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Lorelei

by Avis


     From the dark exhaustion of night emerged a lucid new world of dreams. I stood on a green carpet of grass towering above the seaside. The dark stone cliffs jutted out above the tumultuous ocean. The sound of the sea several hundred feet below me was muted, but still filled my ears with a steady hum. A gray blanket of clouds, suspended in the sky, turned the waves deep ashen blue as they crashed upon the beach’s jagged rocks. A hollow chill hung in the air, and the sea’s crisp breeze felt real on my cheeks.

     Too real for a dream. But it was a dream, like the dreams I’d had on these cliffs for weeks now. Was my mind working to drive itself from sanity, as it added every perfect touch, from the taste of salt in the air, to the waves’ frosted white tips? Or had my sanity already left me and taken my sense of reality with it?

     As if in answer to these questions, a figure faintly appeared in the distance. I knew her, and from all those nightmares past, I knew what would happen next.

     I took off running across the green grass, and as I raced ever closer, the figure came into focus. Lorelei. I could see her dark hair, streaked through with silver, and she was wearing her favorite dress. The golden yellow fabric flowed like sunlight dripping from the heavens, and she glowed like an angel. But as I ran to her, panting for breath, I watched her turn away, gazing towards the sea, stepping closer to the cliff’s edge. Wait, I wanted to cry out. Wait!

     Just as I came close enough to reach out and almost touch her, Lorelei glanced back towards me with a sad smile, and then she jumped. My outstretched hand—a second too late—was empty and cold, and I fell to the ground.

     The vivid dreamscape instantly vanished and was replaced by my dark bedroom. I violently shook my head, as if trying to force the images of the nightmare out of my mind. But Lorelei—and the dream she starred in—would return the next time I closed my eyes.

     It had been weeks since her funeral. I was no better than I’d been the first night after seeing her body, cold and stiff, in a casket. Dreams were the only place I’d ever see her smile again, but they always became nightmares in the end. Was it worth it? I wondered. Was seeing her face, just one more time, worth relieving all this agonizing grief?

     I glanced at the bottle on the nightstand, and the answer was apparently “yes” because a moment later I’d swallowed the sleeping pills with a gulp of day-old water from the glass on my bedside table.

     Grief, in a strange way, was a form of love that lingered after death that remained with me even after Lorelei left me. It was this grief—this love—that wanted nothing more than to find her again, even if she was nowhere but my darkest nightmares. If the pills could take me to Lorelei, I would follow them there.

     The agonizing minutes of wakefulness dragged on until the chemicals seeped into my bloodstream and dragged me back down into darkness. From the murky shadows of my mind emerged the same cliffside scene: gray skies, dark waves, and rough stone cliffs above it all. Here I stood on the spring green grass, searching for Lorelei in the distance. I would change the story this time. I wouldn’t lose her again.

     I saw a glimpse of gold, the flowing fabric of her brilliant yellow gown gleaming near the cliff’s edge. This time I chose to walk, plodding across the vivid green grass. Perhaps with a careful approach, I could convince her not to jump.

     Lorelei. She turned towards me as I walked slowly, trying not to chase her away.

     “Lorelei,” I spoke. Her eyes widened. Just a few meters away now.

     “Lorelei, please don’t go.” Two meters.

     “I need you, Lorelei.” One meter.

     I reached out towards her. “Lorelei, please, stay.”

     She glanced at the sea below, and backed a step away from me, turning so the cliff’s edge was at her back. A chilly sea breeze suddenly picked up, and her dress rippled around her.

     Lorelei stared at my outstretched hand, hesitating. And finally, she spoke, with a clear, mellifluous voice, “You know I can’t stay.”

     Tears swelled at the familiar sound. It had been far too long since I’d heard her speak. “Why not? Why won’t you stay with me?”

     Lorelei stood there, ethereal, with the sea and the sky at her back, and yet neither could compare to her beauty. And then she whispered in her sweet voice. “Because I’m already gone.” And with those words, she fell gracefully over the precipice, her gown billowing around her.

     I stared at my empty hand, still outstretched, still reaching for Lorelei. And without another thought, I leapt after her.

