A SHORT STORY
By Nada Ahmed
“As dreams ever linger through our wake
Shall we compare between true and fake?
Or let the worlds, in holy matrimony, collide?”
If my dreams were meant to manifest anything, it would be my pressing desire for my soul to be lost. They were getting weirder every night, taking me places I had never been.
In these dreams my soul floated and wandered every inch of a place; there were cities, roads, buildings, seas and mountains.
And when I woke up, the connection remained.
The fires inside woke me to a morning haze following a long cold winter’s night. The clouds hung below the sun and deprived my body of the light it had long craved, the touch of warmth and love to my dry and raring skin.
I dreamed of a place that night, a place where my soul found an end to its suffering. Where my demons found peace and where I found another soul hungry for human connection.
He was there, holding my hand.
We stood in a small square breathing in what seemed like a spring morning breeze. It hit our lungs with a sense of utter delicacy, so much that our bodies shook and our interlocked hands gripped tighter.
Our senses were aglow, our desire to explore was as blatant as our desire to touch one another.
It was quiet around us and the coffee shops lined on the right side of the square were completely empty. All the tables outside carried freshly- served breakfasts and coffees, but no one was there to be served.
Flowers marked every pavement in glaring colors. Tiny apartments in one-story buildings had their balconies covered in plants and festive adornments.
This seemed like a place where we’d want to live.
We didn’t want to leave.
We just stood there, holding hands, and looking around us in stun and joy.
I woke up to the sound of heavy rain falling on my window pane. My eyes opened slowly in disbelief. “Am I still dreaming?” I wondered as a cold exhale carved its way out of my lungs.
My eyes, now fully opened, searched around trying to remember where I was. “Still in my room,” I muttered in disappointment.
But a fuzz over my head lingered all day long; it was as if the place did exist. I could clearly remember every detail as if I was there for real, as if he was with me for real.
The fuzziness lasted for days and only began to fade away after a week, but my mind refused to let go.
like an ocean dream,
I dreamed of love that could lull the fires burning inside of me.
“Will I ever be loved for who I am?” I asked her in a faint voice.
The blood moon outside my window shone relentlessly of ardor and fury. She never answered me… or did she? Because the doubts in my head were always loud enough to deny me a chance of being heard.
I kept asking anyway.
I waited every night for an answer to what made people think they could just take and leave.
Sex is something, but love is everything. I wanted to be loved for what my soul had to offer.
I was fire. I was as ardent and furious as the blood moon. But no one had ever dug deep enough to make peace with my demons.
Even my demons needed to be loved.
The first light broke through my window while I lied on my bedroom floor—still wide awake—staring at the ceiling and thinking what a tormented soul like mine would be doing to end its suffering.
I dreamed of death, but I knew our souls would always return to suffer all over again. Then I thought of the company of another tormented soul; “would it be suffering the same? Would it be yearning the same?”
“Would both our souls hunger for a human connection that is beyond all mundane needs?”
I wished I could lose my soul like I did in that dream, with someone who didn’t demand much, and didn’t expect much.
I dreamed of being as undemanding.
Flashbacks of the dream kept coming to me.
Square. Scents. Breakfast. Flowers. No people. Him.
The daylight—filling the room now—penetrated through the holes between my eyelids. They finally surrendered and opened to partial blur. I could see someone lying on the bedroom floor, completely naked.
Slowly but surely the blur softened, yet my eagerness to unravel what was before my eyes built up in me. I tried to move but there was no control over my body.
In fact, I had no body.
Something from within floated above my body on the floor, something light and unleashed. Something that had no control over itself or its surroundings, and didn’t intend to. An observer of my world. A freer me.
It told me it was my soul.
It hung around the body for a brief moment. It looked with a pure intention to only look, and never judge. This was something it had longed for, to be on the outside of myself.
Suddenly, yellow rays pierced through my skin and spurted toward the sky. Endless pillars of sunlight extended to connect me to the unknown, or to someone I was yet to meet.
“Is that death? Is that what happens after death? It must be. There’s no other explanation.”
I didn’t know. And I didn’t wonder much before the soul began to ascend.
I felt it moving further away from my body, until all it could see was floating clouds and deep black voids.
“I must be dead now.”
But how could death be so tranquil and peaceful? How could the end of life be what we had been searching for? Peace, reassurance, freedom?
How could what we feared all our life be the one thing we’d yearned for the most? Death… it seemed like a serene dream, an amicable analog to a new beginning.
My eyes opened again, to blinding whiteness this time. An eerie cold breeze snuck into the pores of my naked body—and though shaking, it stood tall knowing it would all end soon.
As the whiteness waned, peculiar objects shaped and distorted before me. A translucent, white veil emerged from the clouds in formation beneath.
I could tell something else was forming behind it, something invisible to the eyes but visible to the soul.
I felt the presence getting stronger. Something behind that veil lurked in silence and observation.
“Do you love yourself enough?” it asked me. Its voice loud and clear.
My soul hovered closer to the veil, trying to see through it. Deep white voids were all I could find there.
Deep white void I felt strongly connected to.
“Will you love yourself enough?” It asked again. I didn’t feel obligated to answer.
Deep black voids.
The scene of my bare body on the bedroom floor unraveled. My soul was still floating, looking down at it in high regard and admiration. It was as if it’d missed being in it.
That body I took for granted all my life.
The bearer of the soul. The portal to my physical being. The vessel of blood and flesh holding the weight of my mundane burdens and ill-natured judgments.
A smile spread on my face as my body floated, too. Soft waves carried it lightly to the deep ocean where it collided with the soul.
Immersed in peacefulness and serenity, I opened my eyes to the sunlight and my fingertips reached out to touch the skin of my thighs. It was all there, warm and tender, as always.
“Will you love yourself enough?” It echoed in my ears as a reminder to why I was there.
“Yes,” I answered as I let love flow inside me, in waves.