AC: i keep having these dreams
AC: two different ones, or at least only two that i can remember
AC: just the same two, over and over and over
GG: what happens?
AC: i die
CC: No way...
CC: Me too!
CC: That's so weird!
CC: What about you, Jade?
GG: same here
GG: i never had these dreams before...
GG: but now i see them all the time! :o
AC: oh wow
AC: im glad im not the only one! :3
CC: How exciting!
GG: hehe i guess it is
GG: i wonder what they mean
Feferi was a blur of red hair and wheels, pedaling with strong legs through ocean-breezed streets she knew by heart. She had barely been able to contain her excitement during Comparative Politics and had been furiously tapping on her phone under her desk, shaking her leg to distract some energy. As soon as the professor had wrapped up her lecture, Feferi had dashed out of the hall, zipping up her messenger bag as she ran, shouting chipper excuse me's! and pardon me's! to part the sea of students.
For days she had seen things that no being on Earth could ever imagine. Not just seen, not even dreamed, but remembered, she knew in the very core of her being that these were memories of things long past, of hate and love and purpose, all swirling unseen until unconsciousness. She had kept these recurrences to herself, but no longer! Her roommates dreamed such strange things too, and she knew that it meant something, that there was a reason, for this, and she couldn't wait to figure it out.
She had never pedaled so fast in her life and the wind in her hair was warm with summer mist and sun, perfect on her arms; she could not think of a better day for revelations.
When the key of her u-lock refused to turn once, twice, three freaking times she nearly threw it to the ground in a huff to leave it there, but then it slipped and she locked her sticker-covered speed bike to the rack, hands shaking. She jumped to snatch an orange from the tree shading the bicycles (one every time, for good luck) and let out a cry that tapered into a giggle when she splashed in a pool of water from the broken irrigation system; it was cold and refreshing, seeping over her toes and soaking her flip-flops. She nearly flew to the staircase of the charming old apartment complex and panted with energy as she rose to the fourth floor.
"Hiiiii!" she cheered as she burst through the door to the apartment and cackled at the startled looks on her two loves' faces. "So tell me about your dreams!"
"Feferi, you're tracking mud everywhere!" Jade said with a grin and caught the bag flung at her. Nepeta caught the orange and the distress around her eyes disappeared.
"Tell me you saw a planet," Feferi said in a fervent breath and Nepeta's eyes went wide as more misted dreams became clearer. She waited, looked once at Jade who's lips were parted in anticipation, and then back to the ginger girl radiating with life.
"And what else?"
"And animals, big and ferocious, like our animals, only... only bigger!" she explained and her eyes were glued to Feferi, who had hastily wiped off her legs with an old jacket and was walking, gliding, into the living room. "Like... Feferi, I saw dragons! And centaurs, and giant spiders, and-"
"And flying seahorses and mermaid-goats. And a dog with wings."
"Oh fuck..." Jade whispered and Feferi looked at her and started nodding, egging her on.
"You saw it too."
Jade tossed Feferi's bag aside and rubbed at her eyes, whispering oh my god to herself quietly. Nepeta shook her head and stared at the orange.
"We... we saw the same things," she whispered and Feferi sucked in a deep breath.
"We are connected," she hissed out and an almost vicious tear of a smile spread across her face, as if a superstition had been confirmed. This was a ghost sighting, this was a campfire horror story and the witnesses were not alone. Feferi held out her hands and her mouth opened to recite a spell. "We are misfits on this planet, but we are not alone. I have always felt that there was something else, something more and I know, I fucking know you two feel that way too! It's why we live together, it's why we love each other. Our dreams, they are beads on a single thread and today is the the day we pull it!"
Jade and Nepeta stared unblinking, glancing at each other only once (but it was a long look, seeking comfort, finding epiphany).
"Tell me your dreams," Feferi continued, softer. She looked from girl to girl, licked her lips. "Confirm my suspicions. Indulge me. I'm greedy."
"Paint, I need paint," Nepeta gasped with widening, red-streaking eyes wet with tears of sadness, joy, confusion, bewilderment, love and need and hope. Almond shaped and green, green as deciduous forest leaves in April, glistening with rain; she must have seen God, or at the very least its ghost. Feferi gathered her in her arms and nuzzled her hair as she tried to focus on breathing, clawing softly at Feferi's forearms. Feferi smiled and giggled, a breathy and beautiful sound that made Nepeta move to kiss the laughter out of her, to swallow the second-hand cheer. They looked like mother and child, like sisters, like lovers to Jade and she had to swallow twice before she was able to speak.
