“Why are you here again?”

Sitting at the edge of the bed, the young woman merely looked back at him from over her shoulder – a small, timid smile playing on her lips.

In the dark, her figure appeared solid – her fair skin and black hair opaque, with dark eyes seeming to absorb any light that shined upon them. But that was only an illusion, as when the first few rays of sun entered the room, they passed through her as if she was nothing more than mist – her existence wavering against the luminescence.

Peter shielded his eyes from the glare. It was about to be morning and he would have gotten up right then, but this has happened too many times for him to know that none of this was real. She wasn’t actually there, and he wasn’t actually awake yet.

This was all a dream – one more vivid than the others he’s been having with her. Always the same girl.


“I live here too, you know,” she responded, though her cheeky tone didn’t match the solemness in her eyes.

He glared at her, unconvinced. Ever since moving back into his apartment, he’d never encountered any women’s clothing lying around. “Liar,” he muttered, earning a chuckle on her end.

“Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. Who knows,” she replied in a sing-song manner. The corners of his mouth quirked up at the sound and he could have sworn her eyes widened at the movement.

Her gaze lingered on him a moment longer before drifting away to survey her surroundings. The room was not that big, with the bed occupying most of the space in the middle, a built-in cupboard on the left, and a study desk facing the window on the right. She swivelled her head all around, taking everything in, until she abruptly stopped, her eyes catching on something. 

“Are you moving out?” she asked suddenly, a frown evident in her tone.

“What?” he muttered, confused. He propped himself up on his elbows and saw that she was looking at a messy stack of boxes at a corner of the room. “Oh, that. I just… didn’t know what to do with all the stuff I had.”

Ever since the car accident a few months ago, he hadn’t been the same. He couldn’t handle loud music anymore, yet he owned a lot of rock records. His body was weaker, so he couldn’t use any of the gym equipment he had either. And somewhere along the way, the vibrant band posters he hung around his room had become too blinding for his eyes, he had to take them down. In the end, the apartment was stripped bare from everything it was once, leaving behind its bleak grey walls, devoid of intent.

A perfect representation of its owner.

“So you chucked it all there?” He could hear the smile in her voice, as if she found the mess amusing. “And here I thought you cleaned up for me.”

‘Why would I do that?’

“Well, I didn’t know you were going to be here,” he said instead, suddenly feeling awkward. “I’m… not used to having women in my bedroom.”

He regretted the words the moment they left his mouth, and the feeling only intensified when Evangeline bursted out laughing. “Hey, stop it! I was joking!”

“Oh, y-yeah,” she said, struggling to speak in between her giggles. “That was definitely a joke.”

When he sat up to glare at her, it only sent her reeling into another feat of laughter – the sound a beautiful, bubbly melody. He felt his chest tighten at the sight – her eyes closed and head tilted back, with a smile that could rid the world from all its darkness.

There was a burning desire inside of him right then. A wish to see her, not only in his dreams, but in his reality.

He found himself whispering out loud, “Who are you?”

That one question seemed to put a stopper on the happiness in the room as the sound of her giggles ceased. 

“I-I mean,” he stammered nervously. “I see you so often in my dreams and all I know is your name. Can’t you tell me more?”

He watched as her expression shifted through millions of emotions, before settling on one of uncertainty. It made his heart hurt, that he was being so vulnerable with her, yet she still seemed reluctant to do the same with him.

There was a pause before she asked, so softly, he almost missed it: “Do you really want to know?”

Their eyes met and something in hers pulled him in.

“Yes,” he breathed.

She stared at him for a few seconds before closing her eyes and jerking her chin in the direction of the boxes.

“Maybe you should look through those again. You might’ve missed something,” was her only comment, her voice sounding distant.

“Wait, what?” he tried to ask, but he felt his voice becoming quieter and his vision started to blur. 

‘No, not yet!’

“What does that mean!” he yelled out as everything began to dissolve from his view. Desperate, he reached out his hand to grab for her, but he couldn’t make it in time before her silhouette faded away.

“You have to remember first.”

Those were the last words he heard before he woke up in reality.

For the past several days, Peter had been rummaging through the boxes – taking out item after item and examining them, trying to understand Evangeline’s parting words.

