Crossing Over
            by Eclipse

            He sang lullabies to her as she fell asleep, gently smoothing back her hair and kissing her goodnight as her eyes finally closed. Their bodies used to sing together, love and passion arching between them, long into the night. They would have eyes only for eachother. Things were different now, so different. He settled back against his pillow, eyes afraid to leave her, knowing that he wouldn't find sleep for hours to come...
            She had drawn more and more into herself, ever since that day she walked alone down to the beach. She never told him what had happened there, and he no longer asked, but he could tell something had changed her deeply. He had fixed a candle-lit supper for them that night; she had come home looking pale and shocked, as if she were afraid to cry. He had put his arms around her gently and asked her what was wrong, she had turned away and run to their bedroom. The candles flickered out, the cat woke up and asked for dinner, and thick clouds covered the sky, shutting out the pale moonlight. The cat was fed, the lights turned on, the dishes washed, the uneaten supper put away. She had come to him for comfort hours later, he held her wordlessly until dawn.
            Over the next few weeks the domestic chores fell more and more to Alan, neglected by Deborah. She would walk down to the beach, and stay there all day long, doing nothing but staring out over the waves. She would leave for hours, and give not a word about where she had been. And then the nightmares started.
            She still cried out for Alan in her sleep, begged him to stay with her and comfort her. He would hide the hurt and confusion in his eyes to cradle her in his arms, easing her off to sleep.
            The idea of psychiatric help crossed his mind more than once, but he always pushed it away, in some ways afraid to admit that someone else might be able to help her.
            She caught him looking at old photographs of them sometimes, tears in his eyes... but she always turned away, in some ways afraid to admit that she just couldn't help him

            As fall came and the days began to grow shorter, she took to going out to the beach in violent autumn storms. She even went so far as to go down when Alan was at home, and he would sit at the window, watching her - worrying for her soul as he marveled at her beauty. She had red hair. It curled in sopping wet ringlets down to her waist, framing her breasts and still-beautiful face. She had blue-green eyes, the color unique and never just the same; it had reminded Alan of the ocean since the day they had met.
            Why wouldn't she tell him? She had never kept a secret from him before. What could possibly have happened that long day at the beach? He promised himself he would never leave her, no matter how far she went, watched her dance in the breakers in the pelting rain.
            She knew Alan was up there watching her, looking over the back of the loveseat through the window. Why couldn't she tell him? What would he do if she did... The undying singularity of his love was painful to her, though it was at times her greatest comfort.
            The rain poured down, and the thunder crashed. Stars exploded in distant galaxies, trees grew, and somewhere porpoises made love. The wind swirled and sang, the indifference of the ocean like the purest joy of all, love sinking unreflected into its glorious depths. The seagulls understood this, wheeling in pairs and catching fish for themselves as the clouds reluctantly parted... wasn't living only this easy...

            Alan's heart soared the day she started talking to him again. She sat gracefully beside him on the loveseat after breakfast. In a way neither of them were surprised when she began to speak. Her soft voice described in calm poetry the wrongs humankind had done to the planet. Alan listened patiently, part of him longing to defend the species against her quiet criticism, but he didn't dare to interrupt or put any space between them. She kissed him for the first time in weeks, while she described the dying rainforests, the horrors wrought on the natural world by the chemicals humans left in the environment. She began to say something more, about the fishing industry, about an island in Japan, but she lapsed into silence without completing the thought. He held her hand for a long moment, gazed into her eyes, dark as the storm. He started to speak softly, of art and science, quantum mechanics, Beethoven's ninth... geodesic domes and the Voyager probe. She listened patiently, part of her longing to feel his side of the story, but she didn't dare disturb her own temporary peace.
            The next morning he found a long list on her pillow next to his, species brought to extinction by man. He got up and ran through the house, but she, like them, had left without saying goodbye.
            So be it, he could understand her point of view, if not the intensity which she seemed to feel it. She returned that evening, quietly acknowledging his acceptance. He worked beside Deborah as she began to live again, dutifully writing to congressmen, following the rise and fall of environmental laws, sending saved up pennies to environmental organizations. She could laugh and talk again, sometimes he caught himself thinking she was as she used to be. But she was not.
            There was a look deep in her eyes, as if she were lost and couldn't find her way home. It hurt Alan to see it there, even when he was holding her in his arms. Her nightmares ceased, but there were nights she would cry herself to sleep and nothing could comfort her.
            I love you Alan, she would say, but he felt that she had another love as well, unrealized and destroying her. He followed her down to the beach one cool morning, put his arms around her as she stood in the shallow waves. She turned to gaze at him, startled, the look in her eyes deepening to a happiness he had not seen in months. He kissed her lips, feeling for a moment as if things were real again, teasingly asked as he used to, "Debbie, sweet Debbie, who do you love?"... She looked at him, feeling for a moment as if they were real again, her answer as trusting as it used to be, "You, my precious, you, and.."
            They both froze, eyes locked. "And?", Alan asked, painfully aware of the fear in her eyes, mingled with truth.
            She didn't answer, but turned around, leaning back against his chest and gazing out over the water. He followed her eyes to the horizon, blue ocean sparkling in the sunlight. She glanced back at him for a moment, looking for a feeling that wasn't there. Silence. "I will show you someday, I promise I will."

