What would you do for love?, How far would you go and what would you sacrifice?. The easy answer is 'everything'. Before you rush in with a grand sweeping statement, take a moment to hear my story. Once you have heard what I have to say, I wonder if your answer will change....
I met the woman of my dreams literally whilst I was sleeping. When I woke up the following morning I could not remember the dream, but a feeling of loss. It was a feeling I could not shake, it was tangible and felt all to real. Something special had happened to me and I wanted to be back, snugly wrapped in that dream. The only problem, the more I tried to remember the further away from me it got. It was like trying to grab hold of mist that kept swirling away from me.
I was wide awake and had to get ready for work. My morning routine was hurried and soon I headed out the door. Something was different though, I felt different more alive than I had in years. As much as I had felt loss earlier, I now felt hope and excitement. Anything was possible, the day flew by, my new positive attitude making me more productive than I been in a long while. I was glad when it came time to go home and even more pleased when I was finally able to go to sleep.
Against all odds I found her again and this time I awoke with a name on my lips 'Alice'. The rest of the details were sketchy but I had a name. That had made it all the more real to me. I don't know how but I made it through another day. I was in a buoyant mood and nothing could bring me down. Getting home after work and realised I was so excited that sleep was not likely to come easily. I dusted of my weights and worked out until I was exhausted. It was going to be worth the pain to see Alice again. Her name filled me with warmth and provided me with a sense of peace. To me she was harmony, a quiet port in the storm. I showered and got ready for bed. Setting my alarm I closed my eyes, it seemed immediately that my alarm went off.
I awoke feeling disappointment. I knew I had seen her again, the only thing still distinct was her name. 'Alice' echoed through my mind and left me wanting more. I sat up in bed and groaned as my body protested. I really had overdone it on the exercise front. I would love to say I rather manly pushed on through the pain but that was not quite how it went. The whole day was spent letting all and sundry know the pain was from working out. Finally the day finished and I was home once more. There was no way I was going to exercise again, to be honest I did not need to. Feeling naturally tired, it was not long after eating my dinner and I was off to bed again.
This time I seemed to stay in my dream state longer and oh what a dream it was. Alice was there, I was hopelessly smitten with this woman of my dreams. When my alarm had dragged me cruelly from my slumber, I had clear picture in my mind of Alice. I could see her wavy brown hair, cascading down to her shoulders. Her eyes such a deep shade of hazel, they seem to invite you in with their warmth. Alice’s' full mouth and ready smile, the way she slightly cocks her head to one side when listening to me. I know its insane, but to me she was more real than any girl I had ever met in this waking world of ours. I still could not recall everything, but I took heart from the clear picture of her. It seemed that each night I was able to remember more and with greater clarity.
Finally it was Friday and the weekend beckoned. The thought of not having to set my alarm that got me through the day. I finished work and after going out for a couple of drinks, I made my excuses and headed home. I was not home for long when I felt the pull on my eyelids and with no little excitement I went up to bed. My eyes closed.
I was in a Café, sitting in the window, sipping at my coffee and watching the world go by. I was in a world of my own until I had noticed a goddess walking down the street. Wrapped up in a big coat and scarf, her hands stuffed deep into her pockets. Each breath creating a small cloud of vapour as her warm breath hit the cold air. She was walking fast. No one would want to be outside any longer than they needed to be. I had watched her as she approached the café and found myself wishing she would turn in.
The door opened with the tinkling of a bell. She stepped over the threshold before walking down the aisle. Alice reached the end of her pew, made the sign of the cross, then took her seat. The vicar began the sermon, building up, to a fantastic solo dance routine. The dance floor in the nightclub began to fill up. I saw her the other side of the room laughing and talking to a friend.
I plucked up the courage and walked towards her. The music was loud, I could feel the beat, vibrating through my bones. People were whirling around me faster and faster. A blur of colours causing me to lose sight of her. I spun around. There, just in the corner of my eye, I caught sight of her again. I started off, finally finding myself standing in front of her.
