“Catalina.” Air brushed against my hair as I was jarred awake from the restless sleep that I had fallen into. It took a while for me to settle down, to ease my frazzled nerves as I heard each sound that roamed through the house.
“Come to me Catalina.” My eyes adjusted to the dark, and I saw a white figure hovering in front of me. I blinked, the apparition disappearing. When I finally exhaled, the cold air was visible in front of me. I embraced myself, building up the courage to investigate what I just saw.
“William?” I called out, grabbing my jacket and wrapping it around myself. I ran out of the room, still calling his name.
“My love. Don’t leave me.” At the end of the long hallway, William stood, as clear as the picture that hung from the wall. A calmness settled in my body, the unease and fear from earlier disappearing. William smiled as he moved towards me, light as air. He was magnificent. It was bewitching watching him glide above the floor. I held my breath as he moved in front of me. Reaching out his hand, he brushed my cheek.
“I can feel you.” I said as I closed my eyes reveling in his touch. It was soft, delicate, almost as if he was afraid he would break me.
“Are you real?” I whispered.
“You believe in our love, so I am here.” I opened my eyes just as William smiled. “You’re more beautiful than I remember, Catalina.”
“I’m not Catalina.” I stumbled, falling back against the wall. My chest heaved, fear taking me over. He thought I was her. The love of his life.
“Oh, but you are. Remember.” He breathed out, his lips pressing against mine. Warmth enveloped me, the cold that nipped in the air disappearing. I was as light as the air that William floated through. Everything went white; my mind playing snap shots of moments that I didn’t even know were a part of me. Then it came to me, a memory as fresh as if I was living it this very moment. William and Catalina.
A fire cracked in the corner, two bodies fused together as if they were one.
“Please don’t go. I fear you won’t make it back to me.” William’s hand flitted across the woman’s bare stomach. He pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead, stroking her hair with his free hand.
“I will come back to you my love. You and our unborn child.” I couldn’t see the woman, no matter how hard I tried. My mind was blocking my view. I knew it was Catalina, the woman who stole William’s heart. I could feel it within my own as I was watching the last moments that these two shared together unfold. No one was certain what she looked like. People said her skin was sun-kissed, her eyes as green as emeralds. But that was it, history had no more knowledge.
“I know. You’d never let anything happen to us.” I could hear the smile in her voice.
“Never.” He whispered against her hair. William stood up, dressing in his uniform and preparing to depart. Catalina stood up, wrapping the sheet around herself before turning to face William.
Placing her hand on his heart, she spoke. “Remember us here, in your heart when you’re fighting in battle. Know that no matter what happens, what you see, what you do, I will be here waiting for you.” Stepping on her tiptoes, she placed a gentle kiss to his lips. William backed away, and then I saw her, Catalina.
Her eyes, almond shaped and green, were a direct contrast to her caramel colored skinned. Catalina was beautiful, in an exotic way; her high cheek bones and slender frame made it difficult to take your eyes off of her. But, that isn’t what captivated me, what made me close my eyes and shake my head to look again, it was because she looked just like me.
“William!” I called out as I was brought back from the vision. He was gone, disappearing with the cool air that was now warmer than before. I looked like her, the woman who was taken from the world too soon. Doubt crept in. I couldn’t be her. That memory was from more than 150 years ago. Yet something about what I saw, felt so real. Her fear for William going off to war still lingered in my chest like a dull ache right over my heart. My lips were slightly swollen from the kiss that they shared. And my cheeks were heated from the fire that laid in front of me before he left. Everything seemed so real.
I wasn’t sure where Catalina ended and I began. All I knew is that I had a week to uncover the truth behind who she was and to give William the peace he so desperately deserved.