The mountain

Mirena awoke, a sudden sense of fright gripping her chest. Something was missing, something important. But the memories of the dream slipped, mockingly, from her mind. She thrust out her arm, fingers reaching only at air, urging the something that she did not have, that she did not know, to return to her. But it did not come. Minutes ticked by, and the urgency in her heart was gradually replaced by an overwhelming emptiness, a sense of loss. She cupped her hands around her face, took a deep breath, the first breath she had taken in years, and swung her feet out of bed.

That was when she saw him.

“Eloa!” She took her second first breath in years. “You startled me. What are you doing up?”

He was standing in the doorway, and she couldn’t tell if he had been coming or going. Apparently he didn’t know, either, for he continued to stand there, looking at her with unblinking eyes. What had he seen? Had she said something just before she had awakened?

“Come back to bed,” she said. He didn’t move. The soft light from the hallway caressed one side of his face, his nose and lips casting a shadow across the other side. She marvelled at his simple beauty, and she reached out to him, longing to hold him. And to be held by him. “Come on,” she said again.

He turned slightly, and she saw that his eyes and cheeks were wet. “What is it, Eloa?” Had he heard her call out? Maybe he would be able to give her a clue that would help her remember.

He said simply, “I had the dream again.”

“The mountain?”

He nodded.

She got up then, all thoughts of her own dream spilling from her mind. She knelt beside him, taking his tiny hands in hers, and looking into his eyes. “Tell me about it. Did you get any closer?”

“No,” he said, and he swung his arms around her neck, sobbing now into her shoulder.

“It’s okay, baby, it’s okay,” she said. She lifted him up and took him back to bed.

“I’ve got to find a way to make it higher, mommy. I’ve got to.”

“Why don’t I help you? Save your strength. Let me carry you halfway. When I can’t climb anymore, I’ll let you down, and you’ll be able to make it the rest of the way. How does that sound? Okay?”

He nodded, and she ran her hand through his hair, tugging at the hair in the back near his neck. She lay beside him, holding him close to her. “We’ll make it,” she reassured him. “And then you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

She hugged him more tightly, and he seemed to melt into her, filling her empty heart.

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