Sure enough, there were a lot of things he hadn’t noticed before. As he sat on his bedroom floor one evening, shifting through his old rock records, his eyes caught on to a tiny note pasted on one of the covers. The words on the paper were small and slightly cursive, as if the writer took the time to delicately write each letter out for the simple message:

Because you wanted it so much.

It was an album from the Arctic Monkeys which he remembered playing on repeat back then. The note was not signed, but he could assume who it was from and the thought itself made his heart ache in longing. Evangeline hadn’t appeared in his dream since that day, and the loss of her company made him restless. They had spent so many nights together, that it was difficult for him to get through sleep without her. And to think she knew what he liked…

He continued looking through the other albums and realised that a lot of them had similar notes attached.

For you.

I thought you’d like the songs in this.

The guy on the cover reminded me of you, but don’t worry. You look way better.

He couldn’t help but chuckle at the words. 

At the time when he was packing these records, he had been drowning in such intense self-hatred that his only goal was to get them out of his sight. They were reminders to him that he was no longer the same man from before – that the person he once was had died in the collision of vehicles a few months back, and all that was left of him was a void shell, living only because it wasn’t dead yet.

But the most painful part of it all for Peter was knowing that he wasn’t the only one who lost something that day.

His parents lost a son, his siblings lost a brother, and his friends lost an ally. He could see it in the way they looked at him, as if they were interacting with a stranger in the guise of their loved one. Sometimes, at gatherings, he would catch them looking at him with such deep sorrow and longing for the past, he would have to excuse himself early to avoid breaking down in front of the whole crowd.

He had never felt so alone in his life.

But as he stared at the notes littering the records, he could feel the loneliness slowly seeping away, replaced with a warmth that comforted him to his core. There was something special in knowing that there was someone who was so considerate of him back then.

And who still stuck around until now, even if it was only in his dreams.

‘Seriously, Evangeline. You’re still as cheeky as ever.

And just as lovely.’

He got to the last album and the note on it made his heart drop.

Don’t listen to this without me.

It was a record from Kodaline, a vastly different genre from the others in the pile. It made him realise that she had gifted all the other records to him because he liked them, but this one was special to her. 

And he was special enough for her to share it with him.

‘Then come back to me. Just come back.’

“I listened to the album without you.”

It was the first time he saw Evangeline glare at him since they started meeting in his dreams.

They were no longer in his apartment, but a park instead – one that seemed familiar to him but which he couldn’t entirely recall. It was morning in this dream, the greenery around them vibrant under the sun. As they sat on a bench under the shade of a tree, he could see silhouettes of people in the distance – joggers on their morning run, children playing in the playground, an old woman walking her Pomeranian. It struck him how real everything seemed. 

It wasn’t just the environment that had become more tangible. He could feel the warmth of the bench under him, the unevenness of the pavement beneath his feet, and the heat of the sunlight as it grazed his skin. Even Evangeline appeared more present – her form no longer delicate against the light, though some of her features still seemed misty in his view. He wanted to reach out and stroke her hair, just to see if they could make contact, but her cold expression made him suppress the temptation. 

“You what?” Her tone was icy, sending a shiver down Peter’s spine. “Seriously?”

He resisted the urge to lean away and, instead, shrugged his shoulders in what he hoped was a nonchalantly manner. “That’s what you get for leaving me alone for the past few nights.”

Her anger seemed to vanish at the statement, confusion washing over her face. Peter thought she was pretending to be oblivious to his claims, but then he noticed her eyes widened for a brief moment before settling down into neutrality, as if she had a sudden realisation that she wanted to keep a secret. The silence that followed was confirmation enough that she was hiding something.

“What is it?” He asked.

“What is what?” She responded.

He felt irked by that. “You just thought of something. I want you to tell me what it is.”

“Woah, bossy much,” she returned with a mischievous grin that didn’t reach her eyes.

“Get use to it,” he retorted back. “Now stop trying to change the subject and tell me.”

She eyed him warily, contemplating his request. Her discreteness hurt him more than it should have. After reading the notes she left him, Peter believed that she cared about him at the very least.

But that didn’t seem to be the case here.

He couldn’t help but ask, “Is it because I’m different now?”

