chapter 10

10.

I am alone in our school library late one night. The walls are lined with books, and shadowed portraits of middle-aged men hang on columns between the shelves. The ceilings are vaulted. There is a large window high in the wall at the opposite end of the room, from which moonlight is streaming in.

The big room is eerily still and silent. I am sitting at the end of a long wooden table with hooded green lamps on it. They shine onto the table beneath them, forming circles of light. Aside from the moonlight, all else is dark.

I look down at a book, open to the first page, before me. I can’t make sense of it. Every time I begin to read a sentence, the words scramble and resettle on the page, frustrating me. I am absorbed with the effort of catching a sentence before it changes when a door at the other end of the room opens and closes. I look up, waiting for the person who has entered to emerge from the dark of the room. Eventually I can see a form. Eva coming toward me.

A rush of relief and happiness comes over me. I watch and wait as she glides silently along the table.

Her hair is loose, almost floating in the air, and she has a faint foggy glow hanging about her. At first I cannot make out her expression, but as she approaches I see that she seems serious; her gaze is dark, and rests very intensely on me.

“Eva, I’m so happy to see you. Where have you been?” I ask.

She doesn’t answer. Instead, she comes to a stop silently in front of me, looking down into my upturned face. She heaves a great sigh, her lips parting delicately, her eyes dark, shadowed. Her hair is feather light, seeming to glisten like gossamer around her face. She smiles sadly, her manner, the details of her face, just as they’d been in life. I notice she is wearing her shell ring on her right hand, which is resting at her side.

“What’s wrong? You look sad. Is everything okay?” I ask.

“No, not really okay.” she says. I wait for her to say more. But she is silent, smiling sadly and looking down into my face.

I shift my gaze to her ring. She lifts her hand and gestures to it, smiling sadly, and holds it out to me to look at. I smile and show her that I am wearing mine, too.

“Thank you for coming back,” I say.

Eva touches my cheek, her expression sad, shaking her head no. “I have to go now,” she says resolutely, turning and gliding away into the darkness silently.

Leaving again.

I try to scream “Don’t go!” But nothing will come out. I try again, frustrated, anguished. Again, nothing.

I look down at the book whose words won’t stay still. They scramble again.

Jerking awake and up off my pillow I look around, realize I’m home in bed. My mother’s grandfather clock is chiming downstairs in the living room. My heart is pounding in my chest, my pulse a roar in my ears.

Only a dream.

Eva is gone. It was only a dream.

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