From whence came the deep darkness in her soul?
Aleena tried so hard to remember when the yearning and hunger for deep darkness gathered in her soul. For the last few months, dreams led her into dark passages and chambers. She seemed to be seeking, and wondered for what. What drew her into such a strange place?
Vague memories of great sorrow plagued her often and that is when she felt darkness all around her. On her days off Aleena liked to be outside as much as possible. Fresh air and sunlight always cheered her up. When craft and art fairs were held at the park she always attended. Yet, invariably she found herself seeking, for what she knew not, and would go home feeling a loss of something important.
The art gallery downtown had a new exhibition every Friday evening. She appreciated all art forms, as did her friend, Becky. They decided to have dinner at a small Italian restaurant after work then check out the gallery’s new show. During dinner, Aleena told Becky about the dreams she had been having and the longing for something as she entered deep darkness. Becky showed keen interest. “Wow! That sounds like a past life recall to me.” Aleena poured them both more wine. “You think? That has not occurred to me, but, it does make sense, because it seems so real and I know a lot is missing in these dreams.”
“Well, something will clear it up for you, Aleena. You may see or hear something that will bring out more memories.” They had a lot in common and a conversation on reincarnation often came up between them.
Alistaire met Aleena and Becky when they entered the gallery. “Aleena, how wonderful to see my favorite patron of the arts,” he kissed her on both cheeks. “And who is this other charming lady you must introduce me to?” Alistaire was so charming himself that many women fell in love with him immediately. He reached for Becky’s hand and bent to kiss it. Becky flushed crimson. She had never met such a man and felt wonderful when he pulled her hand to his arm as if he would never let go.
“I will introduce you lovely ladies to our magnificent artist tonight, then I will leave you with him, Aleena, while I show Becky my gallery. Aleena, my dear,” he waved his hand delicately at her. “You are going to love Jared’s paintings and I know the two of you will get along famously. I simply adore his works, and him. I have been anxiously waiting to bring the two of you together. Don’t for sure know why, just a feeling I have, and you know how intuitive I am, my dear.” Alistaire chattered constantly as they searched for Jared. Aleena was used to this and felt good being with him. Becky was mesmerized with him. “Ah! Here is our star of the evening. Jared Gardoene, may I present Aleena Marstein and Becky Johnston to you. I am so thrilled to have you here with your marvelous paintings, Jared, as you well know, and we must all get together after the show for a late cocktail and chatting. I will leave the two of you to get acquainted while I give Becky a tour of the gallery. You two enjoy the evening. Catch up with you later,” he put his hand on Becky’s and they walked away, smiling at each other.
Jared laughed softly. “Looks like Alistaire has met the woman of his dreams.” Aleena watched the couple leaving. “You may be right, Jared. I have never seen him so enamored with anyone else like that, and Becky is enthralled with him.”
Jared guided her around to his paintings, explaining the inspiration and creation of each one. His landscapes were beautiful and Aleena was so impressed with his portraits of women. They all looked like the same woman in different scenes, moods and soft colors. In each one there was a far away, melancholy look in her eyes, as if she was remembering something. Aleena felt very drawn to her with a nostalgic familliarity. When she told Jared how it made her feel he looked surprised. “You are the first one to describe her like that,” he hesitated a moment, in deep thought as he studied one of the portraits. “She is not a model, rather she is from my dreams, and I simply cannot get her off my mind. She seems to be a part of me,” he turned to smile at Aleena and stared at her in shock as she stared at the portrait with the same melancholy look in her eyes. For several seconds they both seemed to be in another place, another time. Jared felt shaken to the core. This is the same woman, I can see it, feel it deeply. She has come from my dreams and is standing right here before me, looking at her own image.
When Aleena turned to look at him, her eyes were looking deep into the past. And suddenly, her own dreams made some sense. Then her eyes cleared from seeing the past and focused on Jared’s face, they both gazed deeply into each other’s eyes and could not speak for what seemed like a life time.
Jared spoke first, “Do you feel it, Aleena?” A tear rolled down her cheek. “I do, Jared, I do.” He took her hand and gently pulled her to the next exhibition. “I want to show you my deep darkness, the side of me that has searched for her, for you, for many years. Come see,” he raised his other arm and with palm up slowly moved it as if touching several paintings in a long stroke. Aleena was stunned as she stared at her dreams. They were all dark passages and chambers, with a woman walking through the darkness, searching.
Aleena felt faint and Jared led her to a sofa to sit down. He sat across from her on another sofa and reached for his drawing pad and a pencil. They did not speak as he drew. She leaned back and gazed at him with a look of love and joy. He tore the sketch off the tablet and handed it to her. He had drawn Aleena, and in the background he drew the woman in his portraits. Except for the hairstyles, the drawings were of the same woman. He then sketched her in a dark passage with a lot of light at the end, and himself standing there, holding out his hand to her.
© 2018 Phyllis Doyle Burns
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
– Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828 – 1882
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