This story was based on the song “Make Me Real” by She. I am at some point going to rewrite it as a longer novella, but for now please enjoy the original short story.
All characters belong to me.
So this is what heaven is like. And she is an angel. My beautiful dark angel. Raven black hair and wings, the deepest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. A smile that could melt a glacier.
I can’t remember at first how I got here. The last thing I’d remembered was falling asleep. But then I saw her, watching me. She ran over to me in an almost slow-motion movement. When she reached me, she took my hands and looked up at me. “Joel,” she said. How did she know my name? Was this a dream?
She smiled and pointed to herself. “Kalina.” Kalina. A beautiful name for a beautiful angel. Without another word exchanged between us, she ran off down a starlit hill, pulling me along with her, wanting to show me the world around us.
We ran through green fields with a black, star-covered sky above us. I couldn’t believe that sky. The stars seemed so close, and I saw planets even closer. Blue and green lights shimmered in the air. Kalina smiled at me and showed me more spectacular sights. Mountaintops glittering with snow, forests that sang, and stars that danced. I thought it would never end.
But then Kalina took me by the hands and looked into my eyes, a sad look in hers. “You have to go now,” she said. “Please come back. I’m going to miss you.” Before I could say anything, I woke up, sitting straight up in bed. I was in my own, dreary room. She was gone. So it was just a dream after all.
I went to school as normal, but things felt different. Mundane. The campus looked more dull than it normally did, the hustle of all the college students almost felt faded and unreal. I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream, about Kalina.
On the way back to my dorm that night I stopped and stared up at the sky. There were no stars to be seen. I sighed softly and went back to my room, throwing my things aside and flopping down into my bed.
“What’s with you, Joel?” my roommate Kyle asked me. “You’ve been moping and sighing since you woke up this morning.”
“Nothing,” I replied with a sigh. “Have you ever had a dream that felt more real than life itself, and better?”
“Don’t start talking all crazy, Joel,” Kyle responded. “I’m going out with some other guys. You comin’ or not?”
“No, you go ahead,” I said. “I have work to do.” Kyle shrugged and left our dorm. “Thanks for the concern,” I grumbled under my breath.
I tried to get my work finished that night, but I couldn’t concentrate. All my thoughts were of Kalina and the world she showed me. I wanted to go back and get out of this drab existence I was now stuck in.
But it was a dream. Just a dream.
I fell back into my bed and closed my eyes, hoping some sleep would clear my head. I didn’t expect to see her again. Dreams never came more than once. Never at all. Dreams are nothing more than images your brain teases you with and then deletes forever.
And I was right. I didn’t dream of her again. I didn’t dream of anything at all. I slept through the night and then woke up the next morning and went back through my usual, mundane routine. At this point, at least, I had learned to accept that it hadn’t been real. My life still felt ungodly boring, but I could handle it. The biggest things I had to deal with were tests.
Sometimes when I would sleep I would hear things, like a woman laughing. No, she was crying. But I saw nothing in these dreams, only heard the sobs of a heartbroken girl in distress. I wanted so badly to go and help her, but I knew I couldn’t. Dreams didn’t work that way. You can’t do anything in dreams. Your actions are controlled. It’s like being a puppet.
I graduated from college and got a small apartment in the city. Two years had passed. I never had dreamed of Kalina again. I never even met anyone named Kalina. I turned away from those thoughts. I had a life now. Time to stop living in a dream that never happened. Time to grow up.
But some nights I could hear her, calling my name. I would sit up in bed but find myself alone. My apartment felt too small and too big at the same time, somehow.
One night I was walking home late from my job and got caught in the middle of a gang mugging. One of them pulled a gun and fired. I woke up in a hospital bed. The doctors told me I took the bullet right in the lung, and yet somehow I still lived.
When I slept that night in the hospital, I saw her again. Kalina. Black tears ran down her face.
“I waited for you, Joel. I waited for you to come back. But you never did. I waited for you for five years. Where did you go?”
“Kalina.” I took her by the hands, staring into her blue eyes. Her skin was cold and pale. The feathers of her black wings were falling out.
“Do you not like me?” she asked. “Is that why you never came back?”
“Of course not, Kalina!” I hugged her close to myself and whispered in her ear, “But you’re only a dream. That first night we spent together was only a dream. No one can dream the same thing twice.”
“I’m here now, aren’t I?” she said, pulling away from me.
I took a step back, not knowing what to say.
“Stay with me!” she said, taking me by the hand. “Please, stay.”
“I can’t, Kalina,” I said. “I have a life to get back to.”
“You don’t even like your life!” She feel to her knees, surrounded by the black feathers. “Please stay,” she said softly. “I’ve been trying to bring you back, make you remember me. I’ll, I’ll do anything you want! Be anything you want! I just need to be with you, Joel!”
“Kalina, stop this! It has nothing to do with you. I like you, I really do. I wish we could stay together.”
“I’ll die if we can’t,” she said. “You made me what I am. If you don’t believe in me, if you don’t dream of me, I won’t exist. I’ve been trying to stay alive.” She looked up at me. “Please.”
I knelt down beside her, taking her hands in mine. “Kalina, we can’t be together forever. You’re a dream. I’m not.”
She put her hand on my cheek and stared into my eyes. “This is the Dream World, Joel. Anything is possible here. Anything. I’ve been watching you, ever since that night we had together. You don’t like the world you live in.”
I looked down, sighing. “No, I don’t.”
“But you like it here, don’t you?” I nodded. She pulled me closer to her, putting both of her hands in mine. “We can live here together, forever. You’ll leave the Waking World and stay here. Will you do that for me?”
I stared at her for a long time. I finally nodded. “I’ll stay with you, Kalina. Forever.”
She leaned in and kissed me, much to my surprise. “I love you, Joel.”
“I love you too, Kalina.”
So this is what heaven is like. And she is an angel. My beautiful dark angel. And now we’ll be together forever.