Korali woke with a start. Looking around she realized she was in her bedroom, in bed with her pajamas on. “It was just a dream,” she whispered. “but if so, how’d I get here?” she wondered. After using the bathroom, she walked to the doorway. A part of her filled with dread about what she might find. The other part convinced it was all a dream, was disappointed that there wasn’t a boyfriend; that she was still the single nerd. It was also disappointing because that meant the promotion wasn’t real either.
Taking a deep breath, Korali opened her bedroom door. Staring at the floor she felt relief. There weren’t any ashes, so it had to be a dream. Her eyes drifted to the table, dirty plates were still there, two sets, and candles. Confusion started to set in. “But that part of the dream was true,” she whispered to herself. Looking around, the pots and pans were still on the stove from the meal she had prepared, pillows were scattered on the couch as if something more than just her sitting watching movies had happened.
Tears stung her eyes. “Where’s my phone?” she wondered. The ashes were missing and she had been in her bed, but everything else in the dream seemed to have happened. The good parts were still there. Korali searched the entire apartment for her phone before finding it amongst the couch cushions. It was dead. Sighing in frustration, Korali plugged it in, then busied herself taking care of the leftovers and doing the dishes.
As she cleaned everything up, her mind whirled with questions; making up several situations, each one more unbelievable than the last. The thoughts made her so nervous she almost broke a couple of the plates because her fingers lost their ability to grip. “The phone,” she thought. “The phone will tell me if Koratar is real, or just a dream.”
Korali pulled her phone off the charger. Forty percent would be enough. Sitting on the couch, she unlocked it. She had two missed calls and two voicemails. One was her parents. The voicemail congratulated her on her promotion at work. The other one was from a number she was unsure if she knew. The number seemed familiar, but hadn’t been saved I her phone. Had it been the boyfriend Koratar from the dream, she would have saved the name. The number had left a voicemail, so she turned it on speaker and listened to it.
“Hi Korali. I’m sure by the time you listen to this voicemail, you’ll be confused about the past evening’s events. Some you will believe to be true, while other parts will seem like it was just a dream. None of it was a dream, it’s all true. My name is Koratar, it means Black Prince. I am a demon. You were an assignment from the Council of Demons. I was supposed to turn you onto the dark path. It was believed if you could be turned, so could the rest of humanity. That’s how it started two weeks ago when we met, but the more time I spent with you, the more I developed feelings. Demons aren’t supposed to have feelings, so my life, to the Council of Demons became forfeit. But… I fell in love with you. Every touch, every conversation, made me desire to be a real human so I could be with you. I loved you Korali. I really want you to understand that… I loved you. I’m sorry for the deception, and I’m sorry for what you witnessed. I hope one day you’ll forgive me.”
The voicemail ended. Korali had tears running down her face, but she barely noticed. She sat on the couch, staring at the TV. In the black screen, all the memories of the two week romance with Koratar came back. She could clearly see the events of the previous day. Everything came back in a rush, the joy, the excitement, the passion… the fear, confusion, the grief.
Oblivious to the tears, and the constant drip from her nose, Korali continued to sit and stare at the TV. She felt numb. The weight of realization threatened to crush her. The shell she had opened for a relationship that was to never bear any fruit, had been crushed. The longer she sat there the further down she fell, until finally despite the numbness, Korali broke out in sobs. “Why?” was the only word that circled her thoughts. All the words to the questions had been said before.
“I just want him back,” she said to the couch pillow. Demon or not Koratar care for me,” she told the pillow between sobs. Her eyes were heavy from all the crying and were starting to close. The tears were slowing. “I forgive you Koratar,” she whispered. “I just wish you could come back. We’d start over. I’d forgive you, and we’d… start… ov…” her words drifted off as her eyes closed.
Koratar smiled, as he sat on his lonely little cloud, looking down at Korali. He had heard everything she had said. The heaviness he had been experiencing dissipated when Korali had said she forgave him. When Koratar first showed up on his little cloud he had felt confused and uncertain about everything. That was, until he had heard his own voice on Korali’s phone. Before showing up on the cloud, the last moments that he remembered were, watching his body turn to ash, and Korali’s fearful, yet be grieved look as she witnessed his decimation. Her face was the last thing he had seen before complete blackness.
