Through the Land of Giant Hearts and Precious Dreams

Submitted into Contest #196 in response to: Write a story involving a portal into a parallel universe.... view prompt

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Drama Speculative Romance

He wasn't much good at waiting but walking into the office of the woman you've loved for decades unannounced wasn't a great tactic. The fact this version of Heath Breeland stood seven inches taller than the original only added to his conundrum. It would be one thing if LeeAnn recognized him and totally another to explain it. 

The last time they spoke, Heath the OG made a lighthearted remark, suggesting that if he could only find a portal to a parallel universe, he'd show up at her door, flowers in one hand, hope in the other. And, in the spirit of that impossibility, LeeAnn gave her harmonic laugh and readily agreed to let him in. 

Now, a week since that fateful conversation, Heath stood in the shade of a weeping willow, anxiously awaiting to capture the heart he so craved. 

He remained partially hidden and cool while keeping the front door of LeeAnn's interior design business in plain view. Rechecking his watch told him only five minutes had passed since his last glance, and it would be another hour before LeeAnn closed up shop. 

While his transformation would cause some difficulty in identification, LeeAnn was unmistakable. Standing nearly six feet tall, the woman was slender, strong, and elegant. Flowing blonde hair that often carried tints of bronze or twists of ginger bounced, swayed, and floated to the middle of her back. If she wore her hair up, it revealed a long, graceful neck, small ears, and a well-shaped, feminine jaw. 

The centerpiece of her beauty lay in a smile that beamed warmth, kindness, and good humor, and above a delicate Nordic nose were eyes that dazzled in a yet unnamed combination of blue, green, and gold. 

Heath had known LeeAnn for nearly forty years. From early childhood, laughing and playing in the innocence of youth, through their teenage years until a break caused by the arrival of adulthood and all that goes with it. In the decades since their paths diverged, Heath had yet to lay eyes on a woman as beautiful as her. 

Inexplicably, the universe decided to grant his wish, and Heath hoped, maybe LeeAnn's too. 

***

Being an archeologist was rarely, if ever, like scenes from Indiana Jones. During his accomplished but dull career, Heath never discovered lost cities secreting treasures guarded by booby-trapped corridors. The closest he'd come to anything like that was helping excavate the foundations of buried structures that surprised him with a few snakes and spiders. 

Everything changed when he was summoned to the site of the ancient Phoenician site in Sardinia, but he wasn't on his hand and knees scooping primordial soil into a sieve when he saw it. 

Adhering to the Italian fashion of shutting down work in the mid-afternoon hours, he'd taken his lunch pack and walked to a lone olive tree sitting in a hollow on the hill. Having eaten a remarkably delicious Italian tomato and cheese sandwich and enjoyed the overly sweet but addictive limoncello carbonated beverage, Heath made a headrest from his pouch, then stretched in the shade of the tree with the air warm against his skin and lulled by the rhythmic wash of the sea against the shore. 

Still unaccustomed to napping midway through the day, he'd rolled over, turning his face toward the twisting bark at the base of the tree when the glow of a soft blue light caught his eye. 

At first, he'd thought it was a reflection off his watch, a stone, or something else catching the sun, bouncing back a spot of the azure sea, but instead, the light seemed to be emanating from within the root structure. Being a digger, he began scratching away the earth from the tangle, and as more the light shone, the soil around began to fall deeper into a void beneath the tree. With hardly any work, the small opening grew to a chasm pulsing with a blue hue. 

Before the Phoenicians settled the area, the land was home to the Nuragic, a civilization dating back to the 1900s B.C. Not much is known about those peoples despite leaving the landscape dotted with over 700 structures, including the 350 Tomba dei Gigant- Tombs of Giants, and the awe-inspiring water temple, named the Sanctuary of Santa Maria, an intricate designed subterranean well that aligned with moon phases experts declared would be hard to replicate today. The fact primitive peoples made it remains unexplained. 

Heath quickly ran through his mental notes on what he knew of them and their history, but nothing about an olive tree with roots of blue light rang a bell. 

He dug deeper.

The hard-packed earth, a mixture of limestone and clay, began to soften until a wide swath of it sloughed away into the hole below, and now Heath could see that the blue light came from somewhere further down. The shimmering that caught his eye was a reflection bouncing off the congealed sap that clung to the root structure in great globs. The opening, large enough for him to easily slide into, left him with a choice; go or stay. Curiosity is crucial to being a successful archeologist, so he'd only faintly considered the latter. 

With a final look over his shoulder, Heath grabbed his pack and slid into the abyss. 

***

By the time he'd jogged across the parking lot and crossed the street, LeeAnn had locked the door behind her and strolled around the corner. An unrealistic fear of having her vanish around the turn gripped his heart. 

Dressed smartly in a loose white blouse decorated with floral stitchings of pinks, purples, reds, and stems of green over top form-fitting blue slacks, LeeAnn strode along in a pair of white heels matching her shirt. With her head up and her long, wavy curls bouncing over her shoulders, the woman moved along the sidewalk with the grace and poise of a model, having forgotten the impact of her beauty on passersby. 

