Chapter 9 - Ci-Ci: Another Way

“Fuck,” I sit straight up in bed and wipe the cold sweat from my face. I’ve had the same nightmare at least twice a week since Justin died.

Each time I’m chasing after Justin, but I can’t seem to catch up. Eventually he runs straight off a cliff, and I follow after him. The only problem is his wings shoot forth from his clothing and he just flies effortlessly through the sky. I don’t have wings, and just as my fingertips touch him, I plummet towards the ground. I keep expecting him to catch me, but the dream never changes. I always hit the ground the exact same way and wake up. Tonight, was no different than all the times before.

I walk around my home visiting each room, making sure nothing has changed, and everything is where it needs to be. I know nobody has come in and nothing has moved, but I need to ground myself in reality. My final stop is the kitchen, I take a big drink of ice water before making my way back to bed. I try to find a comfortable position; I settle resting on my back and staring at the ceiling.  

Sleep never comes easy afterwards, I’m sure of my surroundings but I can never get my heart to stop racing. My heart rate is typically around 64 beats a minute, but right now I’m at 82. Most people count sheep to go back to sleep, I count heart beats. Waiting for the moment I can drift back to sleep, hopefully without a dream or nightmare to follow.

“Ci-Ci, you gotta learn to relax,” I hear Justin’s voice next to me.

“This is a new dream,” I turn my head to see him in bed with me.

He’s just as I remember, Ochre skin with low cut black hair, just enough to have little twists. The smile I loved so much and the black bags under his eyes that would randomly appear from time to time. I’m sure if he spread his wings it would be the beautiful olive green they had been when he was living. Dream or no dream, I’m glad to be sharing a bed with him again after all of this time. Even his scent was the same, cocoa butter, he swore he was allergic but I would always catch him dipping into mine. Eventually we had a good laugh about it, but I stopped using it after he died. I couldn’t bare the smell anymore. Just a hint of teakwood rests in the air, my favorite cologne that he would wear. Almost as if he’s here with me, even when I know that can’t be possible.

“You have to stop,” Justin says stroking my hair.

“Stop what?”

“Trying to bring me back.”

“Are you serious?”

“Very,” he stops stroking m hair and cradles my head, I can feel his warmth.

“Why would I do that? You’re my everything.”

“But I shouldn’t be, there’s so much more out there for you to experience. Don’t waste your life chasing after me, I’m already gone.”

“I’m not chasing after you, I’m trying to pull you back,” I move my head away from him. I always hated when he thought he knew best.

“You are chasing me, and trying to bring me back won’t bring you any good. I need you to let it go.”

“It sounds like you don’t want to come back, did you stop loving me?”

“Ci-Ci, I could never stop loving you. But I know a bad idea when I see one.”

“I just miss you so much, I don’t know any other way.”

“Then find another way to survive, you always found a way before, now is no different.”

I feel the warmth and roughness of his dry lips on my forehead, and almost as if it never happened, he was gone. The bed was in perfect condition, and the sound of his breathing that I had loved so much in the past was gone. It was just me in the room alone after the short but sweet time I had spent with him.

Dreams are always messing with our heads. Telling us things we think we want to hear. False symbolism driving us insane with impossibilities and alternate realities. Nightmares haunt us with mistakes we made and things that can’t be real, the primal nature of our fear breaking through to the surface. We’re not slaves to our dreams and nightmares, our star charts or whatever planet is in retrograde. We’re people, I’m a human, the most determined creature on this Earth. We aren’t the smartest, fastest, strongest, most magically inclined, or anything. But what we do have is perseverance and the ability to adapt.  

I make my way to the bookshelf in my living room. Down at a bottom is a small cabinet, Justin used to say this is where people would hide their smut books. We always laughed about it even if we never picked up any erotica. Instead when he died, I locked all of our magic tomes down here. Books that were full of spells and incantations we had read about or used in the past. I locked them down here and tried to forget. But after tonight I realize someone is playing me for a foo. I’ll get Justin back one way or another, and the answer might just be in one of the books here. I’ve got until Halloween, but I’m not intending to take this as long as I can.

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