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Rated: E · Short Story · Mystery · #2266668
Here's a little story about love across a gulf. (Corrected. TY, {Username:akomagsusulat}.)
Author's Note: I don't write nearly as many stories as I do poems and essays. First, I'm not very good at it. Second, I don't have the patience to write a story. This little oddity came to me a number of years ago. I just ran across it and decided to post it here. So, brace yourself. I finally finished typing it in from my file!

         The apartment was a little more expensive than others I had looked at, but this one featured a nice large fireplace with a stone mantle. I pictured romantic evenings before a crackling fire with that someone special I was certain I would find soon. In spite of the circumstances of the past six months or so, I still believed in everlasting love.
         My divorce had only been final for about two months, but my now ex-wife had left me four months before that for a television and appliance salesman. So it was that I came to this modest-sized apartment with the large fireplace.
         At first, the oddities were just that. They were minor annoyances that kept me wondering if were going a bit daft. When I finished moving my things in, I left two apples on the mantelpiece of the fireplace. My bed was still in pieces and I was tired from moving, so I lay down on my mattress and soon dozed off.
         I awoke hungry about an hour later and went to get my apples. I was certain that I had left them on the mantelpiece, but they weren't there now. I searched the apartment, thinking that I might have left them somewhere else. They were just nowhere to be found. The door was locked, so no one could have come in and taken them. It was just the first of a series of puzzling occurences
         Over the next week, other things disappeared from the mantle. I suppose it would have made sense to just stop putting things there, but I was intrigued. A small CD player, a book of jokes, a notebook, and finally a book of poetry all disappeared. It was becoming more than just a minor annoyance. Things that meant something were going missing. Always, I discovered the items missing upon waking in the morning or from a nap.
         What was more puzzling still were the items I sometimes found on the mantle. Sometimes, one object would be taken only to be replaced by something else. A CD appeared soon after the apples had vanished. It was one of my favourite groups, but it was a CD I didn't have.
         I finally decided to simply leave the mantlepiece bare. I resolved that nothing else would go up there so that nothing else would disappear.
         I slept soundly the night of my decision, but I had an unusual dream. In it, I was alone in a small, square room made of gray stone. I was somehow aware that next to my room was another and identical one, and that within this other room was a beautiful and intelligent woman. I somehow knew she was there, but I couldn't see her. Though I didn't know who she was, I felt that we had known each other for a very long time. I knew I had to get to her to free her from the gray room, but I couldn't even get out of my own gray room. It was a paradox. We had to be together, yet we couldn't be together because of the gray rooms, which weren't prisons at all. We seemed to have built them ourselves, but now we couldn't get out. Stranger still was the fact that we both continued to polish the stones of the walls which contained us.
         I awoke from the dream in the early morning hours with a very uneasy feeling It was still dark outside, so I turned on the lamp on my bedside table and, with bleary eyes, headed toward the kitchen for a snack.
         When I reached the livingroom, I stopped in my tracks. There on the mantle was a quart glass milk bottle. It had a piece of paper inside.
         "Great," I thought sarcastically. "A note to the milkman - no more cheese!"
         I picked up the bottle and started to throw it away as just one more oddity from the mantlepiece. I'm not sure why, but I became suddenly very curious about the paper inside. If it could be a note to a milkman, it might be a note to --- who? Me? And from who?
         I could just get two fingers into the neck of the bottle to remove the paper. It was a note and I read with increasing amazement:
To whom it may concern,
         This may sound crazy, but I have placed a number of objects on the mantle over my fireplace only to have them disappear as I sleep. Sometimes, they have been replaced by other objects. One night, I stayed awake watching the mantle to see if I could find out how the objects were being moved. I finally became so tired that I dozed off, but only for a moment. I awoke to find that an object I had left on the mantle had disappeared. I have come to the conclusion that the mantle itself somehow teleports objects between itself and some other location. Please, if there is someone there, tell me how and why you are doing this.

