It's a quiet dream, a nightmare dream, and sometimes I wonder if that's all I have left. The dreaming. I hardly remember the waking times, the reality. It's only dreams. Dreams of despair. These are all I can keep to me. I dream of a thousand cries of madness, of the pain of a single soul.. of a fire blazing high and my howls as I am caught within, submitting to the intensity of the flames.
And when I do wake, so briefly, he is there. My Nazarene. My glorious king. And I feel his hand, so gentle, caressing my forehead, wiping away the sweat that trickles like tears across my face. And I hear his breathing, the only thing real to me; his sweet breath tickling my neck, as he kisses me.
And beneath his caress I can sink back, into sleep, soothed for just a few moments, just long enough to hold onto my sanity, before I am immersed once more in my dreams of horror. I am floating.. I am lost. There is nothing here but blackness, darkness. A cold, clammy touch against my back. A laugh cruel enough to freeze me where I stand. My fighting, my clawing, any way to break free, to be able to see again, to sense again, to know I am not blinded and alone.
I wake, gasping. Has it been minutes? Hours? Days? Eternity could come and go again and I would not know it. This place is always the same. Dim and warm. Comforting. Cloying. And always there is his presence. His hand upon mine. His reassuring lips, making love to my skin. The ghostly, dark shadow that is him, always leaning over me, watching me. When I sleep, he watches over me. Like a guardian angel.
Sleep is my place. My purpose in life. I am the Chosen. A Dreamer. So I return, once again, and I suffer. I submit to the agony of a hundred wild claws, barbed and tearing, pulling my flesh to pieces as I can only stand and stare. As I can not even scream, for they have torn my throat apart.
I cry out, as I wake, and Nazarene presses his lips to mine, shushing me. I give in, for his kiss is like heaven; like fresh air for one so starved as I am. I can almost see his eyes, so close to me as he is. But in this dimness they are still shadowed, as mine must also be. And I wonder, as I am forbidden to wonder, why he is here. Why he stays by my side for this eternity.
I cannot resist. I cannot protest. This is what I am meant to do. My honour. The dreams pull me back, caressing, a slick caress of hollow promises, and I am alone. Abandoned. Forgotten. Nothing exists but me. I wander a lifeless landscape, of crumbling buildings and empty streets, a place I have never seen. And listen to the wind as it shrills, mocking me. As it echoes back at me, asking me, "Where's your Nazarene? Where's your saviour?" But he is not there. I am alone!
My own mindless screaming wakes me. Nazarene, he is there, holding me, and I grab for him, clutching him to my chest, listening to his breath, his heartbeat; knowing that he is real. He exists. He saves me. But how? But why? I pull him close to my face, staring. Tasting his breath. Gazing at his shadowed eyes. Needing, desperately, to ask. To know. But I have not the knowledge how. Do I?
Back, always I am drawn back. This is where I belong. I exist to suffer. To bear the burden of a thousand sorrows; to ease the pain of all the rest. This numbing depression that takes over me, locked in a room of darkness, alone and unable to do anything but curl up, wracked with sobs, and crying as I beg of my tormentors, my torturers.. "Why? What have I done?" I pound the wall, my fists bleeding, and I beat my head against it, feeling the agony of breaking bones.
I touch my own face as I wake, a reassurance of its continued, unblemished existence. Nazarene touches me gently, his fingers pressing against my lips, but his caress is hesitant. Unsure. And I wonder why. Can I ask him? Was that.. speech? A knowledge, a memory? A communication?
The sleep pulls me, but I fight it. "Why, Nazarene? Why?" Is this my voice? This scratched, brittle sound? It almost pains me to hear it. And his face turns away. I hear his breath catch. I feel his fingers sliding away from mine, and I grab them, making him wince. "Tell me," I beg. He reaches for me, clutching my head, grasping it between two strong hands and squeezing, until I cry out.
And I remember. The forbidden, the blessedness of speech. It is unknown. It is forgotten. And it is not allowed.
Where did I find it? How do I have it? What have I done?
Nazarene lets go of my head, and then wraps himself about me, clinging to me, and he whimpers, helpless. My saviour. Am I to damn him? "Nazarene." He is broken, limp in my arms. I lift him, holding him close to me. I listen to his shallow breathing, listening to this emptiness around us. I caress his delicate face, wanting to see it, wanting to know it. Wanting to hear him say my name.. if I knew what it was.
I feel the tendrils, the fog of sleep, whispering to me. A siren's call. I cannot. I will not. No more. This depression, this aggravation.. I will not be its slave again. I rise, wavering to my feet, a battle in itself. I have been here too long. I claw, fighting, trying to find a way out, clutching Nazarene to me as I search for our freedom.
And it comes, an opening, a brightness, a promise of air, a snatch of sound. I run, clinging to my Nazarene, my saviour, running to something, anything, a place for him, a place for me.
I reach it; a bright light catching me, pinning me to the spot, and I drop to my knees, my eyes forced shut by this unforgiving light. I hear an echo, in my mind. The ghost of a whisper. "You are the damned. The blessed. You have broken the shackle. What is your wish?"
"Nazarene," his name falls from me, and I hurriedly add, "Our freedom." For what is having him if I have damned him back to slavery? I hear a laugh.. a laugh I have heard a hundred, a thousand times in my dreams. I want to scream, to run from the laugh of my tormentors.
But the light eases. I open my eyes. "Your wish," echoes the voice, and then I am free. I breath the air. Fresh, pure air. There is light, but not painful light. I can see. There is freedom, there is goodness, there is the promise of hope.
I look down. Nazarene is crumpled in my grasp. My heart strikes fear, and I place him gently down, a soft ground beneath him. I press my face against his chest, listening, and I hear a quiet heartbeat. I feel his breath tickling me.
"Nazarene. Save me," I beg, hoping him to hear, hoping him to understand. And his pale face, that until now I have touched yet never seen, kissed yet never known.. it twists, an expression of fear, and his shadowed eyes open. No longer shadowed. They are bright, brilliant blue. Frightened, alone. His face is thin, his whole body thin, and he cringes, his hands coming up to protect him.
"Nazarene.." I hear a tone in my newly found voice.. a sound of fear? I am afraid. Afraid that without the dreams there is nothing to hold him to me. He has guarded me for so long, but now I no longer need him. Yet I do. I need him.
He stares up at me, and I see a new expression on his face. One of recognition. A shaking hand reaches up, touching my brow, sliding down in a familiar caress, a touch I have felt so many wakings before. Yet now there is no sleep. No waking. No darkness. Just us.
He smiles. It dazzles me, the beauty of it, the simplicity of it, and the hope it blooms inside me. His hand slips behind my head, pulling me down, and he kisses me, slow, gentle, a kiss that speaks only for us, and not for my dreams. And I know.. even in our freedom, he is still my Nazarene. My saviour.