She seemed caught off-guard by the question.

“I know I’m not how I used to be,” he started, avoiding her eyes. “It’s just… I kind of lost myself after what happened and I don’t think I can ever go back to being the way I was before. If you’re disappointed with me because of that, I get it. I’m messed up now. But I would like for you to be honest with me instead of-

“There’s nothing wrong with you!”

He jolted at the panic in her voice. He looked back up to see that she had moved closer to him, her hand placed closely beside his on the seat – as if at any moment now she would reach out and hold it to comfort him. But she remained where she was, her expression filled with despair.

“You aren’t any less great of a person than you were before, alright? God, was this what you were thinking of all this time…” her voice quivered, as if his words broke her heart. He wanted to take it all back if it meant she wouldn’t look so distraught, but he didn’t know how.

They sat there in silence, both unsure of how to continue. Peter was worried the dream would end just like that, and she might not be there the next time for him to make up for this.

“You lost everything,” she suddenly spoke, startling him out of his thoughts. “And you deserve to know.

But I can’t tell you. You have to remember.”

“Remember? What am I supposed to remember?” He asked hopelessly. “I read your notes, but I couldn’t figure out what they mean. Was there a secret message in them or something?”

His confusion seemed to amuse her as she finally smiled again. “Dummy. It’s not some kind of code. It’s just… do you think I would give you all those records if you were just anybody to me?”


‘Wait, does she mean…’

“Were we…” he found the word hard to say. “Lovers?”

Her smile widened just a fraction. “Close. So close.”

“Close?” he asked, at the same time, he felt a familiar wave of dizziness hit him. “Wait! Please, don’t go yet! Tell me what you mean-”

“You have to remember.”

He couldn’t get anything out before his vision blurred to nothingness.

And he woke up once again, breathless.

The day passed by like a daze to him. He tried to watch his favourite television show and cook himself breakfast to distract himself from the very real, vivid impression that the night’s dream had on him. They were lovers, or something close. Yet, he couldn’t find any traces of her in his apartment – no pictures, no ring. It was a clue that led to another dead end, the same with the notes.

The dreams were becoming more real too, no longer just a vague, fuzziness in his head. He can feel the impact of things he did, every step taken and senses touched, the stab of emotions right into his gut, the warmth he felt spurred in his chest everytime he gazed upon a place so achingly familiar, yet so shrouded in mystery. It reminded him of the feeling of the word nostalgia, a feeling that was so warm yet so inexplicably painful. 

And he could see her become more clear each day.

When neither cooking nor watching his favourite show successfully distracted his thoughts, he decided to go on a drive. To go anywhere, far away from his room, and the confines of his apartment. 

The afternoon sky was a warm, inviting blue as he drove to the outskirts of the city. There were boulevards and stalls lined on the beach he always loved to frequent. He felt the urge to call his therapist and say he was doing alright now, the sun was out and life was good. Yet he didn’t know why he felt like something was missing from the moment. It was picture perfect; the white sandy beach, the glistening coast, the children playing with the sand, their parents chatting and laughing together, the radiance of the Sun so suffused with life and warmth gracing his skin so gently. Why was it that something felt missing from the moment, so inexplicably removed like a missing puzzle piece or a splash of blood in an otherwise idyllic meadow? 

He left the beach in the late afternoon, driving aimlessly around the city till he found an upscale looking Mexican food place somewhere amidst a strip of gentrified looking stores. The decoration was sleek and modern, obviously meant for people to take pictures and pose in front of. He couldn’t care less as he dug into his burrito which he paid far too much for, trying to glean any enjoyment from it, but finding himself once again frustratingly unable to relish any strain of flavour. 

It was a quiet drive home as he thought about all the clues Evangeline had given him – the records, the notes, the confession. He could feel that the answer was just within his reach, yet it seemed he was missing something very crucial that would piece everything together. Something that was inside his memory but inaccessible to him. He tried to suppress the insanity threatening to rise to the surface at his incompetence.

When he arrived home, he slumped down onto his couch and turned the television on, trying to lose himself in something, anything to distract him from that strange lightheaded feeling in his head. Like something’s being purposefully hidden from him, and he’s as powerless as ever to rip away that gauze. When the episode just became a string of scenes put together it seemed in an editing blender, he switched the television off and went to bed early for the night. 