Struggling with what to say. I was acutely aware that we were now alone and it was very quiet. We were standing underneath a solitary street lamp, set in a dark barren void. The light it cast was warming and provided a sense of security. I was half expecting an echo, when I had finally plucked up the nerve to speak. Other than the slightly higher pitch to my voice, due to nerves, there was nothing. The words, once started, did not want to stop.
My voice had returned to normal but I could not control the speed. I blurted out information about myself to her. It was like I was trying to upload information and only had seconds with which to do it. Finally I was spent, I had given her the story of my whole life, not just the good bits. I thought that's it, what have you done?. Then suddenly Alice started to speak too.
Her face showed confusion as she started to speak faster and faster too. It was surreal, I knew she was speaking so fast, I should not be able to make any sense. Each word was heard and I understood everything so clearly. Before I knew it, Alice had finished her life story as well. We stood there, in this barren void, bathed in a warm and secure light. Both of us a little startled, felt the need for physical contact. I guess we were looking for something normal, in this abnormal place.
As my hand reached out, so did hers. The contact was electric and it kick started my heart. I felt that I had always been incomplete, that there was something important missing. Here in this moment, in this place, I was made whole. Looking from our joined hands, up to her beautiful hazel eyes, I registered surprise and happiness on her face. I was sure she could see the same mirrored on mine.
There was so much I wanted to say, I was not sure were to start, I opened my mouth but nothing came out. I had tried again but found I was mute. I did not understand what was happening. I was standing here, in front of my soul mate, after we had been bought together, by some unseen force. Now I was being hindered. To make matters worse, I could feel her slipping away. Ever so slowly, the distance between us was increasing.
I felt her grip my hand tighter. I did the same to hers, taking comfort in that simple gesture, like me she did not want to lose this moment. Before long, our arms were fully stretched out, our fingers, sliding across the palm of each others hands. Only the tips of our fingers were then touching, the only contact we had left. Even that was short lived, we were pulled apart.
The light went out, there was only blackness. No longer whole, there was a gaping cavern inside me. It had always been there, now though, it felt raw. I knew there was no medicine on earth, that could soothe this agony. I could not breathe, this pain was unbearable, in one gasping sob I awoke. I could feel the tears, streaming down my face. I had curled myself into a protective ball and let the emotion pour from me. I am not sure how long I lay there, only that the pillow was dry, when I climbed from my bed.
I went to the shower and hoped, the steaming water, would wash away the pain. I had felt numb, standing under that torrent of water. Wishing my pain away, it was not to be, finally I turned the water off. I was in a daze, the rest of the day a blur. I could not really remember much. I have a vague recollection of eating something, but could not tell you what it was. I had sat staring into space, until finally, I must have drifted off again.
This time, my dreams whirled past at dizzying speeds, as I searched everywhere for her. I swam oceans, I climbed mountains, I waged wars for her freedom, but never could I find her. I had awoken feeling bone weary. Checking the time, it was too early be awake. But suddenly I was wide awake, I had sat bolt upright in shock. This could not be!, I leapt from bed. Ignoring very real aches and pains, that confirmed I had not had a peaceful rest. I turned the television on and flicked through the channels, until I found a 24 hour news channel. There it was, staring me in the face, my legs gave way and I collapsed on the floor.
I had been asleep for three days, how was that possible and what did it mean?. I became acutely aware of my thirst, I staggered to the kitchen and ran the tap. I was so thirsty that I just tilted my head to to water and drank my fill. Once sated, I rooted around the cupboard and found something to eat. Chocolate biscuits, not the best thing for me, at this point the least of my worries. I tried to take stock. I had missed work, and lost so much time, it really scared me. What was happening to me, was I going crazy? These thoughts, went round and round in my brain, till finally I was able to call the doctors.
Appointment booked I felt a little calmer. With that, I phoned work and apologised for not being in. I explained I had booked an appointment with my doctor and would call again, after I had seen them. My boss was actually very understanding, once he had got past the telling me off, for not phoning sooner. I finally felt I was getting some control back in my life. Sitting there waiting till I had to leave, I thought back, over what had happened. I wondered how it would seem to people on the outside looking in.