            She began to bring home books from the library, piles of books. He glanced over the titles as she sat reading in the loveseat; all books on dolphins. He accepted this too, quietly finding her new books at small bookstores and handing them to her wordlessly. She read them all.
            She began to tell him about the dolphins, her voice filled with pleasure as she described their intelligence, compassion, their smooth, supple bodies and their fondness for children. Her eyes lighted as she realized he was listening, she cried the time he painted a picture of a bright eyed bottlenose jumping over the waves.
            He borrowed the books she had read, ancient lore and modern science. He felt the dolphins enigmatic, and no two writers told the same story of them.
            He fancied he began to understand her fascination with the creatures, started taking her books to work with him and pouring over them at lunch. He attempted to debate issues of intelligence, language and captivity with her...she would only smile and shake her head.
            He coaxed her into sharing his interests again, taking her to plays and art galleries, lectures on technology. He'd talk about anthropology and project SETI and 60's idealism with her, eyes shining until he realized she wouldn't answer, her gaze resting on the headlines of the weekend newspaper - another oil spill, another war in the middle east...
            She took some of the money they had saved for a vacation, bought herself a celtic harp on a whim. She would go down by the ocean and play it, every day, taking meticulous care of it in the salty air. Alan took his paints down beside her, learning to love her more than ever.. He hung the picture he painted beside the window, the one behind the love seat. He looked at it often, though she never did, long red hair and thin fingers on the harp strings. She shook her head now when he said he thought her beautiful. Caressed her own body, eyes nearly resentful; a gift she didn't want and had to keep.

     /;       Something in her was peaceful now though, she no longer cried, the pain in her eyes had faded to a streak of biting cynicism. The atmosphere of the house was one of waiting, the time she spent with her harp stretched out longer and longer. She played it beautifully, Alan would tease her lovingly about becoming a siren and luring hapless sailors to their doom. She laughed at that, touched his body like her harp strings...and returned to sit on the beach, gazing out at the water.
            Fall had almost passed now, their sunbelt "winter" weather was cool and pleasant. Deborah began to tell Alan her dreams again, surreal stories of music in the oceans. She went down to the beach to play her harp at sunrise one morning, the exquisitely beautiful melody waking Alan, who wandered fascinated out to listen. It rose and soared, arched and dipped and echoed...beckoning across the waves. Alan listened for hours, startling when he felt a difference to the melody, like another voice in a duet. The music grew more compelling still, the seagulls fell silent. Deborah didn't move, her eyes fixed on the horizon, fingers tirelessly drawing notes from her instrument. She showed no sign of surprise when the dolphins came, only trembled slightly, and slowly left off playing.
            They picked up where she left of, gracefully arching and leaping in counterpoint to their whistled echo of her song. She swam out to where they waited, just beyond the shallows, for hours they swam around her. Alan watched them in silence, as entranced as he had been with Debbie's music.

            That night as they lay side by side in bed, Deborah gazed over at him, her expression radiant, and whispered "They understand." Alan looked at the flickering question in her eyes, and asked "Can I be with you?" She didn't answer, only lay back against him and closed her eyes.
            His dreams that night were of the dolphins, tranquillity in starlit seas. He woke to her embrace and questioning eyes.
            He smiled at her, nodded. She held him tight, allowing for his soft murmuring of scientific method, he had always had a gift for turning skepticism to poetry. He reassured her that love worth having was worth sharing, that no two people saw the world exactly the same. She quieted him, repeating a promise that she wouldn't leave, swearing she would love their children anyway... He smiled at the caring in her eyes, mingled with truth. That afternoon on the beach, she showed him how to play her celtic harp.