Sleep came faster than he expected. 

She’s there again. She’s clearer now, a person, no longer a ghost. Piercing through the newfound clarity, he can discern a smile, a perfect set of teeth staring at him. Only now can he see her face in full detail, staring at him the way an angel might look at a person on the verge of death; radiant, hazy, achingly beautiful. 


She takes a step closer, and he immediately notices so many things he hadn’t before, like the way her hair falls down on her shoulder when she walks, the many freckles scattered on her cheeks like stars and the almost imperceptible way her gaze softens when it regards him. He can almost feel his heart stop, he could’ve sworn he had those exact features engraved in his mind at one point, and only now were the details returning in waves upon waves. 


His hands slowly extend, reaching out to her. She doesn’t move, he can’t feel anything. 

Their gazes meet imperceptibly, regarding the other slowly. His fingers twitching and curling around air, perhaps hoping that if he kept clawing he would turn up with something eventually; gold maybe, ivory, skin. She merely stood, unmoving, still yet radiant like the statue of an angel. Was she one? He couldn’t think of anything else, except how beautiful and close yet seemingly far away she always seemed. She was like a dream, he felt, a crush you only knew in proximity, but never in the profundity of their heart or soul. 

“Why do you keep leading me to all these dead ends?” 

She gave a coy smile, as if sensing he was close to the answer. “Well, you need to remember first right?”

“You keep saying that, but what is it I have to remember? I feel like I’ve ran in circles everywhere trying to find you. And still, even now you can’t give me a proper answer.” 

“It’s always been here, Pete. The answer, you’ve known it all along.” 

“If I know it, why can’t I remember?! I’ve tried, ok. I’ve tried over and over, and I’m never any closer to anything, I don’t even feel any closer to you than when we first met. I lost everything, you said that, and I can’t possibly get any of it back now. So why can’t you just tell me what it is? If you loved me, you would’ve told me, wouldn’t you? Right??” 

He sank to his knees, the tears running down his cheeks like the streak of a comet that’s already charted its worn path many times before. His hands unconsciously clasped into a prayer – one he did not even have a name for – what was he praying to? A clue, a sign, a star?

“You know I can’t, Pete . That’s something only you yourself can find out.” There was a pensive trace in her eyes as they stared at each other from such different vantage points, such different worlds. 

“You’re always like this…you never tell me anything. Am I not worthy of your love? Did I do something wrong? I’m sorry… I just want to know who you are, I want to know what you meant to me once. I want to remember you. Evangeline. We don’t have to keep meeting in these dreams, we could meet each other in the world beyond. We could talk somewhere nice, go on a walk together, I could even hold your– we can throw away this veil together, and finally see each other — eye to eye, heart to heart. I can finally get to know you, Evangeline, and you can get to know me.”

He stared at her face, the lips greeting him all the same; uplifting yet vaguely funereal. Never spelling the answer he was so desperately seeking. If anything, the gulf between them only seemed to grow wider. 

“Come, follow me.”

He took a step closer, and instantly the scene shifted. The white background of his dreams melted into a dark void, before shifting yet again into a vaguely familiar landscape. They were standing on what appeared to be the shoulder of a dirt road, with a drop that overlooked the city below. He stared, lost in its profundity for a moment. He could see the edges of the city he grew up in, the grey periphery of his life, small enough to fit in his palm. 

“Does this place look familiar?” 

He paused, closed his eyes, trying to remember. He had been here before, he knew this place well, it was special to him. 

“…did we meet here?” 

“Why don’t you search for the answer here yourself?” 

She pointed to a sign by the roadside, it read: “You are at: Lantern Hill”. 

“Thank you, thank you so much.” He smiled, almost laughed. He tried to take her hands but, like always, they never met. 

“You know I’m not the one giving you the answers. You’re piecing them together yourself. And look, you’re nearly at the end now.” 

