Extracts from a paper diary found along with several keepsakes in a box under the floorboards of the top bedroom in January 2117, dating between 2030 and 2035:
4 February, 2030
Okay, so we hadn't actually been up into the attic until today. Look, we've only been moved into this cottage for… one year and 5 months. It's nice to have a place that has so much more space than both Mark and I had, and we've been busy decorating everything since.
Anyway I don't need to justify myself to a diary. We had the surveyors from the loft conversion company here this morning, and everything looks good up there, surprisingly. There's a couple of bits of the roof that will need re-tiling (apparently we're lucky it hasn't leaked more) but they say the actual structure is in good shape. We'll have some designs to look at next week!
Apparently the executors of the previous owners' wills, who we bought this place from, hadn't done a very thorough clear-out after the residents passed away. There was an old cardboard box up there, tucked away in the corner behind a beam. It's about foot wide and deep, with "Julia and Katie - Memories" written on the side in shaky but neat marker pen. We're going to phone the estate agents tomorrow and see if they have an address we can send it on to.
9 May, 2030
The apple tree we ordered arrived today! It's bigger than we expected, it needs both of us to move it and digging a hole for it in the garden is going to take some work this weekend. Just as well we didn't order two; this one will give us plenty of apples if it survives being re-planted.
Work on the loft conversion is going well, too. They fitted the skylight window today and it's going to look amazing when we've got the carpet in and walls painted. It almost seems a shame to have it as the guest bedroom rather than using it ourselves, but our main bedroom has a nice en-suite bathroom that Mark loves. I might put a couch up there to read on during sunny days, though.
11 May, 2030
Gosh, I'm exhausted. We spent all day digging a hole big enough to get the apple tree's roots into. Tree goes in tomorrow.
Also got a call from the estate agents out of the blue. They'd been in touch with the old owners' executors and apparently we can just throw the box we found away. How sad! We haven't looked in it—it seems like it would be an invasion of privacy given we didn't even know the deceased, but just throwing away a box of keepsakes and memories seems wrong too. I guess we'll have to figure something out, but I need to sleep now.
12 May, 2030
I'm sore and exhausted tonight! The apple tree went in, eventually. Turns out we'd dug the hole too deep! We had to take the tree out again—before we'd filled in the hole, thankfully—and backfill some soil. Mark had the lovely idea of putting the attic box in there with some of the soil, as an alternative to just throwing it out. Perhaps he was just trying to get out of shovelling more earth, but I loved the idea. If anyone ever finds it in the future it'll be like a time capsule!
11 Oct, 2034
I can't remember the last time Mark and I said more than simple hellos to each other. It must have been some time between now and us moving into this cottage together, six years ago today. I remember those days well, frolicking in the garden in the spring, redecorating the place one room at a time, all the way up to the loft conversion. I still love it up there, though Mark now sleeps in the guest room; I never explicitly turfed him out, but he'd ended up using it after an argument so many times I guess we just ended up seeing it as normal at bedtime. He always preferred having the en suite bathroom anyway.
14 Oct, 2034
We brought in the first of the ripe apples today, a shared activity that we actually both enjoy. Some days I think the only reason we haven't got divorced is because neither of us could stand to lose that tree. I'm not even sure what variety it is and I bet Mark has forgotten too; at any rate the apples taste unlike any variety I've found in the supermarket.
Mark will just eat his ones straight out the basket. I make apple pie using mine and Mark won't even touch that. We joked when we planted the thing that we'd never actually get the same experience out of the shared venture. Still, my pies can use the windfall apples so my way is less wasteful.
18 Oct, 2034
I had a bizarre dream last night. I was in my bedroom, except it was before the loft conversion and with just a loose wooden floor and dust mites visible in a beam of sunshine coming in from a couple of gaps in the roof. I was younger than I am now, and had red hair for some reason. Mark was there too, except he was a woman, a brunette about my age in the dream. We were making out until a knock on the attic's hatch woke me up… even though it was in the dream?
Obviously it's stuck with me all day. And maybe it's my imagination but Mark's been giving me some odd glances too. Though it might just have been because I was distracting him watching TV while I was peeling apples for sauce.
