Return of the dream ghost

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“It is far more difficult to murder a phantom than a reality.”

Virginia Woolf

Word of the day: Alcherina – dream time

This afternoon I was playing the card game Shithead with Hamoudi and Jinjing. That game is known all over the world, turns out it’s even got a Wikipedia page. While we were playing (and I was winning, I want you to know) they started talking about their dreams again. About the sinister man who appeared in Jinjing’s dreams staring in through her window and then followed Hamoudi around the tube in real life. He is now ‘on the move.’

Rather than just being in her dreams, Jinjing has seen him in the street, on a roof and under her bed. Hamoudi saw him on the Central Line last night. While sitting in the bright kitchen playing cards and eating Bombay mix, they sounded to me like teenagers trying to scare each other with ghost stories. But now I’m back in my room sitting on my own and monsters from my own dreams have started scratching at the back of my memory. My dreams have been numerous and miserable recently, plagued with stress and sickness, but was there someone in them? A shadowy figure watching?

Nah, probably not. I suspect I’m just mixing it up with angry staring man from the train.

The difference between existing and living

Some interesting thoughts from David Swan here about the difference between living and existing. I could especially relate to the idea of it being better to try and fail, than not try at all, it’s not something that works for everyone, but for me, it’s what I need to do.

Work In Progress

I’ve been musing on these two terms existing and living and with my recent forays into the world of the low paid, I get to understand more about existing. To exist is to just get by. It means holding down a job that you don’t really care that much for and then entertaining yourself with monotonous distractions at the weekend. If you are just existing then no doubt you will want to lose yourself in endless television, junk food, and pointless conversation with friends in similar circumstances.

The importance of these two terms is important to understand so that you can recognise that you are just existing and want to push yourself into the realm of the living. The living take long walks anywhere, and great gulps of air. They relax so much more into the now and take their time with living. They pursue their dreams and don’t let…

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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.”

My Ridiculous Anxiety Dream

I have variations on this dream quite often, but I think this is the daftest. I do sometimes drive a tractor for my job and occasionally I have to check on trees after a storm to make sure none have been uprooted or become unstable, so it has some basis in reality.

So I’d been driving a tractor out in a field and had stopped to check that none of the trees had toppled.  Suddenly I noticed that it had got dark so I needed to get back to base. I reached down to release the handbrake, but it wasn’t there! I felt for the gearbox, but it wasn’t there either! And there was no steering wheel! I was really panicking by this point and there were a few minutes of fumbling about, wondering why I wasn’t wearing shoes or a coat, before I finally worked out that I was in bed and not on a tractor at all. Instead of deciding that everything was fine and going back to sleep, my brain started on a new course of panic and I thought,

“But if the bed has got no gears or steering wheel, how am I going to get to work tomorrow?” Feeling frantic, I switched on the light, muttering to myself,

“I drive to work everyday, how do I normally do this on a bed with no steering wheel?”

A few more tormented seconds passed while I looked at my bed in confusion, before finally realising,

“I don’t need to drive my bed to work, I’ve got a car.”