     The dawn’s light was just beginning to peek through my curtains when I jolted awake, shivering in the lingering night air. I had been so close. She’d spoken to me. I’m already gone, she’d said. But what if there was a way? I shook my head as if trying to calm the chaos in my mind. I was delusional. She was gone, but her words were a lingering echo driving me mad.

     I forced myself out of bed, but my head spun and the dizziness brought me to my knees on the hardwood floor. I would have bruises later. I tried to stand up again, but my legs buckled and I fell back down.

     I blinked. The bottle of sleeping pills was lying on its side on the floor in front of me. I must have knocked it over in my sleep. I stared at the pill bottle. No. I had two doses already this night. No more. I looked away. Lorelei’s voice haunted me.

     I glanced back, and with every scrap of will I still had, I shoved the bottle away from me and watched it roll away. It bumped into the wall, and ever so slowly, it lazily rolled back to me and slid into my hand. My willpower gone, I downed two more pills and crawled back onto my bed.

     When my mind quieted and slowly fell back into darkness, the seaside dreamscape emerged once more. I scanned the grassy green cliffs, searching for Lorelei and her distinctive golden gown. The cliffs were empty. She was nowhere to be found.

     Then I spotted it—a worn dirt trail that cut down the side of the cliff. The path was steep and rocky, but I followed it down to the sea. The jagged crags loomed above me as I trekked along the beach, searching for Lorelei.

     Time stretched and shrunk in the strange way the dreams twisted from the logic of reality. After what seemed like hours, or perhaps a single moment, I found myself staring at crimson stains on the beach. The scarlet blood, although fresh, was alone. There was no broken body, not even a thread of Lorelei’s golden dress. Only blood, and as I watched, gentle ocean waves rushed up, then retreated, washing away the stains of tragedy from the quiet shoreline.

     Lorelei was gone. I sat on a boulder, smoothed over eons by the sea’s steady tides. Lorelei is gone. I stared at the dark sapphire sea. Lorelei was here, but she’s gone. The waves continued their never-ending odyssey up and down the stony beach. The crimson reminder of her presence—of her tragedy—had washed away until the rocks were untainted.

     Suddenly, the deep blue sea lightened in color, and the waves’ aureate edges shimmered gold. I glanced up. The sky, which had been a moody gray for all of my dreams thus far, was changing. Sunlight—glorious, golden sunlight—fell gracefully through a gap in the clouds, and it danced upon the ocean. As if pieces of heaven were dripping down to earth, the world around me turned gold in the light, and within me, a new calmness, an unfamiliar peace, settled.

     Lorelei. I gazed up at the gilded sky and in it, I saw the gold of her dress, and the beauty of her smile. Lorelei’s voice rested under the steady sounds of the sea, and her laughter echoed in distant birdsong.

     Lorelei was everywhere and nowhere. She was gone, she had left me, and yet her presence surrounded me.

     And with that thought, the world faded in an instant, and I found myself, awake once more, opening my eyes into the golden daylight streaming through the curtains.

Epilogue:

     I stared at the picturesque seashore, a real vista this time. A gentle breeze carried the sweet, salty aroma to me, and the songs of seabirds echoed across the coastline. I stood on the pebbly beach and watched the waves crash against the rocks.

     The scene in my dreams had been surprisingly similar to the real thing—the towering cliffs, the steady rhythm of the ocean. But the dreams were over. Lorelei was gone, but I was learning to live in the real world again, learning to stand alone in the bright, golden sunlight of day.


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7 Reviews


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Reviews: 7

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Sat Jan 08, 2022 6:17 pm
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D wrote a review...



hello there! D here with a short review!
I really enjoyed reading this story! I find supernatural stories too unnatural at times but I felt like this was an almost perfect blend of realism and supernatural ideas!
I loved how this story embodies so many emotions, besides just telling a story and how it feels really mysterious and bittersweet.
I think you did a lovely job portraying grief in a way that was both healthy and philosophical in a way! I enjoyed the dreams speckled in between and the subtle repetitions - they really seemed to root the story in mystery.
And I think the epilogue was a nice touch bringing in acceptance to complete the cycle.
Overall, I found this to be a beautifully penned story with a captivating plot!




Avis says...


Thank you for the review and I'm really glad you enjoyed this! ^-^



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Points: 51
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Sat Jan 08, 2022 3:32 am
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YP@17 wrote a review...