“But thank you, regardless. I mean, if it weren’t for you being here, we would never have met again right?” He let out a relieved chuckle

The girl said nothing, her smile inscrutable as always. But she seemed a little sad, as if they were rapidly approaching the climax of a movie neither of them wanted to end. He couldn’t fathom why, wasn’t the whole point of this chase for them to finally meet? Why did she always seem so mysterious, so faraway, unreachable? Why was there always this great distance between them that seemed uncrossable, even though he was always the one trying to bridge that gap, while strangely she seemed content to stay where she was, her porcelain figure never moving, she always smiling her little mysterious smile, as if she was acutely aware of a joke he wasn’t in on. Even in dreams, when they were standing face to face, it didn’t really feel like they were meeting at all. 

“You know, you used to say those words to me.” 


“Those exact words, ‘eye to eye, heart to heart’.” 

“…did it mean something to you?” 

She said nothing for a while, just casting her gaze to some distant horizon, always looking at a world so far away from him. 

“Meet me at Lantern Hill.” She spoke slowly, her stare lost in that other world. 

“Hope to see you there too.” 

And just like that, he awoke to that same bleak ceiling. Resolute, he knew what he had to do. 

He got in the car and drove, further and further away from home, glancing at his phone for directions. The afternoon sun was nude and limpid, descending on the world in a haze. He couldn’t untangle that skein of emotions that had formed in his chest. This was it, this was the end. 

It was a painfully slow forty five minute drive from his house to the place. All the while, he felt that he had his foot fixed on the accelerator pedal, barely taking it off as he weaved precariously in between traffic.

Time seemed unreal as he neared his destination, he felt he could’ve been on the road for a second or a hazy sunlit eternity. 

As the lookout gradually came into view, he released a breath he hadn’t realised was wound up in his throat. He passed by the sign he had seen in his dreams: “You are at: Lantern Hill”. 

He pulled up and parked his car by the dirt shoulder, killing the engine with a twist of the key and a final splutter of carbon. 

The view outside was as he remembered it: impossibly vast swathes of land spread out below him, the entire city contained in an ever expanding cusp of hills and greenery, suspended so finely it seemed between earth and the blue sky. He stared, momentarily lost, at the city he’d grown up in, one that he had no memories of; lying cusped like a brilliant jewel in the hollow of a hand. 

“Do you remember now?” 

He heard a voice call out from somewhere far-off, as if whisked along by the streams of time. Closing his eyes, he listened. To the wind, the sounds of nature, the echoes of the city, the cold silence of his own heart. He wanted to be rid of the shadows, to throw open the veil and see for himself what laid behind it. It was always so tantalisingly close, suspended coyly at the tips of his fingers, like dust, powdered gold, matter, lies, a truth. A truth, absolute. He knew it was the truth, they were here before. The girl in his dreams and him sitting on a felled tree trunk, their legs swinging lazily, shoulders touching. They sat, overlooking the city, shrouded in an orange haze. The city itself seemed reborn under the darkened sky, lit office windows shining like pinpricks in an indifferent world, the slow crawl of rush hour reduced to indistinguishable orbs of light inching through endlessly sprawling streets, monolithic skylines just grey concrete slabs in the cold mid september night. 

She bumped her shoulder against his, a little harder than the last, smiling. 

“Hey, you seemed a little lost.”

He turned to look at her, about to retort with something snarky, until her expression silenced the words in his throat. The light painted her face like a shifting portrait of art, every detail surreally clear, every feature arranged like a jigsaw completed, each piece finally in its place. Even though she was sitting right before him in that moment, occupying that space between them with so much warmth and realness, she was ethereal — a being suspended so finely between the real and the imagined — hazy like a mirage at sunset, dreamlike in the brushstrokes, incorporeal like an angel limned with the last strokes of dusk. 

He cleared his throat awkwardly, finally able to pull away his gaze after much struggle. “W-wow, look at the stars. Aren’t they really beautiful tonight?” 

She followed his gaze to the vivid canvas of the evening sky, truly enough the stars were there and they were numerous and clear above the blanket of smog that always enveloped the city. Secretly, he had brought her there to see the stars — because yes they were nerds who were both very much into horoscopes and astrology — but also to ask her a very important question. 

“You’re right. We can see them from here.” Her smile softened, leaning against him.  

He swallowed the question that had nearly forced its way into words, oddly content with the silence.

