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Denying Fantasy

29 May

DenyingFantasy

Entry 1 – August 28th

Hello again. Yes, I’m back after ten years of silence. Hopefully my new entries will be a lot more sensible than the last ones (‘No one understands me’, ‘What am I doing with my life’, et cetera), now that I’m past those teenage years of angst. In fact, I should probably tell you why I’m writing again. No, it’s not just because I found this journal laying around and thought it was too much of a coincidence.

There’s only so many times I’m happy to wake up after two to four hours of being chased, shot and/or murdered in different ways. It’s not just disrupting my morning; it puts me in a bad mood all day. I’m hoping that writing things down will help me get them off my chest, so I stop having that dreadful look in the morning. I would say I want to figure out what’s causing the nightmares, but since they’re daily occurrences, it would have to be something pretty dramatic, and I don’t want to quit my job or leave town. At least not yet.

Let’s start by going over what I did yesterday. I wrote about 1200 words in the morning, had lunch in front of my desk (some kind of sandwich), then in the afternoon gave a two-part lecture to some prospective first-years. When I got home I watched some random comedy shows on TV, made myself a chicken stir fry for dinner, had a shower and read a book from bed.

Last night I dreamt that I was in a city full of tall buildings (it might have been New York), and I spent most of my time being chased by some guys dressed all in black, who either had black masks or no faces, it was hard to tell. Despite my desperate attempts I couldn’t outrun them for long; I took a few sword-cuts to the arms and bullets to the legs, and eventually I fell. Thankfully they slit my throat quickly, and I woke up.

I can’t find any definite ties between the two, no students asking me questions after the lecture or fellow lecturers bothering me. Let’s see how it goes next time.

Entry 11 – September 7th

Almost two weeks, no interesting insights so far. Let’s see…

I didn’t have to do any teaching today, so I wrote about 3,500 words, most of which were for the article that’s due tomorrow, and the rest for my Monday blog post (which still needs work). No exciting emails. When I got home someone rang the doorbell, asking if I knew that children are being exploited by a secret government conspiracy. I took one of their pamphlets for a bit of a laugh, but it was too ridiculous even for that.

Last night’s dream began in a relaxed fashion.  My family and I were having dinner at my aunt’s place; I think the main course was ravioli. It was all nice until a group of dinosaurs jumped in through the living room window, ate all the pasta, then decided to wash it down with some human. I tried throwing various kinds of cutlery at them, mostly butter knives, but they didn’t seem to care. Thankfully, the dinosaurs decided I should be the first to go.

Entry 37 – October 20th

Just another Saturday. Worked a bit on my blog, went out for a walk since it wasn’t too cold, had lunch at the Indian place. I was going to meet with Jess for coffee afterwards, but she moved it to tomorrow. I guess she’s busy with her wedding preparations, but it would be nice if she didn’t postpone five times before actually making it to anything.

I can’t remember my dream very well, but it involved flying around Venice, trying not to get caught, which I succeeded at, for once. Well, success is a strange word. Someone told me that if I killed myself, I might be able to escape this Venice-loop I was stuck in, and unsurprisingly, I decided I would rather try that than continue being pursued until I woke up. They had a handy wakizashi around, so it wasn’t too hard.

Even my dream-self is fed up with the constant persecution. Maybe I should consider going to some kind of therapy, but I’m not looking forward to their analyses of my psyche. Maybe if I’m still sleep-deprived next year.

Entry 62 – January 3rd

My dream was different this time – I don’t know why, but it felt much more real. Is it because I actually managed to escape?

I was being chased by two men wearing suits, in some sort of underground tunnel maze. I reached a room that looked like it might be safe. There was someone else in there, but he wasn’t dressed like the others, and didn’t even seem to notice me coming in. Worried that he might be in the same situation, I grabbed his hand and continued running.

The two men in suits must have known the area well; within minutes they had circled us, and were blocking our path. I started panicking, but as I was looking for somewhere else to go, the tunnel ceiling started collapsing on top of them, and the man running with me found another path which eventually left the tunnels.

It was dark outside, except for a few rays of moonlight. I looked at the person who ran away with me. I think he had dark hair and greyish eyes, and might have been in his late twenties or early thirties. I started smiling and was going to ask him what his name was, but he silenced me with a scowl.