Hi Avis,

YP here with a short review! :D

That´s a great descriptive story yet short story with already the most necessary information for a reader.
It was pretty interesting to read work like these.
Not gonna lie I find it a little philosophical.
Also find, adding an epilogue makes it more interesting. I really liked this Paragraph " I stared at the picturesque seashore, a real vista this time. A gentle breeze carried the sweet, salty aroma to me, and the songs of seabirds echoed across the coastline. I stood on the pebbly beach and watched the waves crash against the rocks."
Just Awesome!!
You did a very good job to keep writing simple. because I find it more writer uses complex words it just makes reader life hard sometimes.



Good job!
I liked to read more.
Have fun writing!
Keep writing!
Cheers!,




Avis says...


Thank you for the review and the feedback! I'm really glad you liked the epilogue, since that was one of the parts I was most hesitant on ^-^



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Points: 51
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Sat Jan 08, 2022 3:32 am
YP@17 says...






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Points: 250
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Thu Jan 06, 2022 3:34 am
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yourlocalbookworm14 wrote a review...



Okay, I loved this piece so much! When I first started I thought of the siren legend Lorelei, but then it hit me it was a dead person. I mostly love how in the dream the narrator sort of accepts Lorelei's death, and with that acceptance, he is able to find comfort. My overall favorite line has to be, "Lorelei was everywhere and nowhere. She was gone, she had left me, and yet her presence surrounded me." It made me think of how even if it may not seem, we are never truly alone in our struggles, and the first step is always to admit the problem before it becomes an addiction. To top it all off your descriptive words are so well placed! Your words really made me feel a part of this story!




Avis says...


Thank you so much for the review and the feedback! Part of the reason why I chose the name Lorelei for that character was because of the siren legend and I thought the settings (the cliffs) sort of matched actually. And although Lorelei isn't actually a siren in this story, I thought that certain parts of how the narrator is drawn to her sort of matched as well!



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Sat Jan 01, 2022 12:15 pm
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something wrote a review...



Okay, when I first read this, the first thing that I noticed was the descriptive language. It really helped me to imagine that I was there, but it wasn't too over the top.
I loved how you explained grief being like 'a form of love that lingered after death'. I thought this was a really heartwarming way to describe it. Also, the ending is just an incredible mix of melancholy and reassurance that can sometimes be a bit difficult to express when writing, but you nailed it!
The only thing I'd say would be to maybe explain a little bit more about how the character knew Lorelei, like if they were in a relationship they could have kissed on the cliff before she jumped, but you don't have to do this!

Overall you have written an amazing short story here full of description that portrays grief, loss, and love.
Keep writing!:D




Avis says...


Thank you so much for the review, I'm glad you liked it ^-^



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Sat Jan 01, 2022 2:33 am
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SoullessGinger wrote a review...



Heyo! Ell here with a review.

First Readthrough: This piece is so achingly bittersweet. You do an excellent job of creating your own reality in the reader's head. I felt as though I was there on the cliff with Lorelei and your mourner. Your descriptions provide just enough detail to pull a reader in, but not too much that they get bored with it. What little dialogue you have included does a good job of establishing the relationship of the mourned and the mourner between these two. However, I think adding some more personal dialogue that is unique to Lorelei and your unnamed character would add another emotional layer to this piece and take your writing to the next level.

Favorite parts:

Was my mind working to drive itself from sanity, as it added every perfect touch, from the taste of salt in the air, to the waves’ frosted white tips? Or had my sanity already left me and taken my sense of reality with it?

I love this bit. It's very philosophical and adds a depth to your character's persona.

Lorelei was gone, but I was learning to live in the real world again, learning to stand alone in the bright, golden sunlight of day.

This is a lovely sentiment, and a great ending to this melancholy piece. I really like how you end this on a hopeful note, even though our main character is still grieving.

Final Notes: Great descriptive writing! You paint a clear picture with your words. The contradictions between this person's waking world and dreams add a very profound contrast to this story. Great job! My only note is to make the relationship between Lorelei and your character more unique and personal, as opposed to a simple mourned and mourner. Overall, wonderful writing and I hope you contribute even more to this site! :)




Avis says...


Thank you so much for the review and your feedback (and happy new year!) ^-^




If it wasn't for poetry, I couldn't express myself.
— Rosendorn