Then from nothingness came his awareness of being on a cloud. It was a sad grey cloud, made for one, but he was aware once more. Even better, he had his body. Not his wispy black demon form, but the human form he so loved, more specifically, the young human form he took on when he met Korali.
He had even been able to handle the heavy weighted down feeling, he first felt after he noticed that his cloud allowed him to see and hear everything Korali did and said. He had watched her get out of bed. She had looked so refreshed, not one sign of what she had gone through the night before visible. He had even given the thought, like she had, that the bad parts had just been a dream, until he’d heard his voice on her phone. But now she was asleep.
It was now Koratar’s turn to let the questions run through his mind. The main one was, “How am I still here?”
“This was how things needed to work,” A voice sounded, from where Koratar was uncertain. “You willingly accepted the assignment I gave you. You did as I asked, and gracefully sauntered downward with your fallen brethren.” Koratar turned all around trying to find the voice that spoke. He knew the voice, but didn’t understand what the Holy One was saying. He just sat on his knees looking up, waiting for further explanation. “All you need to understand right now, is that you did as I asked, and brought to pass things that needed to occur; now to fulfill my end. You have a big welcome for you at the gates,” the voice paused, “or you can choose to go back,” the voice finished.
“Go back?” Koratar questioned as he stood, while still gazing upwards. As he stood, an image of him in the Holy One’s private chamber flashed through his mind.
“She may have her doubts about being my child, but she still speaks to me. She wants you back, you heard that yourself. If you so choose, I can send you back, as a human. You two can grow old together. It is your…”
“I want to go back,” Koratar voiced before the Holy One could finish the sentence.
“Are you sure? You have so many waiting to see you,” the voice responded.
“I want to go back to Korali. I want to make her my wife.”
“Then it will come to pass,” the voice said. Koratar was sure the Holy One was smiling. He felt the urge to sleep, so he lay on his cloud and closed his eyes.
When he opened his eyes again, light was streaming through the blinds of his apartment. “My apartment,” he thought quickly going to the mirror. He was the human that Korali would know. As he looked in the mirror, he remembered everything… being a demon, his assignment to turn Korali, falling in love with her, being turned to ash, and the lonely grey cloud; the cloud where he received this second chance. Searching inside himself, he knew he was now completely human. He was human, and Korali would be waking soon; he had to go see her.
Koratar changed clothes, changing over all the items from his pockets, then ran out the door. He didn’t have a moment to lose. He ran all the way across town to Korali’s apartment. He dug through his pockets; the key she had given him on their fourth date was still among the items he had kept in his pocket. Using it, he unlocked the door, and stepped inside. No voice called out as he shut and relocked the door.
Carefully walking further into the apartment he saw that she was still asleep on the couch. Koratar went and knelt beside it. “Korali,” he whispered giving her a gentle shake. “Korali, wake up, it’s me.”
Korali’s eyes slowly opened. As they came into focus on his face her eyes went wide. “Kori,” she whispered. “Kori, are you really here?” she asked reaching out to touch his face.
He held her hand against his cheek. “Yes, Korali, it’s really me.”
“But…how… you… ash…”
Koratar smiled. He knew Korali always struggled getting her thoughts across before she’d had coffee. “Because of you,” he replied. “Your silent prayer brought me back, and I’m completely human, no demons. We… we can be together, a normal couple until we grow old and die.” Korali smiled, wrapping him in a hug. She had Koratar back. Everything was good again.
A couple months later at a dinner celebrating Korali’s new promotion, Koratar got down on one knee. He told her that he couldn’t see himself with anyone else, and asked her to marry him. Korali had been so excited she could only squeal and nod her head yes.
A year after that, Koratar was carrying Korali over the threshold of their new house, as a newly wedded husband and wife. A hound puppy bounced up to meet them. While Koratar could still remember his time as a demon, he knew that he was a different being now, just a human; a human that got to marry the love of his life, would have children, and get to grow old. Koratar knew that with Korali now by his side, the possibilities of where their lives would go were endless. He was excited to see where his second chance would lead him.