When my thoughts touched on Alice, I felt panic flutter in my chest and I hoped she was okay. Why couldn't I find her? was she safe?. I had been through such a whirlwind of emotions and feelings. My own sanity was in doubt, I did not for one moment think that she was not real.
Finally I got on the bus to take me into town, a pretty uneventful trip. Just the act of catching a bus had seemed to calm me further, what can be more normal than taking a bus into town?. I made it to the surgery with plenty of time, as usual I was kept waiting for twenty minutes. Forced to sit next a young mother, her two toddlers who viewed me as a climbing frame half the time. the other half they spent screaming at each other. Their mum looked wearily on. I have never seen anyone look so tired and resigned, I tried to start a conversation, she just looked at me, then away again.
Finally I was called and made my way to the office, knocking before I entered. The doctor invited me to take a seat, suddenly I felt very nervous, was I about to be locked up?. I told the doctor that I had been asleep for three days. Nothing to do with Alice, he ran some tests, telling me my blood pressure seemed high. He could find nothing else wrong. I was told he would arrange a specialist referral, this was the first case of this type he had seen. I was not sure what a specialist would be able to do but I left the office feeling better. Maybe there was something medical wrong with me and it was not my mind?.
I sat on the bus thinking it all through and got to wondering were Alice had gone. I pictured her in my mind, I could not seem to banish the look of worry and torment on her face, oh how I missed her smile. I almost went past my stop whilst day dreaming of her. I took a detour to the shops to restock the fridge and get some dinner. I had felt the need to cook a proper dinner, it seemed like something normal and right. When I had gotten home, I took some time to tidy up. A whiz around with the vacuum, then the ironing, whilst singing to the radio and I was ready to cook up a storm. Dinner was washed down with a nice cold beer, followed with another.
I had a mellow buzz as I sat on the sofa, the radio was still playing its music in the background and I closed my eyes to relax. Sleep came over me so slowly, I did not realise what was happening, one minute I was on the Sofa and then I was standing in pitch black. There was no sound when I clapped my hand, although I could feel the impact. I stood still for a while but with nothing happening. I took a step forward. Edging my foot forward slowly at first, hands up in front. There really was nothing there. I took another step and then another, my confidence grew, soon I was walking normally.
I was was not sure where I was heading, it felt better to be moving, so I carried on. Time had no meaning here, I felt no fatigue but the constant silence, coupled with the pitch darkness, started to take its toll on me. Why was I here?, What was the meaning of this?, Was Alice here?, If so how could I find her in this place?. I started to panic and felt claustrophobic, I had to get out of here, my heart was pounding, my breathing coming in ragged gasps. I launched into a head long run, my feet pounding the ground, I had to make it out!. Faster and faster I ran, till I was almost flying. My feet got tangled, I went down and found myself standing there, in the pitch black.
I went to my knees and my head fell down to my chest. I felt so defeated, how could I get out of this place? Where was Alice?. I stayed like that for what had felt like hours, something began to change. Where there was despair, it was slowly replaced with anger, which burnt into a white hot rage. I screamed it out but rather than sound, light poured out of me, until I could scream no more.
I was stood in a hall, on each wall was a closed door, next to me a sign post, pointing to each of them. The sign post said 'Alice' on each prong and was slowly spinning around. I decided enough was enough, picking the door opposite, I strode across the open space. Opening the door, I stepped through and was in a prison visiting room. I was sat on the wrong side of the glass, in my prison fatigues, my hand holding the phone to my ear. Alice looked just as I remembered and took my breath away, suddenly everything was worth it, I opened my mouth to speak. She silenced me by raising her finger to her lips, I stopped waiting for her to say something. She didn't say a word, just sat there looking at me. I was unsure what to do but raised a hand to the glass.
I was pleased when she mirrored me. I could imagine the warmth of her palm against mine as we sat looking at each other. This seemed to be our lot, forever destined to know, that the other was there, but never able to truly be together. I hung up the phone, never letting my other hand leave the glass, finally content that I had found her again. I knew now, that I would always find her, even if the challenges seemed insurmountable.We would be together and we would be happy. Her smile suggested she could read my mind, I had felt like I could lose myself forever in its brilliance, the shape of her mouth, making me wish I could kiss her lips.
