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Image by Christopher Campbell

Week #20

Fairy Kiss​​

I have perfectly clear memories of a childhood fraught with average childhood highs and lows. Memories of mundane parents that worked too hard to provide for me and my sister. I vividly remember when I left home to go to college some nine thousand miles away from home. I remember the endless assignments across five years of college and graduate school. I remember too many working hours, trying my best to make a difference in an indifferent world. I even remember a failed marriage, mistakenly searching for happiness.

I clearly remember this long and tiring life. Apathy and exhaustion the result. Sense of loneliness and misery just expected companions. Or so I assumed till yesterday night’s dream.

 

I do have a vivid imagination. So dreams are par for the course. But this one didn’t feel like a dream. First, I can remember every word, every detail. Second, I now have an overlay of new memories sitting on top of the perfectly clear life story that was there before.

Yesterday was a routine day, much like any other. After work, I took the dog out for a walk. We walked almost 4 miles till the sun set and twilight started creeping in. Dinner was a non-event, just leftovers. A little bit more work and some light reading before going to sleep. That was it. The sense of loneliness was nothing extraordinary and the trickle of tears that bled to the pillow as I waited for sleep to takeover was just routine. None were reasons to expect anything out of the ordinary. This is the normal routine every night after all.

I woke up when I felt the kiss on my forehead. It’s been a long time since I had been kissed like that. It was like the gentle kiss from a loving parent waking you up to a new day. The woman who woke me was not my mom though. Only word that could describe her is ethereal. Her face, shoulders and hands were the only defined human characteristic. Rest of her seemed to be cloaked in a shimmering curtain, like the material was made of solar flares that created the northern lights. Her smile was sad but kind. She took me by the hand and helped me to sit up.

“Hello” In retrospect I should’ve been scared. But in that moment, I wasn’t. She felt familiar.

 

“It’s been a while Sandha. Do you remember me?” Her voice reminded me of sunbeams that immediately warmed your insides.  

 

“Ummm… you seem very familiar. But I can’t quite put my finger on where we've met though”

“That’s not surprising. When you took the elixir to become human all your old life should’ve been wiped out of your memory.”

“Huh?” I should’ve been more surprised but I wasn’t. Instead, I felt annoyed. The moment her words were out I could sense a partition in my mind. It was an opaque wall. On one side sat all the memories of my ordinary life I remember. The other side had moving shadows only.

 

“You can sense it now, can’t you?”

 

“Yes. It’s like one of those things that’s always in front of your face but you don’t notice until someone else points it out.”

 

“Right, that’s why I came. Without someone pointing it out you wouldn't have noticed that partition in your mind.”

“But I still can’t see anything… I mean remember anything.”

 

“No, you won’t be able to see anything from this side of the wall. You have to walk through it.”

 

“But it’s a solid wall.”

 

“There’s a key that will make it passable. You just need to figure out what or rather who it is.”

 

“A key that is a person?... like someone in my day to day?”

 

“Not exactly in your day to day in the physical sense. But yes, you’ve watched them recently.”

 

“Watched them?? That sounds stalker-ish… I don’t think I’m stalking anyone.” The thought made me laugh.

 

“I’m glad your sense of humor isn’t quite dead. I was getting worried your fun and carefree self was fading away.”

 

“I don’t think anyone’s called me fun and carefree before.”

 

“Wait till your memories are back. You’ll see what I mean… but in the meantime, let’s get back to the key.”

 

“Right, the person that is the key. Someone I’m ‘watching’ but not physically interacting. I’m guessing it’s someone from the past I’ve forgotten then?”

 

“Yes, he is the reason and result.”

 

“Oh… it is a man then?”

 

“Yes. A human male that you prized over your life with us.”

 

“Whoa… be careful, you might sound bitter and angry if you keep going.” I couldn’t mask the sarcasm.

 

“Of course, I’m bitter and angry. You were my protégé. Our entire race hadn’t seen a Sensitive like you in millennia. But instead of honing your talent you obsess over a human and throw it all away to chase after love.”

 

“What?”

 

“I would’ve understood if love was even real. But none of our records from the last 67 millennia have any evidence that romantic love is real. It’s mostly physical attraction and whims of the moment turning into a sense of responsibility. You knew all this. You had studied human history before being allowed to go on missions. And yet, this is the path you took… now look at you? stuck in this human form, working your hands to the bone clacking away those noisy buttons most of the day thinking you are changing the world and crying your self to sleep every night. Your actual life was to shape this world and lead it to a sustainable place. That is what our Sensitives do. After throwing that all away for some crazy notion of love, now you are looking for that purpose blindly.” She had built up steam as she went on. It was obvious there was a lot of pent-up sadness and disappointment in her. It seems she had lost someone in the exchange. I reached out and took her hand.

