Molded in a red velvet dress, she leaned against the door by the entryway leading to the cafeteria. Her face buried in a book, she was totally oblivious to the noisy world around her and completely unaware of my presence approaching. Her friends were there, too. On the couch oblique from the bookstore, gossiping, were Egretta, Arianne, Martine and Jean-Robert. Their marbled, shiny eyes widened as they saw me stroll towards Elodie. They waved and I reciprocated with a timid grin.
Few paces away from Elodie, my lips suddenly numbed, and my feet turned cold, anchored to the ground. My heart raced in mounting anxiety. But, she was still there, burying her golden cheeks, her grayish feline eyes in what seemed to be an intriguing story. I glanced across the gigantic room, and I saw no one, all of a sudden. The many students going in and around, buying lunches, in a blur, were nowhere in sight. Her friends on the couch had simply morphed into a purple mist.
Completely paralyzed by spook, there, I stood, unable to utter a word. She then closed her book, facing the courtyard. Her back was turned on me. She walked across the room and made her way to the exit door. I resurrected the last vestige of energy still remaining in my crippled body. I followed her through the exit door, trailing the regal motion of her steps. Her long stresses floated in the afternoon breeze when she passed by the coconut palms.
I was just a pace behind, but she quickened her steps. An avalanche of tears welled down my cheeks, and I began to send shrieks of wails in our universe of silence. My wailing had caught up with her, and she turned around, arms outstretched, while her book dropped face down—the pages sprawled like a dead bird. In stupefaction, we leaped into each others’ arms, interlacing under the silky caress of the wind.
Though a quadroon mulâtresse, her African lineage was impossible to overlook when she threw her joyous laughter. Our fingers intertwined, I freed myself from her embrace, leaving a few inches of space between us. I surveyed Elodie from head to toes. Her flawless feature was still the same, erect, toned and curvy. “I waited 20 years by the post, and I wouldn’t mind waiting for another 20. I love you more than I can say,” she muttered, peering into my big black eyes, seeking assurances.
I was torn entre l’imaginaire et le réel. “I searched the world, searching everywhere, until my search turned cold. I’m afraid it’s too late,” I muttered, gazing upon the sky, unable to face her capricious smile.
Her eyes turned moist and watery, and she leaned on my chest, desperately lurching for the elusive comfort she may have missed over the last 20 years. “We may never see again, but before fading once more out of my radar screen, show me how to live without you.”
“Chérie, you’ve done it for two decades, and you seem fine. I aged, not you.”
It was too much to bear. Her lacerating cry brought me back to reality, and I bolted awake. It was just a dream.
Dr. Ardain Isma is editor-in-chief of CSMS Magazine. He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of North Florida (UNF). He is a scholar as well as a novelist. He may be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org