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Nocturnal Journal #10
Fiction & Poetry Newsletter by Ecem Yucel
Her biggest fear
was getting shot
by an unknown person
in a car, at night
while she rested on her balcony
or peered through the window.
Though her eyes examined
all the cars that passed by,
she wouldn’t retreat
to the safety of her house.
The only way of death
she dreaded was this,
a nightmare since
without knowing why.
Longing for a Dream
“Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music: —Do I wake or sleep?” - John Keats
I am in a black cocktail dress at a big garden party. The sun is too bright, the brightest I’ve ever seen, shining on the garden that is big and lovely as the gardens of Versailles, and a crowd of people in their chic, party dresses, with cocktails in their hands.
I part from my partner to search for a restroom. I walk around before I arrive at the huge glass doors of a highly luxurious restaurant. When I walk in, I see my reflection in a big mirror hung on the entrance wall. It’s a bit curious since it’s my younger self in that beautiful and expensive-looking dress. My hair is in its natural color, my face hasn’t lost its baby innocence yet. I’m thinner, and the makeup I have on looks unnecessary. Still, while the questions about being younger are promptly swept into some dark corner of my mind, I like how I look. I smile at my reflection before I turn away to search for the restroom.
After taking a few steps in my stilettos on a thick, heavy carpet, he passes by me in a tux, carrying a silver serving tray. I freeze, not believing what I’ve just seen, then call his name.
He turns to look at me. His eyes recognize me like it is a nice surprise and nothing more. “Hey,” he says, stepping closer, “what are you doing here?”
I grab his shoulders, pull him to me, and hug him tightly. I can feel the texture of the fabric of his tuxedo jacket under my hands and cheek as his warm breath licks my naked shoulder. It’s real.
He laughs and says my name. I realize how much I’ve missed hearing my name from him. Just like the old times, he rolls my name on his tongue as if he tastes it.
“What are you doing?” he says, amused. “You can get me in trouble if you keep hugging me like this. I’m supposed to be working.”
I draw back and examine his face. “It’s really you,” I say. He’s right here, in my arms, young and strong like the day I fell for him. He hasn’t lost his hair due to his bad life choices nor his shoulders have fallen under the weight of the world. His eyes aren’t sunken either, they sparkle mischievously as I know so well. And he is so handsome in his tuxedo that my heart skips a beat.
The only difference is, he has a speck of green in his right eye, whereas his eyes are normally completely brown.
“Of course, it’s me, what are you talking about?” he says, and I hug him again. “I don’t understand why you’re acting like this,” he adds, his mouth right next to my ear, as his arms give up and hug me back.
My emotions stir. The warmth of his body, touching mine, wakes that familiar passion inside me, which has been sleeping for years now, and it mixes into the bleak sadness I’ve been carrying during those same years. It’s a weird thing to feel; I can’t decide which one outweighs the other.
I draw back again, feeling misty, though it seems so out of place now since I stand right by the big glass doors of a luxurious restaurant, him in my arms, the sun shining through the doors and illuminating us. I can feel his pulse under my hand on his neck, see every detail of his face, count his tiny freckles even. It’s real, he’s here with me, and it’s marvelously obvious now that everything has been a big, bad joke. That I’m silly to feel like crying over a joke.
“They told me you were dead,” I say with a low, trembling voice. A tear escapes from the corner of my eye and traces down my cheek.
“Who told you that?” he asks but he doesn’t wait for an answer, as if the thought itself is so silly it’s a waste of seconds to entertain it. “I’m not dead,” he says, wiping the escapee tear with his thumb, “I’m here.”
“But they said you were, and I’ve been grieving for years now,” I say.
“No, baby, I’m not dead,” he says and brings my hand to his mouth to kiss it. I feel his lips on it, soft and warm. Something melts inside me. He smiles without a care in the world and winks.
“I was never dead, believe me. And don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere without you.”
I wince at the thought, and in a split second, I try to convince myself of what he has said was an attempt to console me because he’s never been dead — not because he’s come to take me with him too. He’s alive. I feel the relief of years.
I hug him again and brush my lips on his. He smiles at me, and just like that, I’m happy again.
Over his shoulder, I see my partner walking closer, looking for me. “Let’s go somewhere else so we can be alone,” I say to him, grabbing his hand. We go out in the bright sun, quickly walk away in the opposite direction. We go around the building, seeking a secluded place like we used to do when we were young and wanted to make out. I need to hear the story from him; I need him to come up with logical explanations and demolish all misunderstandings I’ve been carrying over the years. I need him to smile at me mischievously and say I am so gullible to think he could leave this world that early.
I need him to be not dead.
“Here’s good,” I say, and turn to look at him. But he’s not there. His hand isn’t in my hand anymore. He has gone. Vanished in the thin air.
As my heart sinks down, I open my eyes.
It’s dawn and I’ve just woken up. Frustration binds my tongue that I can’t even swear.
Realizing he’s still dead in this world is the worst.
Growing up, my mother used to say if I see a dead person in my dream, that means he or she had wanted to see me and visited me while I was sleeping.
While making some instant coffee in the early hours of the morning, I want to believe her words. Because then, I think, as I pour some milk into my coffee and stir the colors of black and white until they turn into a tone of brown to my liking, it’d mean he also misses me and has just come to see me.
Halfway through my mug, looking at the warm, brown liquid in it, I suddenly remember a half-dark tunnel with him inside. Then, it all comes back to me, that I saw him in my dream once before, a year ago or so.
He met me in a tunnel, young as the day we kissed for the first time, irresistible. He took me in his arms and I couldn’t talk at first.
“You’re alive,” I said. “Of course, I am,” he said, then laughed.
“But they told me…you were dead.”
“I’m not dead. Who told you that?” he asked.
“Your brother,” I replied.
“Oh, he’s just being silly.”
“But I’ve been grieving,” I said, my eyes welling up.
“I’m not dead baby, don’t cry,” he said. “Can’t you feel me touching you?” he asked as he kissed my tears. Then his lips found mine, and we kissed in that half-dark tunnel. I felt his hand tracing my naked leg toward the hem of my skirt. Once again, he lit that passion in me. It felt real. It was real.
Until I woke up.
It rains outside. As I watch the raindrops throwing themselves angrily on my window, I think about the pattern of these dreams. It’s always the same. I see him, alive, and we quickly end up in each other’s arms. I feel like crying at first, telling him he should be dead, and he always convinces me he’s not. He always acts like him being dead is the most ridiculous idea.
Still, the places I see him in change; first a half-dark tunnel, then a sunny and luxurious place. I don’t know if this means he’s now moved to a better place and happy without a care, and this is his way of showing it.
Maybe he doesn’t know he’s dead or maybe it’s all he can do to console me. By granting me a nanosecond that feels like long minutes in a dream, he gifts me a miracle moment of kissing, hugging, feeling each other in the simplest sense, sharing the joy of being together, rekindling that old passion.
Maybe one day, he’ll visit me once more, and this time he won’t vanish, I think to myself, as I watch the stray tree leaves swaying in the air with the strong wind outside my window. Maybe this time, we’ll be together more than a few minutes, enough for him to erase the longing in me for good.
Maybe this time, if I’m lucky, I won’t wake up.
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If you’d like to read more poetry from me, please check out my new poetry book ‘The Anguish of an Oyster’ here.
You can also check my website for more information.