“I’m sorry but you have to go a little slow with me here. I don’t really understand half of what you are saying. I don’t know what Sensitives are and I can’t imagine I would give up the chance to make a difference in the world for a lost cause.” I said in the most soothing voice I could manage. I intuitively knew I needed her calm to be able to figure out the key.

 

“That’s what you think now, child. But you gave up 120 years of your life just to spend a couple of hours with him even before you chose to become human. That is more than one tenth of our life span. No one in our entire race has done that before as far as I know.”

“It certainly sounds like I was a fool over and over. But I still don’t understand half of what you’ve said.”

 

“You need to figure out the key. That’s the only way your memories can be unlocked.”

 

“Right, the man that is the key.”

 

“Hmmm…” She was obviously still in a mood.

 

“Before we get to him, can you tell me your name and maybe what you are?”

 

“I’m Alara. There's no single name for us among humans. We are what humans model fairies, angels and even demi-gods after. You were my ward and my protégé before all this.”

“Well, its nice to meet you… again… Alara. I’m grateful you are here, especially after the way I seem to have disappointed you.”

 

“Well, it’s not like I could’ve left you to suffer like this. Everything you threw away would’ve been for nothing if you don’t even get the chance to fight for this silly love thing you wanted.”

 

“Thank you… I have no idea still half of what you are saying but I’m grateful you are here.”

 

“Right… so the key…”

 

“Yes, the key that is a man I watch… is there any other clues you can give me.”

 

“If your brain is still intact that should be more than enough.” Her biting sarcasm was somehow familiar and not really hurtful. Some part of me instinctively knew this is her way of caring.

“Ok… so if the person is not in my physical environment then is it someone I watch say in movies? Or tv? or internet? That’s really the only ‘watching’ I do of any man these days.”

 

“Knew your brain was still intact.” She muttered. She couldn’t quite hide her pride even in these few words.

“But how do I narrow down who? There are literally hundreds or thousands of people in each of these mediums.”

 

“Well, is there anyone you are particularly attracted to? Without any rational explanation?”

 

“I mean… there are lots of attractive people in movies and TV. Like who doesn’t like Chris Hemsworth or Brad Pitt… right?”

 

“You fell for him when you were a sensitive. So, no you didn’t fall for a pretty face.”

 

“What exactly is a ‘sensitive’? It seems there is some relevance here.”

 

“A sensitive is one of the classes in our race. Sensitives can read others – their emotions, their thoughts, their desires and so on… the best sensitives are ultimately seers because they can put together what they see to then predict behavior.”

 

“Wow… so, you all can read my mind and know what I’m thinking and feeling? That feels very creepy and a complete invasion of privacy.”

 

“Wait until you figure out the rest of our society. I can’t wait to hear your human perspective on them.”

 

“Lovely… I’m scared to even ask… so back to the key. So is it a public figure but an ugly one? So, maybe this is like a news personality or a politician or someone who play the villain in movies? They are always less than good looking.”

“I don’t imagine anyone will call him ugly. But you didn’t fall for his looks is all I’m saying.”

 

“Oh… Thank god he’s not ugly. I was worried my standards are slipping here.” my laughing comment didn’t get any reaction from Alara. “But that just made the pool of candidates pretty large again.”

 

“Fine, he’s one of the best looking humans out there if that helps to narrow it some.”

 

“Really? Should I start going through the top 100 most handsome men lists then?”

 

“For what? To come up with a few hundred to choose from?” I didn’t understand Alara's flippant remark.

 

“What do you suggest then? All I know so far is he’s a public figure that is one of the most handsome men in the world. What else do I have to work with?”

“You have become dense in the last few years, haven’t you? I already told you Sensitives see the inner person. What does that mean?”

“Right, right… so it is someone with substance and not just a pretty face.”

 

“Finally…”

 

“Sounds like I have to cross reference the 100 most handsome men list with their extracurricular activities to see who works for charities and who has a decent personality. That’ll be months of listening to interviews and reading articles…”

 

“You are forgetting the most important thing, child.” The sympathetic tone of her voice made me more vary than all the sarcasm and disappointment before. “When you saw him, a part of you would’ve instantly recognized his shape. You would’ve still missed him without any rational explanation. You would’ve felt your heart breaking for being separated from him.”