         I stared at the note like one in a trance. Then, suddenly it made sense! There were mantles forming a portal between this apartment and --- where? I had to find out! I had to know who was at the other side of the portal.
         I grabbed a pen and paper and sat down to write a note to the unknown person who shared such an odd connection with me.
Not crazy at all. I am experiencing the same phenomenon. Who are you and where are you?

         I signed my name, put my note into the bottle and placed it upon the mantle. Now, I just needed to sleep.
         I went back to bed, anxious to see what response, if any, I'd receive.
         In spite of the early hour, sleep was a long time coming. I tossed and turned, knowing that whatever was about to transpire would not do so while I was awake.
         Finally, I fell into a surprisingly sound sleep, during which I had the same dream I'd had earlier. Again, I dreamed about the gray stone rooms and the beautiful woman. Again I felt the frustration of not being able to rescue her though I knew that we should be together.
         I slept for about an hour and awoke reluctantly. I hoped to discover the means to rescue the beautiful woman in the other gray stone room. She was a vision, so my dreams seemed like the perfect place to seek answers. Then the thought struck me that the dream might have some bearing on the person who had sent the bottle.
         I jumped up and almost ran to the mantle. The bottle was there, but was the paper it contained my own note or a new note from the unknown writer?
         I hurriedly pulled the paper from the bottle. My pulse quickened as I read the new note. It began, "My name is Teresa." Teresa went on to describe her apartment. Over the next few weeks, we continued to write notes back and forth via the mantle.
         We discovered that our apartments were not identical; they were actually the same apartment but in different dimensions or time-frames or something.
         I told Teresa of my recent divorce and she confided to me that she had just come from a string of failed romances. We learned that we had much in common. We liked some of the same music. We both loved to read and write poetry and short stories, so we shared some of our work with each other. We both liked to cook and we both enjoyed dining out. So much in common!
         Even the same apartment.
         I soon came to care about Teresa --- a lot. Our spirits had become so close, but still the dimensional or temporal rift separated us! It was maddening!
         One night, I went to asleep awaiting a new message from Teresa. For the third time, I had the dream about the gray stone rooms, but something was different this time. I had stopped polishing the stones of the walls and was building a fire in the center of the empty room. As the flames grew, the stone walls seemed to melt away. Finally, I could see the beautiful woman in the other room. She was even more beautiful than I had imagined! She ran to me, but just as we closed in a tight embrace, I awoke suddenly.
         As it had been for some time now, my first thought was of Teresa. I longed to meet her face-to-face! That's when it occured to me! If the mantle could teleport objects, why couldn't it teleport us?
         That night, I laid my mattress on the floor in front of the fireplace in case I fell off the mantle in my sleep. When I felt quite tired, I climbed up and lay on the mantle. Within moments, I was asleep but only briefly.
         I awoke with a start and lay with my eyes open, not daring to look about. Finally, I looked slowly to my side. With a sudden pang of disappointment, I saw my own possessions and recognized my own apartment; my own empty apartment.
         For hours, I pondered a way to teleport one of us to the other's apartment. I doubted that she could teleport to me any more than I had been able to teleport to her, and I was afraid that she might get injured in the attempt. Just when it seemed hopeless, it occured to me that we might be able to teleport to a common location if wde both lay on our mantels at the same time. There was still the risk that one or both of us might fall from the mantel and get hurt, but Teresa agreed in our next round of messages that the outcome could outweigh the risk.
         We coordinated our time and arranged to take our places on our respective mantels at about the same moment that night.
         Eager with anticipation, I took my place at the appointed time. I closed my eyes and instantly there was a warm breeze blowing on my face! It rustled the grass beneath my fingers, where there had been cold stone only a moment before! Turning my head to the left, I saw the radiantly smiling face of a beautiful woman who could only be Teresa! We were lying side-by-side on a grassy hillock. It was obviously summer and we lay beneath a large shade tree in a park.


         Nine years later, we are about to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. Our children are 5 and 7. Every day we spend together as a family is one of bliss! We are still in the same apartment, now one apartment. The mantel has never again been a portal for any object or person. It is now adorned with pictures of our wedding and our children.

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