“Better never to have met you in my dream, than to wake and reach for hands that are not there.” — Otomo No Yakamochi

I was sitting on the hard floor, sandwiched in between other sitting bodies. I knew them, yet they were just a sea of bodies and faces. Noises streamed relentlessly: loud music, converstions, laughing. I sat waiting, amid the chaos.

Then I saw you.

It felt like years since I’d last looked in your eyes, heard your voice, made you smile. I’d almost forgotten about you. You’d become a distant memory playing in the recesses of my mind. But a woman can never really neglect her heart. I still remembered.

My waiting, my wanting had to stop. I no longer regarded courage as a stranger, but as a friend. Confidently, I strode over to you. This is it, my mind said. This is it. I knelt down in front of you, turned your face towards mine. I kissed you.

The kiss was warm and soft, but I pulled away too quickly. Nerves had crept up, like vines. I needed to know. And in that trailing moment, I did know. I’d made a mistake. I hadn’t kissed you, I’d kissed your imposter!

Drats! Your imposter, of all things. I see him everywhere; around every corner. Wearing your hat, mimicking your walk. Flaunting your likeness, taunting me. It’s the trickery I can’t stand. Because it’s never really you. Not anymore.

And then I remembered: That’s why I’d almost forgotten. I’d wanted to forget. I’d wanted to lose you, lose a part of myself. Because maybe then you’d just be another face, another body amid the chaos. And it wouldn’t be my fault.
I woke up.