Somehow, I felt like I was actually there, and not in the usual “I’m lucid dreaming” sense. I guess it was as if someone was sharing the dream with me, rather than just being one of the mindless murderers I populate my usual nightmares with. I don’t think he looks like anyone I know, although I’m going to make sure just in case (he’s definitely too old to be one of my students). I just want to make sure I don’t start babbling nonsense at someone just because I had a funny dream.

Oh, yes, yesterday. I ate more of the chocolates I got for Christmas from mum and dad and went for a walk with the new coat Sylvia got me, which is quite warm and, as she reminded me, more stylish than the rest of my clothes combined. Unless trying out Christmas presents gives me a pissed-off guardian angel, I’m going to go with the same conclusion as all my other entries: no link between my day and the dreams.

Entry 63 – January 4th

I went out again, had the rest of the chocolates, did some relatively productive writing (working on that novel I’m always working on, which still needs a title. Sadly, the only one that comes to mind is Mosaic, which says nothing about the novel itself. I should probably use it for a collection of short stories instead).

I had the joy of being chased by mad wolves. Or possibly werewolves.

I tried drawing the mystery man’s face, since I’m probably going to forget it. I’m so sad. It doesn’t help that it was a really crappy picture. I shredded it and took out the garbage.

 Entry 64 – February 8th

I had another dream that felt real. The same man who was running away with me last month was in a room full of books. I thought it might be a library at first, but the room was too small for that. The man seemed comfortable enough picking up a random volume and reading it from a nearby armchair, so maybe it was his private book collection. I walked around the shelves, trying to pick out something interesting to read, but I couldn’t read any of the titles. It was as if the words were rearranging themselves deliberately, to stop me from reading them. I must have looked confused, because the man smirked at me from his armchair. I think I tried talking to him, but I can’t remember what I actually said, and he didn’t reply.

It reminded me of that Doctor Who episode where he jumped into someone’s dream library. That said, it makes more sense if I went into his dream instead, since he seemed to know the room we were in. I wonder if he knew the cave as well… That would be a much stranger place to be familiar with.

I wish I could remember the details better – it’s as if my brain has been erasing them since I woke up. I can picture his mocking expression, and I think he was wearing black trousers and a comfortable-looking grey jumper. I think he might have had slippers on, which was kind of funny considering how formal he looked otherwise. They were really demure slippers, though.

Entry 65 – February 20th

I did a double-take this morning as I saw that the man sitting next to me on the train looked a bit like that man I keep dreaming about. He was reading some documents which had his name on them: John Petersham. Instead of calling him “that man” I should give him a name, but I don’t think naming him after someone who looks like him is a good idea. I’ll probably end up merging the two in my head the more time passes. So I’m going to go for a different name, one that I don’t think anyone I know is using.

So the mystery man is now called Ivan.

Other than that, it was a normal day. Wednesdays are pretty boring when you don’t have anything to look forward to, so I decided to bake a cake when I got home. It was nice, but I still can’t get my Victoria sponges to rise properly.

I dreamed of rats with maracas chasing me out of my flat. The neighbors watched and waved at me, then quickly started greeting their new neighbors, offering them platters of cheese cubes on sticks.

Entry 68 – April 15th

Finally, another Ivan dream. No, it’s not become a drug, it’s just that the alternative to seeing him is dying a painful death (or learning which parts of decomposing corpses are safe to eat, that was the nightmare of the week).

I actually got to be useful this time. I looked around and saw Ivan was there as well. I wasn’t quite sure how, but I realized that he needed to sneak into a nearby company building (it didn’t seem to have a name, so I’m not sure what it was meant to be). I assured him that I could get us in unnoticed, grabbed his hand and directed us inside.

I’m not sure why I was able to selectively make people ignore us. Maybe I made use of my ability to be inconspicuous at all times, or maybe it was some kind of dream magical power that made us invisible. I could still see us, so possibly not the second option. Either way, we passed our first hurdle (the security gates) unnoticed and continued on to the lifts. I wasn’t sure where to go from there, but Ivan quickly pushed the button for the top floor, and we stood there in silence. I didn’t want to let go of his hand, just in case whatever cloaking method I was using would wear off, but I did my best to tear my eyes away from him. He didn’t say anything, but that was welcome given his previous interactions with me.

