Celeste stared out the window, still unable to comprehend what had happened the night before. She hadn’t had much human contact for several years since she’d moved to this lonely riverside house. “Lonely” wasn’t the word she would have picked. She preferred “peaceful” or perhaps even “isolated”. Sometimes she painted, or took photos, among other things. The house stood on a level, grassy river bank, comfortably enclosed by a forest of tall trees. The river stretched straight off into infinity as it had always had done. It continued to flow quietly as she stared through the trees on the other side of the river.
She’d dreamt last night; humans dream all the time, only sometimes remembering them, but this was normal. But she met someone she was sure was another person. A teenager. A few years younger? They were somewhat hyperactive. They talked using words she’d never even dreamt of until now. They didn’t seem like words. A teenage girl? Short, light brown hair, a strange style of clothes; some kind of jeans with a T-shirt with some people on it. Maybe it was from a show. With an entirely new type of personality, a new set of memories and even new words. The doubt in her mind was slowly fading away. This was another human being who existed somewhere else on this very earth.
Celeste walked to the kitchen slowly, mind unfocused. Unfocused yet focused on reality; how was it possible? How could anybody communicate through dreams? The more she tried to pass it off as an especially realistic dream, the more she moved away from the very idea. She absent-mindedly sipped the tea she’d just made; the shock from the boiling liquid helped move reality back into the foreground. It was midday. The sun stared down at the river from beyond the trees and above the sky, throwing shadows across the water via the trees. The day was going by so fast…it seemed to her like last night was only an hour ago. Maybe it was – she had been replaying what fragments she could remember since dawn. She’d always been fairly unshakable and down to earth – otherwise this degree of independence would be unbearable. (The river helped with that.) But down to earth was exactly what had got her thinking.
Before she knew it, the sun was setting already, the trees darkened, as if to draw focus to the distant light show at the very end of the river. After what seemed like minutes, now the only reflections were cast from a lone house, the lone house on the riverside, its lights static until passing over from land to water. It was getting late; Celeste was unsure about going to sleep now. It even brought back memories of sleepless nights as a child, staying awake to fend off imagined threats. Even though there was no threat now, the idea of reality crossing over into the subconscious like this was worrying. She wasn’t scared. Just apprehensive. But the idea of going without sleep was even more unattractive; she finally shut down for the night under night’s veil.
A series of images played in her head, like a theatre. But those were nothing more than landscapes, unrelated events. It was soon forgotten in favour of tonight’s main show. She found herself at the riverside again in broad daylight. Normal so far. A shadow approached parallel to the sunlight’s path down the river from between the trees. It was her. The one Celeste had seen last night. Before Celeste had time to speculate, the teenage girl waved and briskly started walking over, on the brink of breaking into a jog. “Hey! Hi!” Celeste smiled slightly, wordless. “How is this even possible?! I mean, I…I can’t! I just can’t!”
She was still as hyperactive as she’d always been, articulating wildly upon every emphasised word. She seemed…in shock? Surprised? Excited? She seemed slightly panicked. Slowly but warmly, Celeste replied with a soft-spoken voice. “You can’t…? I don’t know how it’s possible either. But this is…oh my…I’m not sure how to describe this.” She wasn’t exactly sure how to reciprocate such energy. The teenager had calmed down slightly but her words still seemed to crackle and spark with excitement. “Oh, and I forgot to ask you the last time. Did I ask you last time?” This took several tries to say correctly, including some non-words that Celeste was sure were intentional. “Do you have a Tumblr?” A look of confusion with no reply. “Well, it’s a website where people reblog things, and, and there’s fandoms where people talk about their favourite thing, and there’s GIFs…” Celeste had no idea what she was talking about, and her words seemed to trail away, still met with a passive look of confusion. “I’m sorry. But I don’t know what those things are.” “Oh…who are you? How can I talk to you?”
The teenage girl’s mood had seemed to whiplash into something more serious. Maybe she’d been surprised by last night too. Again, with a soft voice: “I’m Celeste. I live next to a river I won’t tell you just yet; I live alone in a house next to a river and I paint among other things. Let’s just talk here for now.” The calm personality she’d maintained seemed to have a visible effect on the girl. “Okay. I’m Lindsay. I’m 16, I live in New York and I like to draw sometimes. I spend most of my time on Tumblr but I’ve been busy with school lately. I stay up late a lot.” With a faint smile back on her face, Celeste told her: “Don’t stay up so late. It’s not healthy.” Before there could be a reply, she was drawn back into the real world. Lindsay’s fate was unknown. Maybe she was still dreaming. They’d both have time to think about it from now until the next time.