Last night I dreamed I went to Infinity again. I was wearing a long, blue dress adorned with glitter, and drinking a martini from a coned glass. You were wearing a grey dress, and sipping cider.
How we met was a cliché, but then again, everything here is a cliché, isn’t it? Our eyes met across the room, I went over to talk to you, and the martini ended up going all over your dress. We spent the next half hour in the bathroom, trying to dry you off with the hand dryer.
That night, we walked home together. We exchanged numbers. I wanted to call you the next day, but Gary told me not to. It would look desperate, he said. I should wait three days, he said.
You didn’t wait three days. You called me after work the day after Infinity. It seemed too good to be true, but then again, things here often are, aren’t they?
We went out again that evening. Not to a nightclub; to dinner. You had the fish and I had the steak, and we held hands on the table and drank wine from sophisticated glasses. I kissed you at the end of the night, and you blushed.
When the cab pulled up to your place, I thought that you would invite me in. I wanted you to invite me in, but I think we both knew that it would have been a bad idea.
We said goodnight to each other and that was it, for that night.
We were both busy the next week; I was at work getting hit on by that guy who won’t take the hint, and you were at work as well. We ended up deciding that Tuesday nights would be our night. We would go to a dinner, or a movie, or dinner and a movie. Sometimes we just went to the pub, and I would drink a martini and you would drink a cider, and we would joke that you’d end up half naked in the bathroom again.
Gary said that we were like an old married couple a month into dating.
Anyway, that was how we went for about two years. A date a week, whatever we fancied at the time. It got to the stage where we were no longer going Dutch but alternating who paid.
Eventually, people started asking questions. My mum was constantly looking to my ring finger, and Gary was constantly taking the piss. It made me want to shove my pool cue up his arse. I didn’t though. I would feel too guilty after what happened that other time.
Sorry. I didn’t tell you about that, did I?
Anyway, it only took another year before there finally was a ring. Well, two rings. We each had one the same, but that guy at work still didn’t take the hint. Even when you came in and we flaunted our matching rings while Shelly tried to ply us with cake he still couldn’t work out why I wouldn’t sleep with him. Because of course we were only engaged to each other because we had been so let down by men…
Our wedding was beautiful. My mum wanted to make the decorations, but I didn’t want her to give up any of her time. She spent half of my childhood giving up time for me when she could have been at work. Half of her time at work, half of her time looking after me. She said that she didn’t have to look after me anymore, so that half of her time was empty now; why shouldn’t she make some shitty decorations that we could put on the tables at the reception?
So she went origami mad and covered the tables with little birds and envelopes with openings that looked like hearts that we used as place cards. They were very colourful. We had an after party after the reception, at the Moon Parlour. Gary and I played pool like we always did, and you drank half the place under the table.
We did not have our wedding night that night.
We spent the day after the wedding lying on the sofa with all the curtains drawn, curled up in each other’s arms and groaning. We had our sunglasses on for most of the day, and I was snuggled up in my Pikachu onesie.
What a great first day in our new house.
That night, after much fast food and much sobering up, we finally got our wedding night.
Which carried on most of the day after.
Life settled down after that. Everything went back to pretty much how it had been before. The guy at work still hit on me. You still went off to work every day. The only real difference was that I didn’t see Gary as much, and the things I used to complain to him about, I now complained to you about.
Life couldn’t be better.
But, of course, something had to happen, didn’t it?
It happened one morning. We were still in bed, but you had an earlier morning than I did. You sat up, and that always woke me up no matter how hard you tried to stay quiet. Most of the time I would just pretend to be asleep, so you wouldn’t feel guilty.
That morning you didn’t seem that much bothered about waking me up.
You shook me on the shoulder and got me to sit up. I leant my head against your shoulder because I was still tired, and looked over at the other end of the room. You said you could see something at the end of the bed.
I couldn’t see anything.
I thought you might have been seeing monsters, like a little kid worried about what might be lurking in the closet when the lights went out, but you said that whatever it was, it was beautiful.
The moment didn’t last long, and you eventually said that, whatever it was, it had gone.
Life went on again after that, and it almost got to the stage where I could forget about that little moment first thing in the morning. But, of course, it didn’t stay that way.
Two weeks later, you ‘saw’ something again, this time in our kitchen. I tried to get you to tell me what it was, but you said it was like something that was already there, but better. More beautiful. Like that was how it was supposed to be.
Gary told me I should get you checked out. You said you didn’t need to get checked out; it wasn’t a problem. Well, at least when you were having one of your episodes you said it wasn’t a problem.
I think when you were lucid, the episodes terrified you. As much as you tried to put on a brave face, I could see the fear in your eyes whenever we talked about what was going on.
There was one night, about six months after the first episode, when I woke up in the middle of the night, needing the loo, and I woke up alone in our bed. I went onto the landing, and I heard you in our kitchen, I think, bawling your eyes out. I knew you didn’t want me to hear that, so I went to the loo and went back to bed and pretended to be asleep when you came back up and didn’t say anything about it in the morning. When you asked me why I looked tired, I didn’t say that it was because I had been up all night worried about you: I just lied instead.
A year after the first incident you disappeared for the first time.
It was only for about half a second – a blink and you’ll miss it moment – but I didn’t blink. I saw you flash out of existence for that half-second. That was when I decided that you should get checked out. This had gone on for too long.