Feeling their legs pressed against one another’s, so warmed by the closeness of her presence, the soft intimacy of simply being there with her, in that very moment. It was like magic, he knew, he would never forget this moment. 

“C’mon spill it! You’ve been acting distant today, you’re never usually this quiet. I know you when you have something on your mind, you tend to stay quiet.” 

She gazed at him imploringly, the distance between them small enough for him to feel the warmth of her closeness. It enveloped him whole, leaving him wanting nothing more than to be fully, utterly consumed by this feeling, for him to wake up to this feeling everyday in a haze of sunlight and linen.

The moment seemed to drag on, as he felt his heart trembling from the weight of all the devotion, terror, shame rooted so deeply in it. He felt he hadn’t prepared at all for the moment to arrive so soon, and so suddenly too not in a rush of sparks and flowerbuds as he had hoped, but rather in a slow dreadful crawl.

Finally, as the fear settled, he quelled the shakiness in his breath and mustered the courage to meet her gaze, and ask the question, his heartbeat not missing a single moment. 

“Will you marry me?” 

Her expression, painted red by the soft glow of the setting sun, stared at him with widened eyes. He felt himself cringe, he must’ve said it wrongly somehow, because she seemed uncharacteristically at a loss for words. Did he rush into it — they’d been dating for five years now — she wanted the same things as him, they were both serious about starting a family, and he couldn’t imagine living the rest of his life without her. And if there was one thing he was most certain of in the world was that she shared those same ideals too. 

“I-I’m sorry, you don’t have to say yes now, if you don’t feel ready-

“Yes, yes I am. Sorry, I think I left you hanging for a while. But no, yeah, I feel the same way too…about marriage.” 

“Wait, seriously?” He blinked 

“Y-yes! God, you’re so slow. Yes, I would love to share the rest of my life with you. Really.” 

He touched her hand, felt it, as if in a daze. She had said yes. They were going to get married. It didn’t feel real at all. 

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t buy you a ring. This was kinda just a heat of the moment thing. I’ll get you one though, anything you want.” 

“Yes, that’ll come later. But you’re sure you’re ready to commit to this?” 

“I have, for the longest time, Evangeline. I…I was always scared to ask, because I know you want to live your life for yourself, and not for others. And even when we get married, I don’t want you to live for me, or anyone else, I just want you to be happy wherever you go or whatever you do.” 

She held onto his hand, leaning in closer. “I think I’ll always be happy with you.” 

The two lovers kissed, their frames interlocked, their bodies bathed in dusk. He beheld the spectacle of their love, reweaving the threads of time that had been held together in that very spot, undoing the loom, as if it were just magic. He watched, observed how their kiss had reformed the landscape and moulded it into something eternal. No matter how many lovers come together and break apart at that very spot, he’s convinced theirs would linger forever, a legend ghosting off into the warm dusky summer. He watched them, in those last dying breaths of sunlight, sitting together on a fallen tree trunk, laughing together to some unheard joke. 

But he knew how it ended. 

The scenery shifted and it was broad daylight again. He was standing, underneath the harsh glow of the afternoon sun, with not a soul around him. They had disappeared and the fallen tree trunk was gone. They removed it months ago because the bark started rotting when the local thermite population began invading it. He was truly alone, overlooking a city that does not remember him, surrounded by the ghost of a love that once belonged to him. 

He reached out, hands meeting nothing. Of course, they wouldn’t. All of that happened six months ago. He remembered now, everything happened too quickly, the remembering, the forgetting, her. She was dead. The car crash, the brutal impact that left his hippocampus irreversibly damaged, the months-long stay at the hospital, the doctors eyeing him inscrutably and writing down notes on their clipboards, the days spent wondering why it felt as if something was missing. He didn’t remember the funeral, he had been in a coma for weeks by then, when he had awoken some days later as a medical miracle, no one said anything, he didn’t ask either; he couldn’t even remember his own name. 

He didn’t just lose himself that day, he lost her too. 

