I dread people telling me their dreams. I never quite know how to react: of course they’re surreal and strange, they’re dreams – not reality.
So let me tell you about one of mine…
I hardly ever remember my dreams unless I wake up in mid flow laughing or in a state of utter terror. A couple of nights ago I was putting the finishing touches to the picture above when I realised that its subject could in fact be a ghost or a corpse. With that thought I went to bed, read a few pages of Stacy Schiff’s book on the Salem witches and awoke a few hours later, disoriented by the following dream which I’ve tried to convey in the chopped-up way that I remembered it:
Where would the path have led us if we’d followed it to the very end?
You, holding my hand as the sun rises over the tree tops, the start of a new day that I sensed we wouldn’t see through to its conclusion.
Paper, a pencil, just a few lines before the effort became too great.
A book face down on the floor. A telephone ringing somewhere deep inside the house. And the corners of the room are still dark as soot from smoking candles.
What was the point of all those words, I wonder, if so many of them weren’t true? Your hair spread over the pillow, notes of blue and grey amongst the brown.
We’d always assumed I’d be the first to leave.
Birds sing like it’s any other day. A door slams. A car drives down the hill.
I was pleased to wake at that point. Even now I’m not sure what was part of the dream and what rushed in to fill the gaps when I awoke.
Later, in the morning sunlight the picture seemed less sinister: a pale-skinned woman thinking of past loves, travels and her childhood, nothing more unsettling than that.
A last, lighter word on dreams. A 12 year old British comedian called Grace the Child won an award for the following joke at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015: “People say to me, you’re young, live your dream! But I don’t want to be naked in an examination I haven’t revised for…”