I awake from a dream and look around me. I’m in my backyard. Sunset has come and gone. The sky is getting darker as each new moment passes. I yawn and stretch my arms, and surprisingly I don’t feel at all tired. I don’t know how long ago I fell asleep. It feels it could have been hours. I feel refreshed as I never have before.
I reach beside me and pick a violet. They are my favorite type of flower. Maybe I feel some likeness to the flower. They aren’t blue as the saying goes, but a beautiful shade of purple. I, too, feel I am often misjudged. I’m seen to all as a plain and simple girl, which isn’t even close to the truth. I put the flower to my nose and sniff it. Violets don’t really smell like much, but I smell it anyway. Instantly I’m overwhelmed with a wave of exhaustion. I lay my head down on the grass, holding the violet close to my heart. Soon I am asleep.
The dream continues. Or it returns. I do not know which, but I know the dream is not new.
The dream is of an alternate world. The skies are a dull pinkish orange as one might imagine on Mars, yet lighter than any Martian sky I’ve ever seen, in photos of course. The grass is still green and the night sky is still black. There are deserts of red sand. The water is all a very deep scarlet color, looking like blood, but being as pure as water on Earth. The whole place has a haunting air around it; the scenery is beautiful. In my dream I stand alone, walking over the endless plains and seeing no one and nothing. My world is completely barren yet I feel at home, as if this is where I am supposed to be. Sometimes I think of human companions, wishing I could fine a few of them. I know, though, that I will not. I know I am alone and that saddens me. All alone in a place that feels like home. Real uplifting thought if you know what I mean.
Near the end of the dream I sit down in the grass and pray for the world to change. I want a new home, one where I am not so alone. I wish there were at least a mirror so I could make sure I do exist. I yearn for variation, especially in the sky and water. The red and green has started to get on my nerves, especially the constant red. It infuriates me at times. I do not mind the green so much; the grass feels soft and cool. In this world it does not rain, yet sand does sometimes fall from the sky, carried from the deserts by the wind; I drink from the lakes, they are completely pure. I do not eat food. I do not need to.
But the lack of another voice, another face, another smile, irritates me more than anything in the world. Although there were none now, I knew they had existed long ago, maybe when I was a tiny child. I long for another person, other people, more than for a sky that isn’t red.
I think of the one place on Alsantra, the name of the planet, where there are flowers. There is a lone garden. I have never entered it for I have always felt it was sacred. Maybe it is. I walk there now. When I arrive my eyes are wide with awe. I have never before seen the garden fully, so close, at least not that I can remember. I pick some flowers, a rose, a violet, a daisy, a yellow daffodil, a chrysanthemum, a tulip, and many others of various different colors. I walk back to the spot where I’d been sitting before. I know I cannot wish for another world while among such beauty, even though there are no people.
I sit down in the desert area, red all around as if it wishes to swallow me. Grass even seems a faint memory. I hold the flowers close to my heart. A little sand rains down, but I do not mind. I honestly believe that by wishing upon these flowers and praying to my God, Alsa, for whom the planet was named, the world can change. I think once again upon how empty Alsantra seems, like a tomb waiting for me, its lone survivor, to die.
Thinking of this I begin to cry. My long blonde hair falls forward, reaching the ground. My deep blue eyes look out over the world I wish to leave. It truly is a beautiful world; it’s just that I crave human contact.
I cry softly, holding the sacred flowers. I do not know whether I cry at my loneliness or at the sadness of wanting to leave such a beautiful world. Perhaps both. I hold the flowers closer to my heart.
I awake again, the dream still clear in my mind. It is a dream that is familiar. I wonder where the words Alsantra and Alsa come from. I also wonder why the planet seemed so vivid. Maybe it was in a book or a movie or something that I have long since forgotten.
I realize with surprise that I am still clutching the violet I picked earlier. Pictures from my dream flash in my mind. I push them aside. I have better things to worry about.
It is dark now. I wonder as to how long I have been asleep. Again it feels like it has been hours. I get up, brush the grass off my clothes and start towards the street. I remember I had plans to meet my two best friends, Marilyn and Josie at the library that night to study for our upcoming Science exams. We will graduate in one week. I am exempt from all my exams except Physics.