“Oh…” The searing pain was back. It was a combination of intense heart burn and a vise around the heart just squeezing till you couldn’t stand it. The pain had caught me by surprise the first time I felt it a few months ago. Since then, the sense of loneliness had intensified and the tears had come more freely at night. I had struggled mightily to make sense of missing a picture on TV. It had disoriented my down-to-earth lifestyle to want him with this intensity. “You mean Oppa? He’s the key?”

“Yes.”

 

“How can he be the one? He’s like 12 years younger than me? and he's surrounded by the most gorgeous women on earth. Why would I take a portion and come to a world where I have no chance in hell to ever even meet him? Even my human brain knows the math doesn’t work there? If I was such a talented Sensitive or whatever how could I have been that stupid?”

“Trust me, I completely agree you were stupid. But you believed you can make it happen. Nothing we said could discourage you from it all.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes - really, really… now, the whole 12-year age gap is because of the 120 years you exchanged for the couple of hours you spent with him when you were still one of us. The way the conversion spell works for us is, if we want to spend any time with a human outside of an assigned mission, then we have to give 10 years of our life for 10 mins with them.”

“You already said I gave up one tenth of my lifespan to spend those couple of hours. But why does the 120 years become 12 years here?”

 

“The elixir you took to become human has a similar conversion calculator built-in. 10 years of our life span is turned into 1 human year when you morph. You had lived almost 290 years at the time you chose to become human. But because you had exchanged 120 years to spend minutes with him prior to that, you became a 41-year-old human.”

 

“Wait… what do you mean I became a 41-year-old?”

 

“That’s how old you were when you became human.”

 

“That doesn’t make sense. I remember being a kid, a teenager and everything else up to my forties. I have parents and co-worker and friends who knew me long before I was 41. That makes no sense…”

 

“Did you really think we’d leave holes in human memories when we integrate one of ours to this world? Those are all made up… Much as I hated losing you, I do remember it was one of the best collaborations we Masters did across all the disciplines in recent years.” Alara’s self-satisfied tone actually helped to dissipate my confusion.

 

“Huh… that’s a lot of things I remember doing that I haven’t actually done then…”

 

“Yes… well, now that you have the key you can walk through the barrier in your mind and know what is real and what is not.”

“Right… I can get my real memories back.” I was suddenly scared. If the searing pain was any indication, then being scared seemed like a very rational response.

 

“Being scared isn’t worth it Sandha. You made this journey to find him and now you’ve wasted human years not knowing why you came. The only reason I gave up three decades of my life to come here and guide you is because I don’t want you to waste anymore time. Find him, figure out if there’s a future for you two and if there isn’t then come back to us. There’ll be a heavy price to pay if you decide to come back but this half life of crying yourself to sleep is no life at all.”

 

“But will he recognize me from back then?”

“That’s a tough question. We don’t have any records to say for sure one way or another. But if I had to take a shot I’d say he won’t recognize your human form. There are two reasons I’m saying that. First of all, your human form isn’t the same as what you were when you were one of us. Second, when you spent time with him before becoming human, he couldn’t see you. He felt you like a presence. That’s how Sensitives interact with humans.”

 

“So he never really saw me. He doesn’t know I even exist.”

 

“He might recognize your mind. The way you think, talk and guide him are the only things he would be familiar with. The problem is, you’ll have a tough time getting him to hear you. Humans make so many decisions based on outward appearances so not sure he’ll be able to see past your form. But this human you chose is also surrounded by guards and rules that no average person can actually talk to him.”

 

“I really fell for the wrong guy, didn’t I?”

 

“Sandha… you know by now I didn’t want you to leave. You were our hope to lead this generation. But the way you felt towards him is something none of us had ever seen either. We have an entirely new discipline in our records now based on that alone. So, no, I don’t think you chose the wrong guy. If what you said about him - his mind, his values, his kindness… if I believe those, then he might be the only human in all the history of time that is worthy of the sacrifice you made.”

“Really? He’s that good, huh?”

 

“You have the key now. Go get your memories back and decide for yourself.”

 

“Ok.”

 

“I have to go. My time is almost up. Just remember, once you go through the wall, take the memories in order. Otherwise, you’ll miss little things that connect the dots from memory to memory.”

 

“Can I reach you again, Alara? In case I need to talk, again?”

 

“Call for me when you are ready to fall asleep. I’ll come if I can.”

 

“Thank you…” I mumbled as Alara leaned over and placed another kiss on my forehead.

 

This time, with the kiss, the room around me dissolved and I was standing in front of the shimmering, opaque wall. I placed my hand on it and whispered Oppa’s name. A beam of light appeared where the hand was and elongated itself to become a rectangular shape about 8 feet high. The shape held for a moment and pulsed before becoming an opening I could walk through.

