she hugged Zeina.
Darn! He wished he would remember the dream more clearly. This is also why he sometimes hated dreams. He felt very emotional afterwards at times. He who had always been in control.
He thought of her. Zeina. His Zeina. He couldn’t recall how things had ended between them…or who said what to whom. He remembered her smile, kindness and the way she used to look at him. He recalled the way the sun glazed her face and hair with a golden hue. For some unknown reason, she seemed the only woman on earth who had ever understood him and let him be who he wanted to be. How blind he had been!
Why did they drift apart? Who would let go of something so rare, so precious like that? He wondered where she would be now. She might even be with someone else.
He smiled to himself. They had to be together again. It was pure…
-- To be continued...
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