25 November, 2034
I wish I could lucid dream. In my dreams redhead-me and lady-Mark have been getting up to all sorts of things. Picnics in a quiet forest; nude swimming in a small river that ran through a lush valley; various other things that have been making me question my sexuality (though once awake, I'm definitely still into guys). Today I suggested to Mark that we cook a meal together. He seemed a little surprised, as I guess he would be. We always used to cook together a lot but sometimes we don't even eat the same meal any more. I'd only remembered that because of one of the dreams. We had a pretty good time; it was like hanging out with an old friend again.
5 December, 2034
I think we're getting older. In the dreams, that is. Lady-Mark was upset about a greying hair, but I reassured her that I'd love her even when she was entirely grey; even if she lost it altogether. That cheered her up. We were going to the theatre later and we helped each other into our fancy clothing which we joked we were both getting far too old to pull off.
22 December, 2034
Holy shit. Something happened today and it was far beyond the point of being a coincidence. Earlier this evening Mark and I were discussing plans for New Year when I remembered one of the recent dreams.
"Maybe I should dye my hair red for it," I mused, thinking of my dreams.
He looked up at me suddenly. "Red?"
"Um. Yes. Sorry, that was out of nowhere for you. It's just that I've had dreams where I've—"
"—where you were a redhead and I was, uh, brown haired?"
We figured it out at nearly the same moment.
"Have we been having the same dreams?"
"Well, there's one way to find out." Mark got his phone out. "I'll write down stuff from mine, and you do the same."
I got my phone out. I've still got the note I wrote here:We're two women. I'm redhead. Mark brunette. Loft conversion not done yet. Started young now middle aged.
I don't have Mark's copy but we switched phones at the time and it was pretty similar. He hadn't written down the ageing thing but had noticed it matched up pretty closely with the days he'd been eating apples from the apple tree.
"Do you remember that box we buried along with the apple tree when we did the loft conversion?"
It sounds ridiculous writing this out now. Apples infused with the memories of dead soulmates? At any rate, we talked about it for the rest of the evening and started sketching out a timeline of the lives of them/our dream personas. We both wanted to dream more tonight, so we ate two apples each from our somewhat dwindling stockpile (how does Mark manage them raw? They're much better as cooking apples) and I should probably be actually going to sleep rather than writing this all up in bed.
2 June, 2035
It's been a while since I last wrote anything here. Things have been pretty intense. Gosh, where to start.
Mark and I renewed our vows to each other yesterday. We had some friends over and I think most of them were quite confused as to where this had come from! Mark's had no idea we'd ever been having difficulties, of course, whereas mine didn't understand how we'd turned it around so quickly. I told them we'd been having some marriage counselling, hah! I guess it's not entirely untrue. The two ladies have been a guide for us, in a way.
I don't even think I've mentioned the joint dreams here. Mark and I managed to share a dream a couple of times, when we ate similar amounts of apple at the same time before going to bed. I can't tell you how much that has thrown my world upside down. It must have been even weirder for Mark; I only had to deal with different hair to my normal style (though I did dye it red for the wedding, much to my friends' confusion. Couldn't get Mark into a white wedding dress, though… more's the pity.) Anyway, in those dreams we seemed to be in control of ourselves rather than merely living out memories, and stepping out of our usual personas turned out to be really good for discussing our relationship and how we could reconnect with each other.
Our dream selves—Julia and Katie, the couple from the box of memories—got married in their late sixties, having been together since their twenties. We've speculated that if they got married shortly after same-sex weddings became recognised here, they must've been born around 1950 and got together in the 1970s. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have to hide their relationship for so long, but they made it work. Occasionally our dreams would surface a memory of them fighting, but I guess the box we planted didn't include a lot of unhappy memories and the dreams usually showed us them resolving their differences and celebrating that afterwards.
5 September, 2035
This year's apples are ripening up and we'll probably be harvesting them soon. After watching a soppy film with Mark, I looked at my entry from the re-wedding, and felt like I needed to write how the story ended:
Julia and Katie grew old and happy together. When we'd finished the last of last year's apple harvest around mid Febrary, the dreams stopped too. We held them a vigil in the garden, around the apple tree, with tea lights placed around the trunk, to thank them for sharing their lives with us. I wonder if they'll return next year.