Soon we arrived at the top floor and started listening in on an important-sounding meeting. I wasn’t really interested, so I kept watch. After a few minutes, one of the people in the meeting received a phone call, and from the look on her face, it became apparent that she had been informed of our whereabouts. I quickly pulled Ivan away and we ran down the staircase for what seemed like an eternity (I think we were on the twentieth floor). The guards were on alert when we finally arrived at the ground floor, and more out of fear than anything else, we sprinted out, past the building’s entrance gates, around a nearby fountain and into a well-kept garden. Once we were out of their sight, I let go of Ivan’s hand and sat down, feeling exhausted, but happy at the same time. I wasn’t even sure what I was helping with, or if I should even have been helping him at all – he was clearly spying, it was more a question of whose side he was on. And what the sides were. Or, being just part of a dream, it probably didn’t matter.

He didn’t smile, but he did thank me. Grabbing a brown suitcase that he had either been carrying all this time, or had just appeared, he walked off.

Entry 70 – April 30th

I keep trying to picture Ivan in my head before I go to bed, as if I could find his dreams just by willing it, but it’s not helping.

Instead, I got to see the whole city sinking into ground as I was walking around Hyde Park. I feebly tried to escape, but I don’t think my heart was in it, and the ground swallowed me too. I wasn’t immediately crushed, I had to slowly suffocate.

Entry 72 – May 15th

I saw John Petersham on the train again (he’s the one that looks like Ivan). He smiled at me as I sat down opposite him; maybe he remembers me from before.  Thankfully the more I look at him, the less he reminds me of Ivan.

I had one of the usual dreams this time. I was locked in a small, white room, left waiting for whatever was going to come out of nowhere and kill me. The patterns my blood made on the walls reminded me of one of those inkblots, the one that looks like a butterfly. Maybe I should go and see someone.

Entry 75 – May 22nd

Gretchen told me she got a promotion. This was great contrast to this morning, when Sam told me that I’ve become more and more quiet the past few weeks. I’m glad my lectures are done for the year, I would have been a pretty lousy teacher in this state. He asked if I wanted to take a few days off, but I know now is not really the best time to do so.

I’m just being stupid. I’ve lived with my dreams all this time, I don’t see why I have to be so obsessed by them all of a sudden. Maybe it’s because I’m getting close to thirty and I still get home and watch TV on my own.

I think I’m going to stop writing.

Entry 76 – June 15th

I know, I said I wasn’t going to write.

I saw Ivan again. He was in that same library room, sleeping on the sofa.  At first I thought it would be a great opportunity to have a look around, maybe see if I recognized where this place was (as if it could be a real-life place, and I would dare to visit), but when I looked at him again, I realized he was looking ill. I opened the large medical dictionary that was covering his chest and tried to figure out what might be wrong with him. His forehead and hands were cold, his eyes refused to stay open. I tried looking up his symptoms, but the medical dictionary was written in a language I couldn’t recognize (I tried imitating it when I woke up, but it just looked like a jumble of lines).

I walked around but there was no door leading out of the library room. None of the other books were legible either. I moved the armchair next to the sofa and started talking to Ivan. I couldn’t even make out my own words, but I hoped they were reassuring.

I was there for some time. His eyes twitched once or twice, but otherwise there was no change.

I don’t even know what to make of this dream. My initial reaction is that something happened to Ivan, which is why I haven’t seen him recently. My second reaction is “Seen him recently? You never saw him in the first place”. My third is to look up what his symptoms might mean.

In the end, I’m just writing it down here. What am I supposed to do, “save” someone who may or may not exist from a mysterious could-be-anything illness by somehow insinuating myself into his dreams? Even in the dreams I don’t know what to do.

Entry 77 – June 16th

I spent all of Sunday reading about dreams. Some crazy people think you can communicate with others during dreams. I think I read a fantasy book where the two main characters did that.

I don’t actually remember what I dreamed about last night.

Entry 78 – June 17th

I think I didn’t get viciously attacked in my dreams. They were just normal, or at least non-violent. Not that this means I’m cured, but I guess it’s something. It’s been years since I can remember having a “normal” dream.

Entry 79 – June 18th

I kept trying to shout for Ivan, which was really hard considering I have no idea what he’s actually called. I ended up saying something along the lines of ‘Ivan, or whatever your name is, if you really exist, and if you can actually hear me, then say something!’ Cue the black-sailed ship emerging from the floor, and the flood of pirates who decided to bind and gag me. I guess the peace wasn’t bound to last.

Entry 80 – June 22nd

This is it. The proof I was looking for.

I was in front of that corporate building Ivan and I snuck into. I walked around for a while, assuming he would be here, since he reappeared last time I was in the library room. I was rewarded on my third lap of the garden.

