Living Ghosts

The dreams were taking over. I still lived my life as I should, went to college, did assignments, even went out drinking and laughing with my friends; but it was a pretence, ever since Kamil, my best friend from school, had been hit by a car. I’d been with him. When he’d crumpled to the floor like a sack of broken bones. I’d held him, but he never opened his eyes. He didn’t know I’d held him. He’d vanished in a moment, but I’d carried on. And then the dreams had started.

Mostly they weren’t dreams of him, they were dreams of vampires and werewolves biting and tearing their way through the streets. Or dreams of earthquakes and tsunamis destroying the city, plucking me from the alleyway and throwing me against buildings so that I could feel the snap and crush. Dreams of death and violence, so that each day I would drift in a daze through classes and conversations, half-seeing horrors. The days had a muted emptiness that the dreams never had, so that waking life faded. How could I really care about grades and crushes, when I knew that night I would be smashed through the window of a high rise or see my rib cage ripped apart and my heart pulled out?

The last few days the dreams have been different, no blood, no terror. Instead I find myself walking through a street, a clean suburban street with clouds of cherry blossom and clipped lawns. I find myself walking with my sister, Asha. Each time we’re walking across the road and I feel myself tense, but there are no cars, there’s no danger. We walk up to one of the pretty houses with a blue door and a hanging basket filled with dead flowers and my sister nudges me so that I reluctantly open the door, feeling a surge of sadness, but no idea why. Then I wake up and carry that unnamed feeling of sorrow with me all day. I sit in the History lectures with my friends. I pretend again.

Last night I dreamt that I opened the door and we went inside. The house was nice, a little dusty, but you could tell someone had loved it; little touches like the semi-antique table in the hall, on it a shell with keys in. On the wall hung a few photos in ornate frames. The kind with curly carvings in gold. One of the photos was of me, another of a Jack Russell terrier leaping to catch a Frisbee. The third photo was of a young woman with dark eyes and a shy smile. Her eyes were set slightly too close together and her nose a little too big for her to be conventionally attractive, but that just meant her beauty took me by surprise, snuck up on me. The photo showed her from the waist up, looking straight at the camera, straight into my eyes.

“You ok bruv,” said Asha, her hand on my arm, her voice gentle.

“Who is she?” I asked, pointing at the photo.

“You know. She’s your wife. She’s gone now, I’m sorry,” there was a pause, I knew Asha was trying to work out the right words to use, to coax me. “The cancer took her, she’s gone, but it’s going to be ok.”

It wasn’t a violent dream, but it’s stayed with me, given me a sense of unease and it was a relief to meet up in the canteen and act normal. We swapped notes on the French Civil War and bitched about Professor Wilson and his constant throat clearing and pen tapping. We took too long choosing expresso toppings and then had to run to class. Normal.

As soon as we got to class that illusion shattered. There were three new students. We were warned last week that new students would be joining us for ‘budget reasons’, in other words, their college had run out of funds. Two of the students were regular guys, trying to look confident and failing. And the third was her, my wife from the dream. My dead wife.

I didn’t learn much history. I kept glancing across the rows of seats to where she sat. Each time I thought It can’t be her, I’ve made a mistake. Each time it was her, same dark eyes and hawk-like nose. Even worse, she kept catching me looking at her and then ducking her head away. No doubt she thought I was a stalker, and what could I say that would convince her otherwise? I saw you in my dreams?

The relief I felt when the class ended wasn’t satisfying, I just wanted to escape, bolt out the door. I mumbled something about securing a seat in the canteen and gathered up my books. I was working my way down the tiers to the exit, but she was standing in my way, the girl from my dream. I was already apologising when I realised that she was too.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to freak you out, I know I was staring. I just wanted to explain,” she said. Her eyes were on the floor, then up at me, chocolate brown and scared. In my desperate state, for a moment I thought it must have been me speaking, because those were the words I would have said. She went on,

“I know I must seem weird, but can I…talk to you? About something?”

I nodded dumbly. She floundered for a minute, trying to find the right words, I smiled to ease her and she gave a sheepish grin back and shrugged.

“Look, this is crazy. It’s just I had this dream last night and you…you were in it.”

“What?” I said, a bit harsher than I intended. I thought I might have scared her, but actually she got a little more sure of herself, she stood straighter and started to speak more quickly.

“It was a silly dream, nothing really happened. It couldn’t, because I couldn’t move, I was just sort of standing there. I remember wishing I could move, but it’s like I was frozen. I was looking out of this window, but it wasn’t really like a window, it had a golden ledge, carved. And you were there. You were looking right back at me. It was just a dream, but I know it was you. You were pointing at me. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it was you.”

2 thoughts on “Living Ghosts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s