Of course she was dead, he almost felt like laughing. There was something cruel about him remembering what happened at the very spot they inextricably linked their souls, naively, foolishly, thinking perhaps for the rest of their lives. And it was all gone now, like their laughter spent in the night air, the warmth of that summer night damp on their skin, their rosied dreams for the future, the ring he never got to put on her finger. He thought he heard the distant tune of their love, singing from some unseen place, yearnful and incomplete. He thinks he’ll always hear its haunting melody; in the pauses, the silences, the gaps, those quiet moments where there should’ve been something, a soft birdsong rising from yonder, mourning what could’ve been. 

The sun sunk into an early evening crawl as he remained where he stood, simply remembering everything. 

Late evening rush hour felt unusually long, as he found his attention diverting from the road and the sea of cars around him to a far-off memory. They were sitting in a car like this one, the red bumper lights painting their faces in bloodied streaks and half-shadows, hands clasped. She was drifting off into sleep, as the radio played some gushy love song from the eighties, one of those songs you’d play on a night walk after a gruelling breakup. He thought to himself at the time, as he hummed along to the tune, how nice it is to know that he would never have to feel the ache of that for himself. 

The rest of the day blurred together as he microwaved his dinner and sat, eating it, in empty silence. He sat down in the living room to watch a few episodes of his favourite tv show until he remembered how he used to do the same with her, and promptly turned the tv off. He went to bed, expecting nothing. However, his eyes opened to a vastly different scene that night. The sky was white, void of clouds or any flecks of colour, a plane bereft of life. He looked around, unsure of where he was, he had never been to this place before. The scenery did not shift as he walked around, searching for her. It was unnervingly quiet, as if he were walking through a vacuum, the only sounds existing being the sounds of his muffled footsteps and his rapidly beating heart. 

His confusion slowly turned to desperation, as he quickened his pace, trying to find an exit from this blank noiseless void. The light, at first soothing, started to accost his eyes as he ran, the scenery never changing, the silence trailing on for miles, uninterrupted. 

That was when he felt something warm spur in his chest. It was a comfortable feeling, like a weighted blanket or a toasty hearth. He slowed his pace to a stop, casting his gaze around for the source of his newfound clarity, before eventually hearing it. 



He saw her figure approaching from a distance. Overjoyed, he ran to meet her. The scenery around him shifted all the while, a landscape of endlessly changing vignettes — scenes from a past life — from white sandy beaches to quiet cozy cafes, every place they’d ever been to together. 

For the first time, his touch met skin. He enveloped her in an embrace, along with an outpouring of emotions that came spilling out, in a haze of tears. He longed to just feel the warmth of her closeness once again. He longed to hold her and feel her nestled in his arms the way she always used to do with him. He forgot, he truly forgot, how much he missed that feeling. 

“Evangeline, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t k-know, I thought that…I forgot you. I completely forgot who you were. How could I — I don’t know how I…I’d ever forget you.” His voice trembled uncontrollably, hot tears spilling down his face, words slurring into a guttural sob. 

“Pete…I missed you.” She rested her face on his chest, frame shaking slightly 

“I’m so sorry. We never got to get married…I-I didn’t even get to attend your funeral.” He couldn’t bring himself to look at her, as he felt her battered body in his hands, he was convinced he would never be able to meet her gaze again. 

“Pete, it wasn’t your fault. It was…just life I dunno.” She let out a laugh, but it was so brutalised by the racket of sobs in her throat that it sounded out more like a croak. “It was just life. But, we just have to move on, right?” 

“I’ll bring you back somehow. If it’s the last thing I do.” 

“Peter, no you can’t. You know better.” 


“Peter, listen to me. We won’t meet here anymore. Now that you’ve remembered me, I can’t exist here anymore.” 

“But, why? I only just met you, Evangeline. I’m not letting you go.” 

“Peter, you can’t. It doesn’t work that way-” 

“I’m not letting you leave. I’m not, you hear me?” He tightened his hold on her. “I swear I’m getting you out of this place!”

“But I’m not really here. I don’t exist anywhere, I’m just a figment of your brain, your thoughts, your memory. Another strain of a person in your memory soup, just a face from a past life you remember enough to form in your mind, but that’s all I am, a simulacra, her face and her voice, but I’m not really her. And now that you remember her, I can’t be here anymore. I’ve served my purpose.” 