"LeeAnn!" Heath called out between breaths as he hurried to catch up.

It was a marvelous habit of hers–always greeting someone with a smile, and when she turned to address the source of her beckoning, Heath stumbled, then stopped. Standing still and gazing at her, he smiled. It had been too long since he'd laid his eyes upon her. And, as usual, he cursed under his breath, never able to process her beauty; "Lord have mercy."

Her smile faded as she looked in the face of her caller. Her eyes held recognition and confusion. She took a step backward, then glanced over both shoulders to verify her surroundings before returning her gaze to the strange but familiar man standing before her.

A burst of nervous laughter came from her throat as she braved a step closer, then, shaking her head, she spoke, doubting the words that left her lips. 

"This isn't real. Heath?" 

"Hello, LeeAnn," he replied, handing her a bouquet of exotic orchids, lilies, and roses. "Yes. It's me. Heath. I found it–the portal. It happened."

“Hah-hah-ha!” She threw her back, her long neck extending and hair falling away from her ears, revealing a set of gold hoops swinging at a pendulum's pace. Clapping her hands made a crisp smack, and she responded with a robust laugh. "Nice try. He's clever, I'll admit, but this is going too far, even for him!" 

Heath laughed, at her, himself, the absurdity of the situation, and the impossibility of having to explain it convincingly. 

Waving a long and beautifully manicured finger at him, she replied. "And I'm a member of the Royal Family living in obscurity rather than a single mother and over-worked decorator!" 

Heath stepped closer and watched LeeAnn's smile evaporate once again. She narrowed her eyes, looking him over closely. 

"But. It can't be–can it?" she asked, moving a step closer to him. "Can it?"

"It can't, but I promise it is. It's me. I'm real. It happened." With an avalanche of words, Heath recounted the events in Sardinia, what he found, how it happened, and how he came to see himself standing before her today, the same man, albeit much taller and slightly slimmer but with the same white in his hair, the same face and eyes. 

Listening without interruption, LeeAnn erased the remaining space between them, raised a hand to his face, and finally spoke. "But how? How are you taller? How can you be different but the same?" 

"From them, the Nuragic. Consequentially, they are real, living in underground cities you can't imagine. You have to see it to believe it, and in case you were wondering, the legends are true–they are giants."

Looking up at him, LeeAnn ran her fingers through his thick hair, her fingertips softly brushing along his chin, then she took the flowers from his hand and giggled. "You're more handsome as a taller man."

 Suddenly becoming aware of the two of them standing in the street, she dropped her hand from his face and took his hand. "Okay, this whole business requires a drink. Come with me."

The fold of her fingers over his sent waves of indescribable contentment through his entire body, and Heath, having known long ago that he would go anywhere LeeAnn led him, readily followed along. 

A few minutes later, the pair were seated at a table in the corner of the bistro, LeeAnn gazing with disbelief at Heath while he tried not to faint from the overwhelming joy of being in her company. It was all he could do to focus on answering her questions, of which there were many, and give answers as plainly as possible. 

"So, you want me to believe you fell asleep like Snow White under an olive tree, then fell into a hole in the earth and landed amongst a lost civilization of giants in underground cities." she recounted. "Then, out of the goodness of their hearts, they gave you some magic beans to make you sprout up nearly a foot, then showed you a door where you can jump through time and space?"

"Space, yes. Time, not that I know of. As far as I can tell, everything is as it was. Nothing is different except that I am here, with you, precisely how I had dreamed about a million times. And it wasn't beans, but a type of corn--I think."

 Heath looked sheepish momentarily before screwing up the courage to tell her the rest. "It wasn't random; me being here, taller, and to see you," he confessed. "They asked me to tell them my dream, and my dream is you."

LeeAnn looked at him quizzically. "What about you-you? The original version? What happens to him?" 

Heath smiled. "That's the best part! At least, I think it is." He began to explain as best as he could understand. "He's back up top in Sardinia, scraping rocks and gathering dirt into buckets–the Nuragic exist with twin souls. Each of us has a double, one that exists as a separate entity while the other remains in the community or ventures out to discover other experiences." 

LeeAnn raised the glass of Pinot Grigio and took a long drink, then set the glass back down with her impeccable French-tipped nails drumming on the stem. "And you–he, will go on living life the same way, doing the same things, thinking the same thoughts, without any knowledge of this-you running around in the world?"

"That's how I understand it, yes," Heath answered, calmly trying to mask his eagerness to tell her the next piece of information gleaned from the Nuragic giants. 

LeeAnn comically dropped her chin to her chest and shook her head, sending her long hair blustering about like a lion shaking his mane and then shrieking with amusement. 

"What's so funny? Besides everything about this?" Heath asked, reveling in the sound of her laughter. 

