Dreams was originally written in april 2004 inspired by the dream of the night before. It has been edited and brushed up a number of times since then. This version was completed in may 2006 and added here in october 2006
Dreams… When I was a child, dreams were what I lived for. Dreams filled with wondrous voyages through fantastic landscapes, where brave young hero's rescued beautiful princesses from tall, sky scratching towers of rock and ice. Dreams where inter-stellar space battles were fought and won against insurmountable odds, the few remaining rebel ships zapping and buzzing between the massive evil dominion fleet, destroying them one by one in an awe inspiring series of special effects. Dreams where cavemen walked alongside dinosaurs in pre-historic volcanic landscapes as pteredons screeched in the sky above them. Dreams where mythical creatures lived in the labyrinths under ancient cities, waiting to devour any human brave, or stupid enough to wander into their lairs.
As a child, the only bounds of possibility in dreams were the limits of a boys mind. The limits of this boys mind were immense, pushed to the horizons of a million universes by far too many books and comics. You can't believe how grateful that the dreams of my childhood ended with my childhood, so many years ago.
I think it all started about a week ago. I suppose that was when I first noticed that something was really wrong.
I remember my life before the night of July 7th, or at least I think that I do. But if you can’t trust your memory, what can you trust? I remember my job at the Happy Burger, Burger Bar (Home of the Super Happy Smiley Burger). I remember Peter Lawley, my boss, repeatedly telling me about the endless possibilities for promotion if I would just 'Seize the day'. I never could draw up the link between smiling more whilst serving the unwashed and often inebriated masses with junk food and the ability to seize the day. Maybe I just didn’t see the big picture that seemed so obvious to my dead beat boss, but I suppose he was right about my general apathy for life. I remember being a big fan of the motto 'whatever!'
I remember the incessant smell of cardboard fries and the synthetic grease that clung to your skin for hours if not days after you left at the end of a shift. A smell that would cautiously creep up on you as you sat relaxing, before assaulting your nose and mind with a vomit inducing ferocity that would make mustard gas seem tame. I remember the way that the official uniform, thoughtfully provided by Happy Burger International, irritated my skin, the way that every move of my body caused it to grate against me, leaving me with sores that never seemed to heal.
I remember the hours of tedious boredom, where I had to just stand at my mastermind of a cash register with that same, moronic smile plastered onto my face. I also remember the two day training course that I was sent on to enable me to operate the cash register. I know that I am not the smartest tool in the box, but even I don’t really need two days to teach me that if the customer asked for a Super Happy Smiley Burger, you pressed on the picture of a burger with a smiley face on it.
I remember Alison. I remember her shy smile from behind her griddle as she passed me Super Happy Smiley Burger after Super Happy Smiley Burger. I remember cursing myself every time that I left the place for failing to ask her out, but I suppose that that is the story of my life.
I remember leaving the restaurant that night, doing exactly as I had so many times before, walking up to her as she shrugged into her fir collared parker, with every intention of saying something like "Hey Alison! Dya fancy going for a drink some night?", telling myself that this time I was not going to chicken out, today would be different. Then the familiar panic hit me, driven by the fear of being laughed at, turned down and publicly humiliated and all I managed to blurt out I was a half audible "goodnight" into my hand before hurriedly blundering away like the moronic looser I felt I was.
I remember walking to my clapped out old banger in the far corner of the car park and hearing a group of local teenage kids in the opposite corner, laughing. "They’re laughing at you!" the voice of failure spoke in my mind, convinced that they had witnessed the whole event, including my thoughts “they’re mocking your pitiful attempts at pulling a girl”. I wish I could have said that the voice was washed away by a more confident and proud voice, but I remember that that voice was the only voice there, and thus the only voice I ever listened to.
I remember fighting my way through 4 miles of traffic infested streets to the run-down, high raise council block that housed my flat. I remember walking towards the temperamental lift, momentarily debating on taking the risk of it breaking down and yet another night sitting in it before the engineers arrived before climbing up the six flights of urine soaked stairs. I remember the florescent lights on the stairwell flickering at just the rate to make it impossible for anyone to want to linger long enough to read the scrawled graffiti daubing the walls.