He was sitting on a bench, looking as if he had been there for hours and hours, despite the fact that I had definitely walked through the whole garden before, and it had been deserted. The nearby trees were in bloom, and he was covered in small, white petals which were falling relentlessly, hindering my vision. He looked like he hadn’t recovered from whatever had happened to him; there were bags under his eyes and he looked quite pale, especially under the bright patches of sunlight.

I didn’t know what to say. When I met him I thought he was a relatively rude but resourceful person, and subsequent meetings made me think he might not be as much of a jerk as I thought. Then I didn’t get to see him for ages, obsessed about it, and finally found him looking like he didn’t have very long left to live, all in a span of six months.

And now he was here, sitting calmly in front of me. The fallen petals started piling so high that I could barely see the grass, almost as if they were snowflakes melting together.

‘Do you live in London?’ I asked him. It was one of the questions that had plagued me recently. Even if he was real, even if we did manage to communicate, what then?

I felt slightly foolish as I waited for him to answer. I hadn’t even asked him if he was doing better.

‘Tomorrow at noon,’ he said, sounding as if he was speaking from quite far away. ‘Leicester Square, in front of the cinema.’

As he finished his words he stood up, showering the park bench with soft, white petals, and quietly melted into the background.

So here I am. It’s Sunday morning (nine in the morning, to be precise). I’m wearing white, just to make sure he knows it’s me. It won’t take me more than an hour to get there, but I’ll probably be leaving soon, just in case. Who knows, he might be there early as well…

*

I thought she might be early. Noon had just been a suggestion, after all. I bought a pair of tickets at the cinema when I arrived, figuring it would make things less awkward if we had something else to talk about.

From my vantage point in a nearby café, I saw her arrive around quarter-past ten. While I wasn’t against the idea of having some tea together before going to the eleven-thirty showing, I didn’t want to give the wrong impression, so I waited quietly.

First she walked around the cinema entrance, making sure I wasn’t there already. After three rounds, she found a convenient wall to lean on and waited, keeping the cinema entrance within sight. She was wearing a white dress, probably thinking that if I didn’t recognize her right away, I might remember last night’s cascade of white. Her shoes were hard to see from a distance, but they were a warm shade of beige almost identical to that of her bag. Unlike most people around her, she didn’t resort to using her phone to pass the time, even after half an hour’s wait. Maybe she was anxious, maybe she didn’t want to miss me walking past.

I chuckled to myself as I finished my Earl Grey tea and decided that it might be better not to leave her waiting for too long after all, even if I wanted more time to observe her. Besides, if we wanted something from the concession stand there would definitely be a queue.

I tried to approach her stealthily, but I’m afraid I don’t have her ability to walk unnoticed.

She looked like she wanted to say something, but couldn’t find the words. I gave her a few moments.

‘I guess you were real,’ she said. I looked myself up and down, as if making sure.

‘I believe I still am.’

She smiled – no, she beamed – and started laughing. Quite a lot.

‘I got us tickets for the eleven-thirty showing,’ I said, attempting to return words to the conversation.

‘Oh, really,’ she said breathlessly, still failing to curb her laughter. Apparently the realization that she hadn’t gone insane warranted a lot of relief. ‘What movie is that?’

‘The only one that wasn’t a romance, thriller or book adaptation.’

‘So, the artsy one,’ she said as she looked at the posters. ‘Are you an art person…?’ she trailed off, realizing we hadn’t even been introduced yet.

‘Ivan.’

‘Right. A bit of a funny guy, are we?’ she said, raising one of her eyebrows.

‘Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’m Chris. And you’re Jenna?’

She looked like she was about to say something, but thought better of it.

‘Oh, yes, it’s on my bracelet. You show remarkable powers of deduction. So,’ she continued, as if knowing each other’s names was all she had been waiting for, ‘are you going to tell me how the crazy dream-hopping works?’

‘Of course not. That’s why I opted to watch a movie instead.’

Not that my tactic was working.

‘You’ll have to tell me one day.’ She tried to sound patient, as if she could wait for more than a few hours.

I chuckled again. ‘Maybe after the movie,’ I said as I took her hand and started walking.

Word count: 3908

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2 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Short Stories

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Denying Fantasy

  1. Lina

    September 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Cool story! There wasn’t anything “sickening” haha. It was very neat! You’re right about how you lean toward the “sweet.” I love doing that. Sweet is so much better than sexy. Email me if you ever want a more in depth look at it, or just want to chat!

     

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