She awoke to the sound of birds chirping somewhere in the surrounding countryside and the scent of summer slowly finding its way through the open window, nestling in her hair and the bedsheets. It was the kind of feeling that didn’t demand full awareness or open eyes to spread within a person and so she let it settle inside her semi-conscious body, relishing the sense of peace and freedom it brought with it.

The feeling itself felt like childhood to her, like long days in the sun and even longer nights whispering through the darkness; felt like sand between her toes and smiling lips smeared with the remnants of sweet plums or chocolate ice cream. She could see whole scenes of these days behind closed lids; could see herself doing cartwheels and somersaults on the beach, the rolling sea her only spectator and fiercest judge at once. And – in those few moments – it all seemed so terribly familiar, even though there was no doubt about it belonging to another time and another girl. The feeling was a long-lost friend, one that didn’t come to visit quite often enough and with whom the time was cherished even more because of it. Like those kinds of friendships, it connected straight with her early childhood memories, as if no time had passed. And she could hear the sea through the tiny body of a shell; hear its distinct melody until she could feel the sting of salt water in her eyes and the silky feeling of it on her skin. And she could see vineyards and cypresses and red-bricked towns, whose names had long since escaped her mind.

She dreamed like this a while longer, without ever falling back asleep; surrendered to the feelings and noises and scents she remembered from those early days and let them connect to the person she was today, a young woman so far away and yet so close to the girl her memories showed her.

And it took a while for her to finally abandon this feeling, to open her eyes and to fall back into the reality of her life as it was today, instead of how it used to be all those years ago. Slowly, she swung one leg after the other onto the floor and walked barefoot to the open window – the white curtains danced lazily in the morning air, as if the wind had invited them to a gentle Rumba – and looked at the countryside beyond. She blinked against the sunlight. Once, twice and smiled, for there they all were: the vineyards and cypresses and the red roofs of a little town in the distance, connecting a child’s chocolate-smeared smile with the rosy lips of a young woman ready for her next great adventure.

 

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