Dr Green looked grave when we were sitting in his office. He looked from me to you and his eyes were sad, and I didn’t dare to not hope, but I guess that was a mistake on my part.
He said that there was no treatment he could offer. They didn’t know, after the decades that this had been happening, what exactly was happening to people.
The symptoms were all the same: the patients would start hallucinating, seeing things that weren’t there – or were they illusions? They could have been illusions – and then they would start to disappear.
They were working on technology that could possibly keep them grounded here: a chair into which the patients were strapped, their wrists held onto the arms, so that they could do nothing but sit there staring at the wall. The wall, he said, they would know was there.
I didn’t particularly like the idea of you being strapped to a chair and staring at a wall. Your hands, I felt, could be put to much better use. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Dr Green said humour would help.
I’m not sure it’s done anything for me yet.
Anyway, they tried it.
It didn’t work. You were still phasing in and out. The phases were getting nearer and nearer to each other, and they were lasting for longer and longer.
I asked Dr Green if he thought that one day the phases might be permanent.
He said one word: Undoubtedly.
I smashed Gary at pool that evening.
Dr Green said that he didn’t know how long it would be before you disappeared and never came back. He did say that it might not be forever, though. He said that there were stories of people coming back from wherever they had disappeared to.
They were changed, though. They were different.
I’m not sure that really bothers me. I don’t care if you’re different, only that you come back. Dr Green doesn’t want to give me false hope. I can tell he has no hope himself. I don’t really trust him anymore. His method didn’t work, though he did say that it probably wouldn’t…
I’m still living my life, as much as I can. I’m still getting hit on by the guy at work. I’m still smashing Gary at pool. I’m still sitting on our sofa in my Pikachu onesie. But I can’t stop looking to the left and expecting to see you there.
Gary wants to help, but he’s not sure how.
We still go to the Moon Parlour every other week, still playing pool. I don’t drink anymore. I’m too unstable, and I’m scared of what happened before.
I’m going to tell you what happened.
It was before we met. I was probably nineteen, and Gary was nearing his twentieth. We were playing pool at the Moon Parlour, and I had been drinking cider.
I got drunk. Too drunk. More drunk than I’d ever been, and more drunk than I’ve ever been since. I was going to throw up, and Frank made us leave. He really doesn’t like it when people throw up in his bar. That’s why the alleyway round the back is so horrific; that’s where everyone has to go when they start to feel ill, and after you go around to the back alley, the bouncers won’t let you back in.
Gary took me out back so that I could puke. He was going to hold my hair back, but I was so far gone that I forgot that the hands touching me were Gary’s. I tried to cry out for help, but the only thing that came out was vomit.
I was terrified, thinking that there was this random man trying to have his way with me.
I had brought my bottle, and I swung backwards. Knocked him over the head. Knocked him out. Knocked a glass shard into his temple.
I collapsed, lying on the floor and emptying my stomach, while Gary collapsed and lay there bleeding from his head and dead to the world.
It took a good five minutes before I was aware enough to realise that Gary could end up literally dead to the world.
The fear sobered me up. I rang an ambulance.
I didn’t sleep that night. When Gary got out of surgery, I sat in the waiting room reading shitty magazines until the nurse let me go in and see him. Then I sat by his side until he woke up, twelve hours later.
By that point, I was genuinely sober, knackered but still wired.
The funny thing was, and this is the reason you don’t know what happened, was that Gary didn’t remember a thing when he woke up. He still doesn’t.
I told him that he had fallen in the alley and there was broken glass on the floor and he had fallen on it. It turns out I hadn’t told the paramedics what had happened, and they believed it as well.
So the truth was never found out, and I kept that secret until now.
That was the only thing that I have never told you. I thought I would never tell anyone, but I think a part of me thinks that if you know what happened between me and Gary that it might persuade you to come back.
I’m going to give this to one of the patients in the asylum. I’m going to wait until they disappear forever, and hope that wherever they go, they will find you and give it to you.
Dr Green said that anyone who comes back doesn’t stay. But they don’t go alone again, either. They take someone with them, and only then are they gone for good, wherever it is they’ve gone.
I don’t know if it’s heaven. If that’s the way to get to heaven, then what happens when we die? Or is it that some people achieve enlightenment before they die, and they get sucked up into heaven? Then why would they come back?
No, I won’t ask that. I don’t care why, as long as you come back, and take me with you. And maybe take Gary as well.
It’s funny; we tell people we’re brother and sister, but it’s not true. My mum had her hands full with a job and me when I was a kid, after my father wasn’t there anymore. I don’t know Gary’s parents. They died not long after we met. But he’s still my brother, in all but blood.
He doesn’t like that I’ve started looking for beautiful things. He doesn’t want to lose me like I lost you, but if you come back and take both of us then he won’t have to. But I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like. I can’t see anything other than what I can see in front of me.
Maybe I pale in comparison to the things in the world you’re in right now. Maybe you’ve been so transformed by this that you’re too beautiful for me now.
I would very much like to escape this world now. If that’s what it takes to see you again, then that is what I will do.
Maybe if I look hard enough, I can see beyond this world. I can see those beautiful things. And then I can disappear, and join you in that other world.
Ellen Grace is a writer and poet from the UK currently studying for her Masters by Research in Theology and Religion. Her literary endeavours include short stories, flash fiction, and micropoetry, covering the genres of literary fiction, science-fiction, and fantasy. A collection of her work can be found at her personal blog , and she Tweets under the handle @ellengwriter.