Questions and Answers

Last week I asked some questions, and got some interesting answers, for example atMilliwayswithapen and Pamela Spiro, plus plenty more in the comments below the last blog. I’m going to put forward my own answers, (but would still like to hear yours if you fancy taking part 🙂 )

First, the questions

  1. Would you rather be beautiful, an astronaut or able to walk up any surface (ie up walls and along the ceiling)? Why?
  2. Would you rather physically age, mentally age or visibly age?
  3. What was the last good deed you did?
  4. I’ve been watching the Good Place. It’s great. To give a spoiler-free description, it’s a comedy about a Heaven-like place, where you can live in your ideal house in a perfect village, eat all your favourite foods, and hang out with your soul-mate. What three things would you choose to have in your good place?
  5. You get a time machine watch that can only go up to an hour into the past or future. What would you use it for?
  6. You’re such an awesome person, that the mayor of your town has asked you to come up with a national holiday, what would you want the holiday to be for (eg Tree Day, Festival of Dreams), and when would you want it?
  7. What small something would you change right now?
  8. What are your plans for getting older? How do you want to spend your time when/if you stop working? Where do you want to be?
  9. You find out (probably from a magic floating wizard or by text or something) that nothing you do today will have consequences. What’s your itinerary for the day?
  10. When you die your ghost will be trapped in the place of your death, where do you want to die?

And my answers

  1. Would you rather be beautiful, an astronaut or able to walk up any surface (ie up walls and along the ceiling)? Why?

I’d definitely choose walking up surfaces. Being beautiful meh, seems like more trouble than it’s worth. All the focus on you would be on how you look rather than what you do or say, and I reckon you’d come to rely on the adoration and then get scared of losing it. Being an astronaut is nice in theory, but I have a feeling the reality is really hard work, with a lot of monotony in confined spaces for the most part. However, being able to walk up walls would never not be great. At the absolute least it would be useful for walking down a busy street, or walking up the side of a train, or hanging from the ceiling of a lift. Just endlessly great. And then being able to take a stroll up the outside of the Shard, or along the bottom of Waterloo Bridge would be great. I doubt I’d bother with the ground again.

  1. Would you rather physically age, mentally age or visibly age?

I’d most like to hang on to my mind and the ability of my body, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking old. If I can only keep one ability, it would be my mind, then I can still plug myself into virtual reality and go to beautiful places/ do amazing things there.

  1. What was the last good deed you did?

Bought some food for a young, scared man who’s started sitting outside my local Tesco.

  1. I’ve been watching the Good Place. It’s great, to give a spoiler-free description, it’s a comedy about a Heaven-like place, where you can live in your ideal house in a perfect village, eat all your favourite foods, and hang out with your soul-mate. What three things would you choose to have in your good place?

Cakes and ice cream. Warm rain. A place to walk without interruption.

  1. You get a time machine watch that can only go up to an hour into the past or future. What would you use it for? (I’m specifically not stating how this would work, if it would create lots of you, or if you’d just replay the same event, you get to decide)

I think (like Calmgrove) I’d use it for relieving anxiety, by changing all the stupid comments I make. I’m not sure about jumping forward in time, maybe if I had to wait twenty minutes in the cold for a train, but it’s like wishing a bit of my life away, I think I’d rather try to find some pleasure in the waiting.

  1. You’re such an awesome person, that the mayor of your town has asked you to come up with a national holiday, what would you want the holiday to be for (eg Tree Day, Festival of Dreams), and when would you want it?

A day of release, when people shout, scream, dance and smash things, without any judgement from others. A day to let out all suppressed emotions, bad feelings and regret, and howl, without any shame or embarrassment.

  1. What small something would you change right now?

I’ve got a migraine hovering at the back of my head, I would like to not have it, please.

  1. When you die your ghost will be trapped in the place of your death, where do you want to die?

I reckon in the ocean, that must be filled with so many wonders that most of us will never see. There’s real intelligence there too (octopuses and squid) so that would be fascinating to observe.

  1. What are your plans for getting older? How do you want to spend your time when/if you stop working? Where do you want to be?

I want to still be living with my flatmate who is also my closest friend, we plan to buy a house by the sea at some point. I want to get into computer games, so that when I’m too decrepit to do much else, I can escape into some mad world with zombies and flying kicks.

  1. You find out (probably from a magic floating wizard or by text or something) that nothing you do today will have consequences. What’s your itinerary for the day?

I think breaking into lots of important buildings to see what politicians and businessmen are up to.  Jumping off buildings, smashing up cars, setting fire to shops. Running up to strangers and hugging them. Driving a car really fast (I just sold my car, so I’ll need to pinch one, presumably the world without consequences would mean other people have no consequences either, so that’s ok). For those who didn’t understand how this would work, I suppose I’m thinking it would be like Groundhog Day, at the end of the day it all resets and nothing has changed, or maybe like many little Groundhog Days.

 

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.”