"What kind?" Jade said and Nepeta reached out for her, pulling her close to whisper in her ear, tempera, tempera, in every color, and goosebumps rose on Jade's arms at the sound of Nepeta's huffing determination. They had been close, but not this close. She had seen Nepeta unclothed, but she had never ever seen her this naked. The taller girls held Nepeta between them gently, cocooning her in comfort and her tears spilled and then she pushed away, stumbling to find surfaces, canvases of any kind. Feferi grabbed Jade's hand and they fled, racing to the art supply store before Nepeta lost her patience and started using any other pigment she could find, like food dye or her own blood.
"What does she need paint for?" Jade called out as they ran down the street and Feferi laughed at the world, squeezing Jade's hand so tight.
They ran back with plastic bags full of the entire spectrum, heavy with water, taking the stairs two at a time. Jade could see glitter-streaks of sweat on the backs of Feferi's knees, small patches of dampness at the small of her spine; brilliantly colored clothes wet with summer. Feferi seemed to dance as she ascended the staircase, hardened muscles twisting with movement, auburn hair whipping around over her freckled shoulders. She was a nymph dashing through an urban forest. Jade felt breathless.
The apartment floor was covered haphazardly in plastic and there were some gessoed canvases propped up, but not many. Instead, Nepeta was taking things off of the walls, stacking them on the kitchen table and the TV stand. She had rolled up her jeans and pushed her hair back with a headband. The windows had all been flung open and the breeze fluttered the loose pages in the living room, fluttered her hair. She didn't say a word as Jade and Feferi entered. She jumped over to them and grabbed a bottle of robin's egg blue, ripped the seal off with her teeth, poured it over her hands, and hopped up onto a kitchen chair, smearing her palms along the living room wall by the ceiling.
Jade started opening the rest of the paints one by one and Feferi ran to the kitchen to grab bowls and plates and cups, all of them mismatched, thrift-store finds that stacked precariously in the peeling cabinets. A faint and ethereal sound (piano keys, sweet and melodic) drifted in through the open windows from an apartment somewhere in the same complex. Feferi started to hum along, spinning, flitting back into the living room that Nepeta was turning into a dream. As she arranged the dinnerware on the plastic, Jade knelt down, waiting, and then
there was a moon.
"Remember, try to remember," Feferi said, staring at Jade as if she knew a secret. She was so pretty, so strong and folkloric, and her eyes were so big. She grinned and Jade could have sworn her teeth were sharp.
"Purple, I need-"
Nepeta's hands were shaking. She looked frantic and overcome with purpose, possessed almost. With every new color Feferi handed her, she become more and more a part of the painting herself, wiping the excess on her thighs; when she brushed away stray hairs with the back of her wrist, it left a light and mottled streak on her jaw. She was a barefooted storyteller in ripped denim. Up on the old wooden chair, she was creating a myth.
"I remember a great white sea creature, as big as a dozen football fields, as big as a city!" Feferi said and spun with her arms splayed out. Her skirts fluttered around her legs like ripples in a green lake. "Her voice was loud and beautiful, like an underwater opera that only I could understand."
And then streaks of pale tentacles oozed along the wall, low to the ground where Nepeta had hopped down to kneel with a face knit in fierce concentration.
"And I remember bubbles, hundreds of them! Big and small and shiny, made of memories instead of soap," Feferi said and Jade whipped around to stare at her.
"Bubbles?" she breathed.
"A black ocean full of them!"
"I remember bubbles too," Jade said and Feferi squealed in delight running over to kiss Jade's cheeks. Jade nearly screamed, but somehow found herself kissing desperately back, afraid for her life, but feeling alive. When Feferi took her face in her hands, Jade whispered, "You made them."
"I remember a world made of colorful glass that sparkled like gemstones," Feferi continued and smoothed Jade's away from her temple. "I remember dark fantastical creatures of every size, all trying to speak to me at once."
She was petrifying in this moment, speaking of nightmares with a wondrous smile. She held Jade so gently and lovingly, like she was made of something fragile, but Jade felt something rise up in her that said differently. Feferi was trustworthy, she knew that, she was her best friend and steadfast, but she was also dangerous and bright. Her long and feminine lashes framed ice-sharp eyes; she was an empress dressed in second-hand clothes. Her skin, covered in star maps of dark freckles, flushed an excited pink. She looked at Jade as if she knew her, knew her, more deeply than the years they had spent in this life.
