"Helen, are you here? What am I doing here, remind me again, why am I here? Please, you didn't leave me did you, Helen, please stay." With a long breath, barely more than a sigh it's answered "Arthur…", I feel the breath against my face, a breeze, but it's cold. I jump awake, "Helen!" I notice the window is open and it's dark outside, my notebook drops on the floor, "A long party at night…" I close the window and take a seat again with a big sigh. "At least I finished the sandwich. But now where were we..." I continue to write down the vision I saw in the fire. Barely 10 minutes in, the tall man enters, "the fridge has been stocked, the kitchen is clean and the tap is running clean water too. You should be set here for the next few days." I reply, "thank you for the help, I should be just fine." The man smiles and leaves. I continue to write as time approaches midnight, it's getting late.
The nap just happened to me and now here alone in this house, hidden in the woods. I feel uncomfortable. Restless I look around. I go through the house. I exit the room, to my right the window looking out to the forest, no more than various shades of dark. The crescent moon casting little more than a little light and all that's left is varying shades of dark blue. To my left the hallway, a light from the living room, the fire still burns. The gentle crackling of the wood a comforting sound. The subtle pulsation of the fire plays a slow waltz of light on the walls. A long steady gradient from deep orange to dark blue. As I get closer to the living room, the light grows brighter and the sounds louder. I sit on the couch, I become restless, my breathing heavy and fast. I lean over forward and try to capture myself. "Oh Arthur…" Barely sound, as though it's carried through the fire.
A hand pushes on my shoulder, it feels warm. This feels like Helen, as though it could only be her. "Arthur, relax, try to let go (of me)..." I'm not sure these are voices, echoes, I don't know what they are, are they figments of my imagination. Puzzled I listen, I obey. I lay back on the couch. Something brushes my left leg, then my right. The whisper is so close, I feel a warm breath down my neck to my left, I smile, close my eyes and lean into the warmth. The fire is warm, but this is so much more intimate. A tear rolls over my cheek, "Helen, why do you do this?" I barely move my lips, I don't even think I ever made a sound. "Arthur, you're so tense and you're so tired, just let go (of me)..." I nod off and fall asleep again.
I dream of when Helen and I were at home a year ago, we too had a fireplace. We'd sit there and watch it, we'd whisper our days and our wishes into the fire. We'd lie there, together, cuddled against each other. We'd start laughing for no reason, then go back to cuddling and just watch the fire for hours. At other times we would talk and live our lives like any other couple. But something always felt different when we'd sit there and enjoy the fire. It provided a comfort beyond its heat, it provided sounds and smells to keep us mesmerized. It was where we felt safe and at ease, gazing into the endless play of flames. That day Helen told me, "Arthur, I can see the future in the fire, the same way you see the past. These memories you think you have, they are visions of the past, you'll know what I mean soon enough."
She continued. "There's a house in a town nearby, a house hidden in the forests, I'll die there, it will be a death nobody can understand and one I don't understand either. But I'll make sure there's a fire, and that you can help me with that." Struck, there's not much more I could say other than stumble over, "I…" "It's okay Arthur, for as long as I could see the fire, I could see this moment. It'll all make sense in the end. Now go, get some sleep." I fell asleep, sobbing, missing her already. And as I fell asleep in the dream, a sudden cold came over me. The fire had gone out during the night and the sun had announced the day to start. The trees outside were covered in a light fog. Everything looked moist and cold. A sense of loss came over me and I cried, last night's dream, the memories it contained, it overwhelmed me.
There was time for breakfast, warm coffee and as I collected myself, I was reminded by what Helen said, "Let go of me." I never was her in the vision I had before, they were vague shapes, perhaps I didn't want to see. Helen came here of her own accord. Not that she willed it to be this way, she simply followed her fate. The fire was lit again. I sat on the couch sterly, watching the fire. The same evening came back, the laughing and the dancing. Young people in elegant dresses, masked, laughing and dancing. The vague movements now manifest. The smell of weed in the air. A table with a bowl filled with white powder, another filled with colorful pills. The conversation itself became more tangible too. Stories of drugs and promiscuity. Then I saw Helen, masked as she was, I could still recognize her, her laugh one I could pick out of a million. A confirmation of what she said a year ago. The vision shifted, the morning followed. I find out that the figures aren't all sleeping. I find Helen as I would eventually hear the story from her parents. Draped over a large rock outside, passed away. "Then she speaks, Arthur, I'm so sorry you have to see this."