Loved As If – Chapter 9: The Plans I Have For You (another preview)

I was on a white beach. The taste of salt was on my lips, the smell of it in the air. A cerulean sky met a sea of the same colour. Foamy waves lapped against the shore and at the sides of a narrow land bridge that led to my home. I had built a many-tiered sandcastle. Elaborate tracery highlighted the top of each Gothic window. Mouldings, deeply impressed in the sand highlighted doors, decorated walls. An arched roof with trellised walls covered the cloister. I must show my family. But the tide had come in and the land bridge was now beneath brilliant blue waves.

A tunnel, cut through the rock beneath the bridge, provided an alternative route. I’m a strong swimmer, I thought as I dove into the water. With powerful strokes, I began to traverse the distance between the two shores. Before long, my muscles began to ache at the effort, my lungs heaved against my chest. I need air. I’ll have to go back. But then I saw them, a host of people swam behind me. I’ll never be able to get them all to turn and swim back in time. I must go on. The pain in my chest and limbs increased with every movement. I won’t make it, Lord. I had no more energy to pull my arms back, my feeble whip kick carried me just inches forward; I knew I would drown. At that moment, a hand reached out  and pulled me to shore.

I found myself on a thickly wooded island. Open, brass-studded treasure chests lay scattered beneath many trees, held gold coins and set and unset gem stones. The rubies and emeralds and sapphires were intensely vivid, richer than any color I had ever seen. The gold was nearly liquid. I made my way to a deep cave lit with candles in ornate holders and torches set in wall brackets. More open treasure chests were strewn about the floor. A dais in the center of the cave held an ornate, but tarnished, gold throne. The tunnel had exited behind the throne. A man, robed in a green velvet cloak with ermine trim, sat there in silence peering away from me. This man’s profile had haunted me since the day I had snapped on and found myself in the midst of strangers. I knew those hands, knew the feel of those arms holding me close as we rode through the rush of briny wind on a cantering horse. I stepped toward him, touched his arm, and wakened.


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