He looked at her, the words dry in his throat. He was suddenly aware of how harsh the light of the sky was, and how it seemed to bear down on his eyes like a shroud of white. “Wait, are you saying.…you’re not actually…” 

“No, Pete, I’m not. Evangeline’s dead. ” 

And just like that, he felt the illusion come apart. He wasn’t meeting her in some spirit realm, or some strange afterlife — his brain has just been maintaining the illusion of mystery, trying desperately to get him to remember her; the face of his dreams, the girl he had promised his future to, hand in hand. Though he knows now, with crushing realisation, reality is bitter, he’s never left his own head the whole time. Those few days he didn’t meet her in his dreams, those were the realest days he’s ever had.

“Wait— but you’re so real. How…all of this can’t be an illusion, right?” 

“I’m only as real as you remember me.” Again, that sad smile, she knew it all along. Or rather he did. 

“Evangeline…” He didn’t know what else to say, her name the first and only word rising to his lips. 

“You need to move on. You’re chasing a ghost. She’s never coming back and you know it.” 

He said nothing, feeling the softness of her hair, trying to discern the unreality of it. 

“You need to live, Peter. For her.” 

He met her eyes, warm hazel like the richest shade of coffee, he wondered how long had he dreamed of her eyes to have recreated it so perfectly in his own head. 

“What does that even mean?” 

“Don’t be scared. You know she wouldn’t want you to live like this, half of yourself without her.” 

“But, I am. I’m so scared. She would’ve laughed at me right now, I just know. But the truth is I don’t know what life would be like without her.” 

“Well, you’ll need to discover that for yourself. We need to live for ourselves, that’s what she always said right?” 

“Yeah…she always believed in that.”

“Then, believe in it. Believe for her, but live for yourself. It’s a scary path, terrifying at times, but you’ll have to walk it someday. We can’t look at stars here. Life waits for no one, Pete.” 

He bowed his head, feeling the whiteness take over his senses, bleeding into his view of her. He had to wake up soon, she was well and truly gone. 

“It’s…just unfair, why did life have to choose you, why couldn’t it have been me instead? You had everything…your whole life ahead of you, and now you’re gone. And I’m the one who’s left to mourn the fact that you never got to see any of it happen. All of its gone now, everything. A life of flowers and wine, watching and dreaming, the daisies I never gifted you and the lilies you’ll never get to put on my grave. Remember how we used to talk about all that stuff? How am I supposed to carry on like this, knowing it was all ours once? How will I ever get past the fact that I lost you, Evangeline.”

He felt his knees falter, slowly being brought to the ground, like worship to a dead God, or a religion he no longer felt placated by. It crushed him, like a tightness in his windpipe he couldn’t dispel, he was simply left to stare at the ruins of a faith that’s been so utterly decimated in a storm. 

“Peter, there are just some things beyond our control.” 

He felt a warm sensation grace his shoulder, her hand placed on it like a priest baptising a believer. She stood taller than anything else, she may as well have been the whole world in that moment. 

“It was unfortunate Evangeline passed away in that crash, but you’re still here. Don’t ever diminish your being here as anything less than a miracle. Cherish the fact that you still eat and dream and mourn, cherish those memories and experiences you shared with her, no matter how brief or painful, and cherish the fact that you can still feel, that you remember her, you are alive. So live.” 

“Evangeline…” He felt his heart seized by an overwhelmingly painful feeling, as if it were being squished by the absolute truth of something so vastly cosmic and bigger than him. 

“Don’t say her name. You know she’s never coming back.” 


The Evangeline of his dreams took his hands, suffusing it with that dreamy feeling of warmth. It felt too real to be a dream, but he knew better now, it was just a bunch of synapses firing all at once. Her touch was not real, but just the movement of signals between his neurons, a feeling once physical and holy reduced to a perfunctory task of biology. 

“I will always love you. Wherever you may be, wherever I go, I’ll be waiting for you, somewhere we can see the stars. Wait for me, Evangeline. Wait for me, I’ll be there.” 

He unleashed his last breath, before feeling his senses completely overcome with the light of the outside world, though he could’ve sworn before his dream ended, he saw her smiling at him, mouthing the word: 


Written By: Zi Yi & Kay Lynn

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