Yes. Yes, this life, because all three of them had dreamed (remembered) another.
Nepeta scrambled to her feet and grabbed a bowl of blood red and a plate of cobalt blue, moving to another wall. The one she left was coated in a wash of fantasy, of purple and yellow and green and pink moons, of trees with salmon leaves, of tea colored skies, of bone-white creatures. Feferi's ocean beast covered a third of the wall, surrounded by murky clouds of watery colors, and off to the other side was a massive, lithe cat with two mouths, both open in a silent roar.
"Jade," Feferi said and pulled her closer to the mural. "Jade, look..."
"It's pretty," she said, hopelessly.
"What else did you see?"
"I saw..." and Jade turned to look at the other wall, smeared with hieroglyphs in colors and shadows of human-like figures that struck a chord deep within Jade. They resonated, and her stomach was a thick piano wire, struck with the mallet of distant music in the air and tuned by the lever of Nepeta's hands. "So many things!"
"Clouds. Stars. Universes! I saw... I saw things die and saw them born again," she said and watched Nepeta's arms tense in motive. The strokes formed symbols, ancient looking and alien, syntactical nonsense to her, but... it meant something. She could tell, somehow. She had seen them before, somewhere. Elsewhere. Elsewhen. "I saw myself burned by red fires. Then I saw myself rise up, oh my god."
Nepeta turned and wiped her hands on her tank top, staring. She was panting and her olive skin was smeared with every color. Slight, just brushing five-foot-three, but her shadow, her, her, her aura was that of a towering, kind monster, claws dripping with blood, no, hands with paint, with paint. After an electric moment, she bent down to dip her fingers in acid green and walked to Jade, licking her lips, nervous. Feferi watched them silently, a deity looking down on lower beings that she dearly loved, and Jade was rooted. Nepeta smeared paint on Jade's cheeks, her arms, the backs of her hands. Eyes bright with lust, eyes bright with her heart.
"I was burned by green," she said with a cryptic smile and then spun back around quicker than she came, returning to her work.
The paint was cold as it dried.
"This is all real, I just know it," Feferi said and wrapped her arms around Jade's middle, pressing her lips against her neck. Jade merely nodded, over and over, eyes flicking from symbol to symbol, from color to color, from monstrous creature to monstrous creature. "I could breathe water."
"I had a dog. He could travel across galaxies," Jade said and Nepeta stiffened. Seconds passed, a dozen, and then she grabbed white and black and created a wolfish shape. It was less defined than the other imagery; rougher, emotional. White bleeding into grey bleeding into black, emanating a fiery green, smoke-like, curling, culminating in a massive sphere, a brilliant star. It was a beacon.
Green fire, a light that could be seen across universes. Destruction, or... or creation, it was all things at once. It was, it was.
It was done. Nepeta stepped back and back and back from her transcriptions, looking over the mural with pride and with fear. Her arms hung limp at her sides, stripped of their strength and heavy. Fingers coated thick with mixed pigments unfurled, curling ever so slightly. She kept moving backwards in a fugue until Jade caught and pulled her close.
"There were others," Nepeta said. "Not just us, but... other people. Friends."
"Enemies," Feferi whispered. Both.
The paintings spoke to them, like no work of art ever had before. The symbols were strange but familiar, each color full of a hundred connotations that pulled at the back of their minds, like a powerful and lasting sense of déjà vu. The ivory creatures... even more so.
The walls were just beautiful. Their landlord was going to kill them.
Feferi pulled Jade and Nepeta by the hands gently, beaming with excitement and pride. They let themselves be dragged into the shared bathroom and giggled and squealed and screamed as freezing water sprayed them, soaking their clothes and washing the paints away in a swirling mist of recollection. None of them could see who was touching who, and it hardly mattered. They squeezed their eyes shut and kissed whenever they found lips, hands, shoulders. They jumped out shrieking when the water suddenly turned boiling hot, and they peeled off each other's clothes, and they wrapped each other in towels, and they towel-dried each other's hair, and they walked to the kitchen, and they blended strange concoctions of fruit into smoothies. All the cups were either full of paint or dirty, so they passed around the blender's pitcher and chatted about their dreams.
There was much to discuss. Many things to plan for the future, people to seek out, and histories to unravel. The blueprints were on the walls.