Dreams – Part 1: The Mystery
Ah damn! Night time. Again. The woman sighed and pulled the scrunchy from her hair. Her pony tail fell out and her chestnut-coloured hair cascaded over her shoulders. She tried dismissing her worry from her mind, but it wouldn’t go. Every single night the same. And she was tired, so tired. She’d wake up from the dreams drenched in sweat, her mind fizzing with the images and the colours of a vivid and frightening dream. Every night. Every. Single. Night!
And then, within a quarter of an hour or so, she’d be fine again, the memories dissipating like a fine mist on an early summer’s morning. The rest of the day could then be spent as normal. But it was starting to take its toll, and some of the feelings from the dreams were beginning to seep into her day time as well. She was left with a sense of unease, but couldn’t put her finger on it, as she always forgot the content of the dreams.
At the moment she was single, and she was rather glad of it. A boyfriend wouldn’t be good right now. Waking up next to him, drenched in sweat at half five every morning… well that would put paid to a boyfriend, now wouldn’t it? And if she was struggling with her own feelings, she could hardly expect herself to be dealing with being considerate of someone else’s. She was fortunate in some respects, that her work wasn’t very demanding. She hadn’t made up her mind whether she wanted to be a career woman, or a lady of leisure, working just enough to enjoy her life. She did know though, that she wanted to travel before she settled down and had kids….
Kids… now what did that remind her of? Yet again, she couldn’t quite remember. Something seemed at odds with her memory. She undressed, and climbed into bed. She was making it worse for herself she knew, going to bed so late, but she had trouble dropping off. Correction, she thought, I don’t want to drop off – that’s the long and the short of it! She pulled the sheet up. Even naked, and with no duvet, she’d bet she would wake up covered in perspiration.
She’d tried many relaxing techniques, and had even considered hypnotherapy to try and ensure she was as de-stressed and calm as possible when she entered the realm of sleep. Yoga, pilates, a run before bedtime. One of her friends she’d confided in recommended her making sure there was no sexual frustration in her before sleep. Well, that at least made her happy, well satisfied, before she nodded off. But none of it made any difference. She steeled herself for yet another disturbed night. She was sure sleep would be a long time coming. But then she drifted off…
Almost immediately her senses were on edge as she wandered through a dark nightscape. She looked around her, feeling her emotions build. She could see broken, dead trees in the almost purple light. Bushes that were little more than dry and dusty balls of twigs waved as she passed, rustling in the wind. The sensations that swept over her became more and more familiar. She had been pulled into this reality and remembered it all now. She was scared that her life, her world, was being swapped with someone else’s, with her being physically dragged off from her own life. Frantic feelings were overtaking her… maternal concerns. Where are the kids? she thought, panic threatening to overwhelm her. Got to find them! Got to rescue them, and take them back home! Back home, where they’ll be safe and sound! Back home, where they’ll be safe and sound, where I can love them and cuddle them and make them feel like nothing in the world will ever hurt them!
She cast her eyes this way and that, finding nothing but an empty and dead world. Children! Come to me! she called in her mind. Or had she shouted it? Suddenly there was the flapping of wings, and a crow alighted on a nearby dead tree. It flicked its wings briefly and preened itself just as quickly with short sharp motions, before fixing her with a baleful eye. The woman was badly scared and took a step back. The crow just glared more. She was taken aback even more when she realised that the pupil of the crow’s eye was like a cat’s eye, and not a bird’s. She would have sworn if she had had the presence of mind to.
What are you waiting for? Why don’t you let me in? came the thought. She felt as if the bird were communicating with her. She must be mistaken; even here crows couldn’t commune with humans. Could they? She shivered, and then she realised she had a long dress on and she pulled the shawl she had over her arms up onto her shoulders. It was cold, and she was still panicking over her children. Please, oh please, kids, please come to me, she called out. Again, she couldn’t tell whether she had done so out loud.
The crow shifted its claws and flapped its wings; it clearly didn’t want her to move on. Yet again, unwanted sentences flowed into her mind. Don’t leave. What can you possibly need over there? I am here – I am all you need! Welcome home, mistress. Back where you belong!
But the woman had moved on, unnerved and off-balance. She had spied a lake to her right and was determined to reach it. It seemed the only natural thing in the world – and she was thirsty. Really thirsty. This parched and empty world was drying her out and she wanted to get to the lake so she could take a drink. She stumbled forwards and the crow cawed loudly behind her. Part of her suddenly wanted to go to it and stroke its head, running her fingers over the glistening, almost oily feathers. She shook her head and pressed on, almost running to get to the shore of the lake. Damn these heels! she thought. What the hell am I doing in them anyway? She removed them swiftly, and held them in one hand as she hurried on towards the lake.
As she got to the edge she realised that the lake was not as empty as the rest of the world. She came to a stop on the muddy flat by the edge and called out in pain. She lifted her right foot and grabbed it. Blood was seeping from a two inch cut along the sole of it. Ah, that bloody hurts! she yelped, squeezing the edges together to prevent it bleeding too much. At least her balance was good – those pilates sessions had paid off! Far out in the lake massive shapes were breaking through the waters and then submerging again. She could sense the evil and their vicious natures. A cold and clammy feeling wrapped around her, almost smothering her, but there was a welcome familiarity too, almost as if she enjoyed the sensation… like it was welcoming her home.
She shuddered; then she trembled some more, as she realised what had ripped open her foot. Embedded in the muddy ground was a myriad of white objects. They were bones – and they’d evidently been nibbled at. A sharp edge of a rib had been what had opened her foot; but she didn’t care. Children? Even in her mind, her voice had become shaky. She screamed…
And then she woke up. She was already in a sitting position and her heart was hammering inside her chest. It was real. It was all so real. The crow, the empty world, the lake and the skeletal remains of… what? Had it been her children…? But she had no children, so why the panic? She looked around her, the frantic feelings dissipating, her heart slowing. She forced herself to breathe more calmly. She glanced at the alarm clock. She’d taken to leaving the backlight on, so she could always see the time. 5.32… Bloody hell and bollocks! Ah well, might as well get up now, she thought.
And then she realised that not only was she drenched, yet again, in sweat, there was now extra moisture on her cheeks. Tears had clearly flowed freely, and she wiped them away with the back of her hand. She got out of bed and went to the bathroom, stumbling slightly and limping with the pain in her foot. She yanked on the light-pull as she opened the door, its light spilling into the bedroom so she could see clearly, even in the near dark, the blood from where she’d walked on the carpet visible even in the half light. She sat down heavily on the edge of the bath, and brought her leg across her knee so she could see the sole of her foot. A two-inch cut was oozing blood. What the hell? she thought. She had the momentary vision of children playing in a park, and then she saw in her mind’s eye, the park at night, with one swing gently swaying eerily in the night air.
There were tears again on her cheeks, but she didn’t try and stop them this time, even though she knew, she knew right down in the very marrow of her bones, that she was an unwed, mid-twenties – ok twenty-nine! – woman with no offspring.
So what… or who… was she mourning for?
And what on earth should she do about it? Or could…?