Pain tugging at my hand, not agonising, but uncomfortable, caused me to look away. I could see nothing wrong, but it was there, not as sharp as before. A definite feeling lingered on the top of my right hand, just below my wrist. Everything flickered, I looked back to Alice, but I knew she was gone. The sensation came again in my hand and felt more insistent. It was getting harder to ignore, as I focused on it more, the room got darker and and darker, until again it was pitch black. I lost sense of who I was and just dreamed.
I awoke to garish strip lights blazing in the hospital, causing me to squint and raise my hand to my eyes. The reflex action caused my hand to sting, as the canular in the back of my hand pulled tight. I took in my surroundings. I was on a hospital ward, with eight beds, four each side. Other than mine, it looked like only two others were taken. The occupiers of these, both seemed to be in their eighties and fast asleep. I must have made some sound, as suddenly there was a nurse at my bedside, checking my eyes and pulse.
I tried to ask her what had happened, all that came out was a dry croak. It felt like I had not spoken in some time. She got a glass of water for me and cautioned me to take small sips. I took the advice, although I wanted to drain the cup, in one big gulp. I tried again and managed to ask the question. The answer was shocking to me, I tried to sit up and had realised how weak I was. Could it be true, had I been here six weeks? What the hell had happened?.
The nurse explained, I had been found unresponsive at home, by the police, when they were alerted by my boss. They had been worried when I did not show up for work and had tried knocking on my door, to no avail. Calling the police had probably saved my life, I felt grateful, I had people who cared enough to do that for me. Although I had been unresponsive, the nurses had managed to rouse me enough at meal times to eat, although they had to feed me, as I was not able to do it myself.
All of the tests and scans seemed to suggest I was in a deep sleep, there was nothing else wrong with me, no tumours, growths or Cancers. I was something of a celebrity in the medical world, I even had someone writing a paper on me. I was overwhelmed by it all and started to feel tired. This was very strange, considering the sleep I had just had.
I no longer felt part of this world, I wanted the happiness that I had found with Alice. I realised if I wanted her, this world would be my sacrifice. So I let the sleep take me, as I went under I am pretty sure I was smiling. I could not begin to describe the trials of pain and heartache I went through to find Alice, the countless times she was ripped away from me, my endless search for her.
Only when she was near did I feel any peace, we never spoke a word, that always seemed to cause me to lose her again. There was always a connection we shared, when looking in each others eyes. The feeling of belonging, of knowing that she was my everything, knowing she felt the same, was a drug to me, one I could never give up. I used to laugh at films that told of love and what people would do for it. Me? I had given up life for mine and I would do it all over again.
I found myself wandering in a desert, looking and searching for Alice. I knew I would find her, I always did, but I was so thirsty. My mouth was so dry and thoughts of water kept straying across my mind. There was nothing on the horizon in any direction, except more dunes. I got to the top of my current one and licked my cracked lips, It made no difference. I stumbled as I started down the other side, the world rushed up to meet me, I had the strange feeling of vertigo you get when you fall in a dream. This coupled with a metallic crash, caused me to start awake in a room.
It was early evening and getting dark. I was sitting in a chair by the window over looking a garden, that had been well tended. The garden was nice but I was drawn to the mess on the floor. It consisted of a metal tray, a broken glass, a small pool of water and an overturned small plastic cup. The contents which it had spilt were tablets, these were slowly dissolving. Beyond this mess there were sensible black shoes, perfect for wearing on a long shift at work. Wearing dark tights and a white nurses uniform was Alice. She was stood there looking so beautiful, her face showed the shock of seeing me.
Alice stepped forward, reaching out as if to touch me and see if I was real. I tried to stand but felt so weak, all I could do was reach out my arm to meet her. I was shocked at how skinny and pale it looked. How long had I been here and like this?, her fingers touched mine and I knew. I had come home.