When We Remember

When the light left the dream, she woke up in the darkness. She always woke up at this point, adrift in an ocean of darkness. She lay there trying to grasp it but failed. It felt like she had lost something, forgotten something, left something behind… She felt hollow and hungry.


She had not eaten for a day or two, and then the City rushed jarringly back into her consciousness. The grit around her, the sweet, sickening smell of garbage, the roar of traffic and the pain in her neck from the angle she had lain.

Her head hurt, her neck hurt and she felt too numb for even tears to form.

Slowly she pushed herself up–without a plan, but a need to find something to eat–and stumbled out from behind the trash cans at the bottom of the alleyway in the bad part of the City. She could taste the last night’s decisions in her throat and instinctively wiped her hands on her dirty pants.

It started raining. No, it had always been raining and now it was raining heavier. Adrift in the darkness with the light in her dream long forgotten, she stumbled out to the lonely street.


He watched the rain running down the windows, some of it spraying inside from the open one. The fraying carpet was getting wet but he did nothing to correct or stop it and kept staring at the rain; staring through the rain. He kept trying to pierce the darkness just beyond it.

Try as he might, he just could not pierce the darkness.

It was like that recurring dream he kept having but could never remember. All he could ever remember was the vaguest memory of light. He felt like there was something just outside of his grasp. Something he had lost, something forgotten or left behind. He felt hollow with despair.


She had left. The kids had left. The work and the money had left. There had never been much else for him, and the cancer was just ironic as well. The reasons to exist felt fewer and fewer like he was adrift in an ocean of darkness; drowning out there in the dark waters with nothing but the vague, fading memory of light to cling to.

He was on the top floor with the City wreathed in the night far below but for some reason, he could see a lady on the street below him stumble out from an alley. With an empty street and absent crowds, it was like she too was lost in an ocean of darkness. Perhaps his ocean of darkness? One body adrift seeing another, briefly, before the waters swallowed them forever.

He sighed and stood up. The window was too small and he had no balcony. The roof, though, was just a short walk from the apartment, up the stairs that lay behind the elevator.

He turned from the window and walked out of the room, turning the light off. Outside, the rain started to beat down even harder as the darkness swallowed the space inside the drab room.


Do they ever remember?” asked a being, watching the man walk to the edge of the roof, “Do they ever know?

It was a quick fall to the ground where the lady stood. The point of impact was only about two feet from where she was and, almost immediately, the heavy rain began to wash off the blood from her and the surrounding concrete pavement. There was a moment of shock and then she began to scream, stumbling back into the street and furiously wiping her hands on herself.

No,” the other being said, “No, they never remember where they have come from and where they will return.

A sudden, careless car tore out from the night and, adrift in the dark ocean, the waters abruptly closed over the lady’s head. Mercilessly, the car sped on into the night and the rain kept coming down harder, washing the street clean from where both broken bodies now lay.

Why?” said a third being, suddenly also there as if it had always been there, “Why did I not know before?

The first two beings turned and saw the third. And then there was a fourth with them as if it had always been with them.

Why did we have to go through all of that, if there was always this?” asked the fourth being, wreathed in the same light that the other beings shone with.

The second being smiled sadly.

Light cannot exist without darkness, and darkness cannot be understood and cannot be learnt from while standing in the light. We cannot swim in the ocean–or, learn to swim in the ocean by dipping a mere toe into it. We must be immersed in the dark waters to learn its lessons.”

The other three beings nodded their agreement sadly. They all remembered their lessons, and they remembered all the lessons before that, and before that. Many, many times over.