There was a white marble path leading from the opening. The shadows I had seen on the other side of the wall before had coalesced into scenes down the path. Taking Alara’s guidance I stepped into the first scene in the path.

 

It was a camp site. There were half a dozen men. They seem to be wrapping up for the night. Some were putting away equipment and others were sitting around a slow burning campfire talking. Oppa was one of the ones next to the fire. He was talking to an older man next to him.

 

I had missed the girl behind the older man the first time I looked because she was mostly mist and shadow. There was almost no physical form other than a slight outline. Her face looked young, framed with flowing hair. She was beautiful like a charcoal art painting of the perfect female form. Like Alara, it was only her head, shoulders and arms that had form. Rest was a mirror of the night sky, just a black and blue shimmer. She was leaning in, intently listening to the conversation among the two men. Every once in a while, I could see her frown in concentration and then the older man would get excited and speak a little louder. Even though all the humans in the camp walked around where she stood, none of them seem to see her there.

 

Soon as I realized the girl is me, I felt a pull at my navel and I was sucked into her form. From this new vantage point, sitting next to Oppa and the older man, I could hear the conversation clearly.

“So, tomorrow we can drive up to the actual border. We finally got the clearance to make the trip.” The older man said.

“Great. I’ve never been this far north before, obviously. It’s much worse conditions than I really expected. It’s great we’ll be able to get the world to see the human part of this border along with the wildlife.” Oppa’s voice felt like music to my ears, even in the memories.

 

“Right, it is, isn’t it? I think this is the first time anyone has been allowed to film it here.”

 

“Well, it’s a part of our heritage whether we like it or not. We need to tell the story.”

 

I could feel myself concentrating. I was apparently guiding the older man to formulate the storyline for the filming that will happen the next day. I was slowly peeling off his desire for recognition and awards, stripping off embellishments and flare and guiding him to tell the real human interest story. The suffering and the waste.

“Agreed. Yes, we do need to capture the harshness here and what the soldiers have to endure because we can’t get along peacefully.” The older man, the Director apparently, said.

“Yeah, I was thinking we can weave some of that into my narrative too. We can make some of it casual observations like how cold it is that the food was frozen and how the soldiers have to walk hundreds of steps every day plus that whole warning they gave us about buried mines… we should figure out how to get those into the show.”

 

It was clear my assignment here was the older Director. But Oppa’s comment distracted me. It was like he was guiding the Director to do what my assignment required him to do.

Involuntarily I brushed against Oppa’s mind. His was filled with wonder at the landscape around him. Everything from the snow to the bare trees filled him with a child-like curiosity. He was looking forward to finally seeing the wildlife they had come in search of. But behind that wonder there was a trace of tears. A sense of unfiltered sadness that this wonder-filled world is being wasted because of human greed. A little spark in his mind was dancing in the shadows wanting to find a way to heal the divide. But even Oppa wasn’t aware of that spark. Front of his mind was filled with normal human worries and he was adept at pushing everything else to the back.

That glimpse had been the first step in falling for him. The wonder with which he saw the world was as precious to a Sensitive as his desire to heal the world. Watching the interaction, I realized, my heart had never stood a chance against the beautiful mind of this man.

The Director was like soft clay in Oppa’s hands. Their plan included the exact story my assignment had required by the time they both got in their respective sleeping bags for the night. I barely had to exert any effort with the Director even though I had lingered next to them the whole time.

As they walked over to the sleeping bags I followed Oppa. He had fascinated me.

 

By this point I had been on thousands of assignments. Behind most altruistic behavior humans had selfish aspirations. I was looking for those in Oppa’s mind. But I couldn’t sense anything hidden. He really said and did what he thought. It didn't mean he didn't have ambition or drive. Just that he spoke the truth and stood by his word. It was an enigma to the Sensitive I was then and I stayed by him until he fell asleep.

 

As the camp quieted, I could feel everyone thinking of either loved ones or next day’s work as they fell asleep. It was normal that the last thought for most people were one of these two. Oppa was one of the last to fall asleep though. His thoughts were more melancholy than others.

 

The intense feeling of loneliness that he struggled with tugged me to sit by his side. I slowly stroked his forehead with my thumb and sang to his mind. It wasn’t exactly a lullaby. It was a song I had heard in the human realm about waiting a millennia to be with your love. I wasn’t a millennia old yet, but in that first day I met oppa I instinctively knew I would love him all the millennia of my life.

My only regret that first day was I lacked a lap to have his head rest as he fell asleep. Unknown to me, the seed of becoming human had been planted then.

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