I walk towards the library. I think of going inside my house first, but I’ve always preferred the outside and nature. I relish the cool wind on my face and the dark skies above on my walk. It nears eight and that is the time we’d planned on meeting.
When I enter the library I notice immediately that it’s changed. There are no people at all. No one reading books. No books being checked out. Strange, I think, Josie and Marilyn obviously aren’t at the library. They probably won’t even show up.
There is a librarian, thankfully. I go to the circulation desk to see what’s going on. “Excuse me,” I say, hoping to catch her attention. “My name is Darcy Stella. Two friends of mine were supposed to meet me here. Have you seen them?”
The woman stares right through me as if I weren’t there at all.
“Ma’am?” I ask. “Did you hear me?”
Her empty stare continues. I start to get scared. It’s as though she’s a ghost or a zombie. She’s staring with empty eyes, seeing nothing. I hurriedly leave.
I go outside, taking a deep breath of fresh air. I decide I may as well take an evening stroll around the town. I walk up and down many streets. I see people but for some reason they do not appear to see me. Either that or everyone is in an exceptionally rude mood. I say hi to a few people but they do not even glance my way.
There is nothing else to do so I go home. There I take my violet, which had been in my jeans pocket. It is a little wilted. I hope it is still alive. I get a vase and fill it with water, placing the violet inside. It opens up instantly and looks much healthier within minutes. I breathe a sigh of relief. For some reason I feel that if the violet is OK then I will be too. I have become attached to a little flower; I’ve even felt my life has depended on its survival. How psychologically healthy, co-dependence with a flower. I must have more problems than I’d realized.
My brother is in the family room, watching TV, The Simpsons. I sit down next to him, the show is rather funny. Sean doesn’t even look up when I enter. Nothing strange, he’s often too engrossed in his TV shows to pay any attention to anything around him. When the show is over he gets up to get a bag of potato chips. I feel hungry and ask him to pass the bag over to me so that I can eat some. He appears not to here me. “Sean! Don’t be such a pig!” I say, angry at his unwillingness to share with his only sister. Still he appears not to here me. I think of the library and look in Sean’s eyes. They, too, appear dead and zombie-like. On impulse I touch his shoulder. He does not stir, just keeps munching away blissfully. I tap him hard on the shoulder. Still he does not react. It is as though he is not even really there.
By this time I am really freaking out. Either there is something wrong with the rest of the world or there is something wrong with me. I fear that it is the latter. I must definitely have more mental problems than I’d ever imagined.
I really do not like my empty house. I figure that if I am outside I can at least enjoy my surroundings. I leave my house and enter the splendor of night. No one is around, for which I am grateful. I have always been underestimated. I have always thought that everyone else thought of me as being too plain when really I am not at all so. I have always felt there was more to me than meets the eye, maybe even to myself. But never in my life have I felt so alone. So overlooked. I do not like this feeling. It frightens me.
I begin to wonder if I could possibly be dead. I even check my pulse, which is at quite a normal pace.
I pass a group of girls who appear my age. I might even know them, but the light is dim and I cannot tell for sure. I try to say hi, but I receive no response. I get the feeling it isn’t because they are snobs and think I am too lowly to deserve their attention, as people my age can often act. I believe they honestly don’t see or hear me.
Am I that insignificant? Do I mean so little to Earth’s history or future that people of the present cannot even see me? Every single person I have talked to tonight seems to think so.
There is one person who is the complete opposite. He appears seemingly out of nowhere. He strides right towards me then stops in front of me, a startled look in his eyes.
“Hi,” I say, eager for someone to talk to on this strange night. “My name is Darcy Stella.”
“Hi Darcy,” he says. “I am Christopher Lindquist.” Christopher has dark brown hair, brown eyes and a warm smile. I like him already. There is something about him that is mysterious and attracting.
In his hand Christopher holds a single red rose. He holds it out to me, saying, “Roses are red.”
“And violets are blue,” I say, adding the second line to the corny poem.
“No, Darcy. Violets are purple. You know that.” He smiles.
“Yes. I know.” I say, glad to find someone who realizes the lunacy of that dorky nursery rhyme. It crosses my mind that I have often felt myself misjudged, just like the violets. It’s odd that the one person that notices that I exist should say that. I label it as a strange coincidence, a very strange one.
