Kester played with Mikaela’s curly brown hair as she slept. Quietly, he whispered, “Macushla, I have dreamt of you. I cannot believe you’re Here.” Softly she stirred in his arms. He quickly closed his eyes so she wouldn’t see he was awake if she woke.
Mikaela was a heavy sleeper however; her stirring was just a passing dream. She curled into Kester’s chest, her arms wrapped around his torso and her feet entangled with his. She was not quite a foot shorter than him, so her face was buried into his chest.
Slowly, the winter sun started to glow and filled the cottage with light. Kester got out of bed carefully, letting his guest sleep some more. She had a harrowing journey here and he wanted to make her feel welcome. He prepared tea and breakfast for both of them. Mikaela smelled his cooking and woke up.
She slid out of bed and made her way over to the living area where Kester had put a pot on the fire. “Thank you for taking me in yesterday.”
Kester turned and smiled, handing her a tea. “Of course! It’s good to have a guest. I hope you’ll stay a while.”
Mikaela frowned, but then smiled. “I don’t understand why I’m here. It’s an amazing journey, but can I really just leave reality, er, There, behind so easily?”
Kester understood what Mikaela meant. “Have a seat, we should talk. First, I want you to know you are welcome Here. Second, I, too, am from There.”
Mikaela looked up at him with little confusion. “Yes, I understand. Hank from Nowhere told me how we all are from Thaer as he called it. It sounded like people decide to stay in this world or go back however. I just don’t know how I can let everything There go. Family, commitments, vows.” Mikaela looked down. “Part of me wants to stay here. Learn all there is to know about Here and you. Build a new life. But, is it real?”
Kester looked down. “I come here often, but I too have obligations. There, some of the very same concerns. Here, I am free. Here, however, is magical. We can do as we dream, but we can also do no harm, to ourselves or others, in the real world.”
Mikaela continued to listen as Kester explained how he visits Here while maintaining his life There. “Doesn’t it get, well, confusing?”
Kester laughed. “Yes, especially when people you meet Here, Nowhere, or Somewhere, decide to go back and you meet them There. More than once, I’ve had the sense of Deja Vu with others.”
Mikaela smiled, and then looked at Kester. “Did you ever dream of people you met Here before you actually met them?”
Kester blushed. “Just one.” He wasn’t willing to explain at that point that it was Mikaela however. He thought it might make him sound a little crazy.
Mikaela didn’t push, but instead switched subjects. “Would it be possible for me to see Pepper?”
Kester obliged immediately. “Oh definitely. He should be in the barn. Hold on, let me get you something warm to wear.” He handed her a heavy blanket to wrap around her shoulders. She found her riding boots.
“I’ll be right back.” She waved as she headed out the front door.
Kester watched her walk out to the barn from the window, then turned to finish up breakfast.
“Pepper, how are you?” Mikaela greeted her friend. He nodded at her. She had snuck a couple remaining apples out to treat Pepper. A beautiful dark stallion danced in the neighboring stall. After Pepper chomped down on the first apple, she stepped over to the steed’s stall. “Would you like an apple, too?” The dark horse lowered his head regally, then gently took the apple from her hand. “Good boy!” Mikaela petted his face. She didn’t see a name for him on any of the reigns or stall. I’ll have to ask Kester I guess, she thought to herself.
She walked over and picked up a grooming brush, then took care of Pepper’s coat, brushing it out. She talked to Pepper, thanking him for taking care of her and bringing her here. He softly whinnied and shook his head to the door. “I know, breakfast is almost ready. Would your friend like to be groomed too?” She walked over to the other stall. The dark horse backed up, unsteadily. Mikaela stepped back, she knew he wasn’t yet comfortable with her. “Okay, maybe later?” He stepped back forward and let her pet his face.
She put the brush back and headed back to the house to enjoy some breakfast.
“How’s Pepper?” Kester asked.
“Okay, I gave him a brushing. You’re other horse, what’s his name?”
“That’s Dorian. He’s a little stand-offish at first. Once he gets to know you, he won’t leave you alone.” Kester chuckled.
“Ahh. That’s why he didn’t want a brushing then. Okay.”
They both took a seat and ate breakfast. They talked more about their lives both Here and There. The more they talked, the more they connected with each other.
Mikaela finally asked, “How do you go back and forth between Here and There? You mentioned you still go back.”
He smiled, “Really simple, I just tell myself I’m going There before I go to bed, and I wake up there. It is almost as if no time passes in either place as I go back and forth, except for a dream cycle.”
Mikaela’s mouth opened in shock. “That’s it?” She could not believe the simplicity of it. “Is it that way for everyone?”
Kester laughed a moment. “No, it isn’t that way for most people, only people who actually come here in their first dream of this place seem to have this ability. It’s kind of rare.” Kester scratched the back of his neck.
Mikaela looked at him again. “Wait, you mean if you actually have a journey here, interacting with others, not just dream of the place, your first time, you can just dream your way home?”
He nodded his head, then asked, “How many times did you dream of being here before this visit?”
Mikaela blushed. “I’m kind of rare, I guess.”
With that Kester smiled a large smile, one Mikaela had not yet seen. “You are her.”
Mikaela looked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”
Kester stood up and took the breakfast plates from the table, setting them aside, then pulled out a book with a double love knot on it. He set the book down in front of her. “This is a serch bythol.” He traced the symbol which appeared to be two touching trinity knots. “Inside are my writings of this place; I want you to read it. I hope it makes sense to you. If you are who I believe you are, you will understand.” Mikaela looked up at him. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek gently. “Still Do. Always Will.” With that, he walked out to the barn to check on the animals and left her to read.