Blank Spaces, Part 1 This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I awake to the smell of lingering coffee with the rising sun opening on my dreams. I had the same dream, once again. As I have for the past several months. I dream a man is chasing me, and then he is gone. I have an overwhelming sense of love for this stranger, although he is not a stranger at all; he seems slightly familiar. I chase him, searching aimlessly for him only to see he is never to return.

“Good morning!” Zenn’s voice trails thick and smooth like honey. I walk over to the balcony to meet him as I gaze awe-struck out at the sky. I wrap my sheer bathrobe around my waist and let the sun spread its warmth over me. For a moment, I only bask in the present and let go of the past. Then, I wonder where my stranger is, out in the chaotic world that beckons me. A firm hand rests on my shoulder. I turn to see that deep wrinkles have set in Zenn’s forehead as my bewilderment leaks through.

“You look worried. What’s wrong?” he asks as I take a long, tentative sip of coffee.

“It’s that dream again.” Zenn knows exactly what I mean. I’ve had this dream going on for the past hundred days, every night, waking up broken and shattered once again. My voice falters as I try to grasp the details of my dream, but it is already dull.

Zenn snaps and turns his head away from me, “Listen. You know what I think of this. Forget it. He is part of your dream. Probably just a friend from your childhood; don’t worry about it. This will only cause you anxiety.” The lecture trails again. Something about this bothers him, almost as if he knows who the person is, and he is trying to keep me from him. I know I have met this blank-spaced man before, which is what keeps me confused. Zenn pushes me to forget, but how can I forget a life lost at the fingertips. I’ve been living between two lives; day and night.

We dine out in the city in celebration of Zenn’s work. They have upgraded him to head of the Thinkers. This worries me a bit. Who knows what path he will take now, and who he will become?
He takes me to a luxurious restaurant. I know I am in love with Zenn. I always have been for as long as I’ve known him. We are meant to be together, but ever since that one night when the dreams began, I am trying to convince myself to hold on. This love does not resemble the feeling towards my ‘dream-man’.

Once we finish our outing, Zenn pulls me over to the park. He clasps his hand through mine and leads me to the trail that twists through the trees. It is spring and the skies open wide with the sweet honeysuckle drifting through the curtsying branches. Leaves scatter, fresh and pure. Pink buds bloom in corners and cracks. The sun melts above us as something catches my eye.

A warped bench placed along the park’s path catches my eye. An image is played through my mind. I know I’ve been here before numerous times with someone: the familiar man from my dreams. I can’t place whether our outing was a dream or a dull memory. Those faded into one a while ago.

I step out of Zenn’s arms so I can move closer. There is a small heart drawn in thick black marker on a wooden panel with someone’s name written in it. It resembles my handwriting, I think to myself as I squint to see it clearly. I don’t remember writing this here, though there are many things I don’t remember. The name written in the heart is Jag. I try to rack through my mind of any man I’ve ever known or met to the name of Jag. Images and memories begin to lock into place. Jag. All of a sudden, I am reliving every moment and memory that I ever lived in and breathed with this man. My dreams with the blank faced man are suddenly filled. Fragments are placed together as the puzzle is finally completed. I see his face in my mind. His sharp jaw and raw stubble across his chin. His deep eyes that stare endlessly.

I think back to last night’s dream. It finally becomes clear: the woods were tangled within their trees. The soft sudden moon shining through the twisted branches. Silence. Absolute silence echoing all along the dwindling paths. My feet are bare and covered with cuts from fallen sticks. My hair collects at a clip with strands whipped in my face. My heart pounds at my chest as I feel myself breaking; joint by joint. I am utterly and completely lost.

Leaves rattle and bushes shake. I spin quickly, searching for any sign of a man. I run with my arms flapping out beside me. My breath comes out in quick hard gulps. My eyes water and tears slide down my cheek. I can’t find him. It feels as though there are bricks toppling down on me. My body breaking. I have been looking for so long. This is the moment where I am supposed to find him.
Somewhere, someone rustles down the woods. The branches topple over and the moon shines through, filling the darkness. I squint, trying to see through the mess. I wipe my eyes, shake my hair and continue down the path. Though the moon is out, there is still darkness creeping stealthily. A face appears behind a twisted tree. Rough stubble, sharp chin, deep blue eyes. It is Jag.

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