“Something important is red, though,” Christopher says and a smile touches his lips.
“Well yes, plenty of things are…” I begin.
“I was referring to the sand, lakes and skies of Alsantra.” He speaks with caution.
Now things have gone beyond strange coincidences. Had Christopher had the same dream as I? The planet becomes clear and vivid in my mind. How could this stranger know my dreams? Have I fallen asleep again? Am I dreaming?
“What do you mean?” I ask shakily.
“Darcy,” Christopher says softly, “there are many things I must explain to you. Have you been having a strange night at all?”
“Well, actually…yes. The night has been beyond strange. I had a very unusual dream and then I awoke to find no one could see or hear me. And earlier I felt as though my life depended on a flower. Did someone drug my food or something? If so, this is one weird trip.” I reply, trying in futility to make a joke out of the situation.
“No, this is no acid trip. It’s all very real. More real than most things.”
“Oh.” That wasn’t exactly the answer I was hoping to hear. “Can you tell me what on Earth is going on?”
“Darcy, we are not on Earth.”
Now that was totally unexpected. I take a step back from Christopher. “What do you mean?” I stammer.
“We are on Alsantra.”
“It is real?”
“Yes, very. You were not having a dream, Darcy. It was a memory.
“What do you mean?” It is the question of the night.
“You, Darcy Stella, were the only person left on Alsantra after the earthquake, or should I say Alsantra-quake? Do not ask me how it happened, for I do not know. I just know it is what occurred. You were quite young when the quake hit. I believe you were in the garden, that would explain how you survived, but I cannot be sure of it. That place is Alsa’s garden. It is very sacred. Nothing there ever dies. After that you wandered the planet. You loved your planet and you loved Alsa. Yet you grew restless and lonely. It’s easy to understand. There was no contact with any other beings, not even animals were there. Do you remember this?”
“Yes,” I answer, barely able to breathe. For now I do remember, quite clearly. What Christopher says is true, it wasn’t a dream I’d had, but a memory. Still I must know more.
Christopher continues. “So one day you gathered some flowers from the garden and wished on them for another world, did you not?”
“I did, but I do not remember what happened next.”
“You got your wish. You were born into a human body. Alsa warned you that you would eventually have to return to Alsantra; it is your home. She told you that you would probably want to and would not regret it when the time came for your return. She told you it would not be as desolate. If you wanted to return ever you needed to hold the purple flower close to your heart.”
It’s all starting to click now. I had always felt weird on Earth, out of place. And earlier today I had held the flower close to me while I slept in my yard.
It’s rather ironic now that I think of it. I had always loved movies and books about aliens. I watched The X-Files fervently. I had always hoped one day I’d discover an alien. I had never known I was the real thing.
“So how is it less desolate now?” I ask. “People seem to be here, but they all stare with empty eyes. I do not understand.”
“Those people were illusions. You saw them because you expected them to be there. It was all in your head, as the saying goes.”
“Are you real?” I ask, hoping to Alsa that the answer is yes.
“Yes,” he answers. “I am here to keep you company on this lovely planet.”
“I can deal with that,” I say, smiling. I really do like Christopher. In the few minutes I’ve talked to him I can tell that I will enjoy being with him very much. Being on a planet other than Earth is not really so bad as long as there is good company.
He takes my hand and we walk toward a red lake. The buildings I had seen earlier, the library and my house, are no longer there. They, too, must have been illusions. I had expected them to be there.
Soon the sun rises and I see the familiar pinkish orange sky. It is truly beautiful. I am glad to be home. Home Sweet Home.
Christopher and I walk to the garden. I pick a rose and hand it to him. “Roses are red.”
He reaches over and pulls a violet and hands it to me. “Violets are purple.” We both smile.
“Now if only I could think of something really cheesy to rhyme with purple,” I say and we both laugh. I decide then and there to plant flowers all over the planet and make it flourish with color. I do not believe Alsa will mind if I take flowers and seeds from her garden. It is what kept me alive and also what brought Chris to me. I tell him my thoughts.
Christopher smiles. “Sounds like a good idea to me.” Then he kisses me. What I said to him before is true; I can deal with being back on Alsantra now that he is here. After all it always was my true home, and now I have someone to share it with.