Wisdom and renewal
Melissa was talking to him in his sleep about higher mathematics, about the marvels she was learning with her new teacher. Her new interest in physics amazed him, his recollection of her was of a rather simpler type of girl: how she had changed… But he was trying to follow, she was so keen for him to understand, she was talking with passion, of their future, of the new sense of her own existence, her search for him. She said she would never give him up, she was learning to achieve something: to reach him in his world, the world of the living.
Sarah and him had stopped calling her “the ghost”. For his wife, Melissa was “your friend”, or, when she felt playful, “your personal alien”. For him she was a new person, who inhabited the body – or more precisely – “a” body, for now inaccessible, so much like that of his long-dead school friend. The girl Melissa of his present had the memories, and much of the spirit, of the other Melissa, but she was a different being. Her difference was her modernity: she was a woman of the 21st, not 20th, century, despite the old fashion style of her Page. For a start the “modern” Melissa was talking to him in his sleep: talking, not appearing, and she was talking to convince, possibly even educate him. Her sentences were as clear as crystal, and, in the morning he remembered everything: what she said about her studies, her teacher Gabrielle, the new chapters of physics and mathematics she had just learnt. She was indeed busy, and seemed to absorb sophisticated mathematical and modern physics concepts and theories that were already beyond Julian’s grasp. He did not understand what she was leading at by telling him about her studies, and how it would allow her to “reach” him. Evidently she knew of a link between the two, between her new knowledge and “their” promised intimacy.
However he was no longer anxious about her, nor thinking about his “lost years”. She – or someone – had carefully edited her Page, which now was more accurate, and only contained what, to him, looked like original material. It also went beyond their “story”, which, for Julian, was reassuring. He visited her page regularly and had started to write on her wall. What he wrote was comments on what he’d heard in his sleep, reflections on the work she’d told him about. He’d checked some of the articles she quoted during her conversation, and it was all genuine. She was reading very recent papers on astrophysics, astronomy and quantum physics, that were far beyond the comprehension of a college girl, or even most graduate students. For he saw her as she was when he left: same age, same looks, same appearance to the living. And indeed Melissa had confirmed, via her Page, that she was as she had always been since her “return”, more than twenty years ago. Sadly – he thought – he could not meet her, or, at least he could not yet: in his dreams there was, always, an expectation that that “barrier” was not final, that Melissa would find a way. His rational mind was telling him it was all a fable, that there was no such thing as coming back from the dead. But the beautiful fact was he did not see it as that anymore, but rather, as a subtle reincarnation, one of these rare miracles of genetics that, once in a millennium, created an identical twin, but remote in time from the sibling. The first Melissa had died, of that he was certain, but someone who was very much like her, had been born, and was looking for him.
Sarah thought the two of them, her husband and whoever it was who was claiming the person of Melissa, suffered from a sweet delusion. She did not have a complete theory of what had happened in reality, but she imagined a friend of both of them, someone who had known them both in their youth, perhaps one of the “jealous” girls of Julian’s college memories, had somehow picked up Julian’s current whereabouts and created the “myth”: she would be Melissa, reconstructed and, ultimately, reincarnated. Julian was sharing all his dreams with his wife, so that Sarah, herself not a mediocre physicist, knew of Melissa’s work and had concluded that the person behind it all was a serious scientist or mathematician. In her view this confirmed the prosaic nature of the phenomenon Melissa: a real living human being, who was pursuing something that might have started as a joke, or a bet. But Sarah would not speculate where this may lead to: she was just keeping note of what Julian told her about the night’s voice.
So Julian was deep in his work, and was beginning to follow a new routine. His dreams recurred once or twice a week, which was enough to keep his mind awake to Melissa’s progress, without becoming obsessive. Most of his awake time he did not think too much of his friend, but concentrated on his writing, and on his wife. Then, one night, Melissa said she wanted him to meet her teacher, Gabrielle.