"OG you!" she answered. "You'd better not run into him; that guy has a very serious crush on me!" 

"Hmm. Yeah. There's a rule about that," Heath answered. "The giants made it rather clear that the twin entities must never converge. Observing the other from a distance is fine, but apparently, bad things happen when you get too close."

"How do you speak with them?" 

"It's telepathic, as far as I can figure. Their lips move, and they hum more than annunciate, but you hear everything in your head in plain English. It's rather remarkable, really."

"I bet it is," she answered. Then LeeAnn looked at Heath with serious eyes. "So, what are you going to do? Why are you here?"

Heath took her hand. Light as a feather, it rested in his. "I'm here for you, LeeAnn. I said I would come. You know how I feel about you–what I want."

Her eyes flared, and a beat of blush rose in her cheeks, then she drew her hand away. "You know that's not possible," she said. "What about my kids? My life? I can't just walk away and disappear. Sure, you showed up looking exactly like I wished for a time or two, but that doesn't mean I can drop my life and run away with you, even if I wanted."

"You don't have to. But, if you want to take the chance, to trust me, and let me love you the way I want, in the way you deserve." Heath paused. This was the scary part, and he'd run through a thousand versions of what to say and how while he waited for her to finish her work day.

He swallowed and silently prayed for the right words to come. 

"We can make portals anywhere. We can manifest whatever we want. The Nuragic showed me the universe is just a system of channels tuned to different frequencies," Heath explained. "Why, you could change anything you wanted. You can try being shorter or having hair as black as coal." A mischievous smile appeared as he offered his following words. "If you wanted to know the feeling of being more curvaceous, all you have to do is think it and wink," he said, referring to LeeAnn's past complaints of being small-breasted. "Everything is possible." 

 Heath reached into his pocket and pulled out a small cloth sack. Slipping off the tie, he turned the pouch over and emptied it onto the table. A gemstone the size of a walnut, rolled across the tablecloth. The nugget pulsed with blue light. 

"The only requirement is that your desires be true. If you believe in what you want, it's only a matter of asking." Heath explained and clasped her hands in his. "Nothing changes here. Your kids have you, and this you continues on this path." 

Heath took a gulp of air and forced himself to be vulnerable to her, the woman he'd loved as much as his other life allowed, as much as it was possible. "You can't imagine how well I could love you. I mean, I already do, but I can show you happiness. I can give you the things you've been wanting for so long. All those spaces inside of you that have ached for the kind of love I can give." 

LeeAnn felt the trickle of tears running down her cheek as she sat listening to this man who had somehow stumbled onto the impossible, found the answer to the inconceivable, and bared his heart and soul–for her. 

Through all the years of his unwavering attention, silly, romantic, comical affections, and unyielding declarations of admiration, he was here, presenting himself to her, having overcome the final, superficial, but concrete boundaries she had held. 

All he wanted was her. 

She sniffled, gave a short burst of laughter, and took her hands away from his, seizing a cloth napkin to dab her eyes. "You're going to ruin my makeup," she remarked and laughed again. But when she finished wiping her tears away and looked at him again, Heath had never seen such a beautiful face. Nodding as she spoke, her heart sent the words her mind could not find. 

"I'll never understand what I've done to make you feel this way about me," she said between laughing sobs. "I've hardly given you any attention at all, and I've never led you to believe something that wasn't true. But, ok. Yes." Then a whimsical, joyous bubble of laughter broke from somewhere deep within, and she repeated the word. "Yes."

Feeling like he was going to explode into a billion atoms, Heath was about to speak, but LeeAnn sprang from her chair, leaned across the table, threw her arms around his neck, and kissed him. "Now take me with you, and don't you dare break my heart!" she commanded. 

Squeezing her hand, Heath looked into her dazzling, sparkling eyes and told her the truth he knew.

"You are my heart." 

May 05, 2023 20:47

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4 comments

Kristin Neubauer
18:34 May 12, 2023

This is such a lovely story, Arpad. I was really impressed with your use of dialogue. It carried much of the story, and did it so well. It sounded natural, it flowed and each voice stayed true to the characters you developed. That is really hard to do. The entire story read so easily - I love work like that. Great writing!

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Arpad Nagy
23:28 May 24, 2023

Thanks so much, Kristin. Much appreciated and glad you enjoyed it.

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Rain Dyer
18:58 May 11, 2023

Hi Arpad! I got your story as my weekly circle critique. I'll write comments as I go, and try to be give the best feedback I can. It seems like the Leeann and Heath have known each other for a long time, but they've also grown a lot and saw each other last week? Good description of her appearance. Some of the sentences though are quite long and don’t need to be separate paragraphs. Smaller sentences can give a lot of emphasis! The transition is a little confusing. He suddenly starts thinking about his past? Or are we going to his past and...

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Arpad Nagy
23:27 May 24, 2023

Great feedback. Thank you. I'll read it over with your points in consideration.

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