Dreams of Val

     When love fell in me those millions and millions of heartbeats ago, the world was a strange place of rotary telephones and tiny television screens that flickered in grainy black and white.

     When love fell in me that sweltering summer, my legs still worked and my spine didn't have corkscrews of pain.

     My parents were alive and playful and active, and none of my friends had ever died.

     It was a year of music; a year of colours; a year of discovery.

     It was the year of Valerie.

     All those heartbeats and women ago, and I can still rest my eyes and see her clearly, with her chestnut hair tumbling over her shoulders and her chocolate-brown eyes glinting as if with mischief. Near enough to touch, her willowy frame still stands before me; a little jauntily, cocked the way she liked, with the weight off one slightly bent leg.

     In that long-ago time before loss, I seem to remember laughter; great gales of happiness that swept through our every shining day. We held hands as if conjoined at the fingers. We constantly glanced at each other, collecting expressions and nuances like gem stones.

     We picked apples in her father's orchard, and at no time since has work seemed so easy.

     We went fishing, but only to clasp each other in our private patch of sunshine and lie entwined through lazy afternoons.

      Valerie was the first exquisite and magical thing I'd ever touched, and my fingers still tingle with the softness of her neck and the curve of her collarbone. I shuddered in passion when we were together, and trembled in anticipation when we were apart.

     Through the telescope of time, that distant world now seems as astonishing as Hubbel's exploding cosmos.

     When love fell in me those millions and millions of heartbeats ago, the world was a strange place where everyone was alive.

    If only Valerie would reach out from my veiled dream and take my veined hand now, I know I'd be able to stand. I know there would be colour and life and laughter again.

The End

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