He saw her in the dream. She was darkness, a shadow, always a willowy wisp of negative light. But she was a siren, in any case, calling to him.
Sometimes he thought he remembered her from somewhere. He felt, even in that dreamlike sleep that sharp, strange, niggling feeling you get when a memory is on the edge of emerging, but where it never emerges, never at all. Leaving you bereft and frustrated, tantalised by something you know is so important but which is just out of reach.
Just as she was out of reach. Always. No matter what convoluted stairways he traversed, what harsh grounds, what strange buildings, what barren wastes. She flickered, in the corner of the eye, or so far ahead even calling out would rob his voice on the wind and she would not hear.
Over time this quest became more than any in his waking life. He withdrew from daily affairs, trying meditation as well as sleep, trying to call this elusive woman and even more evasive memory to him.
He lost his job because he never went to work. He didn’t care. Friends eventually stopped calling when he never replied. He didn’t care. Even his family seemed to accept he was missing in action and withdrew. He didn’t care.
He went to doctors to get sleeping pills and tonics – many doctors because none would prescribe the quantities as regularly as he required. He went from eight hours sleep a night to twelve, and three hours in mediation. Then this increased and increased.
And she seemed to reward him by coming closer, coming closer. He could almost see her face now, almost recognise her, but not quite. He knew more drastic measures were required.
There is a drug, he learned, that effectively creates a comatose state. If he could take enough of this, enough for enough time, he could reach her. It was possible it might kill him, or trap him forever in this twilight world. He didn’t care. Indeed, that might be exactly what he craved.
They found him, weeks and weeks later as he was now such a hermit, so withdrawn from everyone. Dead from malnourishment and lack of water.
But they’d never really find ‘him’. He’s just a shadow now, in a shadow world, still chasing his shadow ghost woman, but happier for all that. Because now, as a shadow, he might actually win.
And the woman, and her memory, will be his.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2016