I remember arriving at the small, lonely impoverishedly furnished apartment that I called home. I remember grabbing a can of some cheep and minimally alcoholic lager from the fridge, nimbly avoiding a virtually sentient piece of cheese on the same shelf. I remember slumping down on the ancient, musty smelling sofa and flicking on the T.V., tired and deflated from 9 hours of 'Keeping the customer satisfied' and thoroughly dejected by my, once again, failed attempt at a love life.
I remember the dream
I am seventeen again, back sitting on the beach as I had done so many years before, slowly scrunching the warm, dry sand with my bare feet. My eyes pick out each iridescent grain as it appears in an explosion of golden light, before cascading over my toes. The ambient aroma of an August Bank Holiday Blackpool fills the air around me, each element distinctly detectable as instruments in an orchestra, but like those instruments, combining together to create a symphony of scent: Suntan oil slowly baking on sweat coated skin; Freshly spun candy floss; That sea-sidey smell of saltwater and fish; a vague hint of rotting rubbish. Blackpool in the summer. The sun’s warmth mixed in produces an overwhelming sense of perfection within me.
The moment is instantly lost as I suddenly look up. I think I must have heard a gull cry, but my dreams are strange like that. I don't think I actually hear things in dreams, I just seem to know that a sound has happened. No that’s not quite right, its like I automatically react to sounds and just observe the reaction and not the actual sound. Maybe it's the same with all of my senses, but to me it is most obvious with sound.
I look up and all I see is her. A sight that, to my teenage eyes, is pure beauty. She looks over to me and smiles. 'God' I am glad that I am in my jeans and not my Speedos. I smile back and raise my hand in a nervous wave, not totally convinced that she is smiling at me, but someone behind me. I expect her to walk off, as she had done in the memory that I was now reliving, but she doesn’t. She stands there a moment longer, eyes locked with mine, neither of us wanting to break the connection.
A blow to the side of my head tears me from her eyes causing me to spin under the force of the blow. I end up lying on my stomach as the football roles away from me, obviously content in the knowledge that it has just made me look a wimp in front of the most beautiful creature in creation. With that sense of missed chances that will haunt me for the rest of my life, I lie there watching the ball roll away, and in my memory, watching her walk away too. She doesn’t though. Her face is contorted into a look of concerned horror. Instead of walking away, oblivious to my humiliation, she runs towards me, her hair bouncing over her shoulders “is she or isn't she wearing harmony hairspray?” I smile to myself
"Are you alright?" she asks in angelic tones, each syllable exploding in my mind
"Urm... I'm ok... Thanks" I stammer out, fear racking my mind
"I'm so glad you’re not hurt." she says, her face returning to the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. "Hi, I'm Jade"
I awoke on the morning of the 8th by dragging my eyelids into an open position and blearily scanning the room. No, there was something wrong here. I sat upright and swung from beneath the duvet, half-heartedly trying to work out where I was. This definitely wasn't the living room of my apartment and I definitely remembered falling to sleep there. It wasn't even my apartment, or for that matter anywhere that I remembered ever visiting, but there again it was too early. I noticed the clothes on the seat next to the bed, deducing that they must be mine, I quickly dressed, but not before noticing that I now seemed to have a firm stomach.
"Just the last threads of the dream" I said to myself. A noise behind startled me as my head emerged from the sweater.
"Morning babe" she said.
I spun around. Babe? It was her, the girl from the beach at Blackpool. The girl from my dream who in reality I'd never really met. It was the girl who I remembered walking away to be lost in a haze of sand as my head rang with pain. I just stood there, not comprehending anything in the situation that was unfolding before me.
"Are we going on holiday, or are you just going to stand around gawping? She asked. I shrugged. I couldn't think of anything else to do.
"Danny you’re... ", She shrugged, "... weird, But ", she smiled, "I suppose that's why I love you". She grabbed at my arm and pulled me down the stairs. I was still lost but at least I knew one thing. She was Jade. I suppose I knew something else too, I knew that I loved her.
"I've loaded the car, sleepy head, so are you going to do the chivalrous thing and monopolise the driving, or is it equal opportunity time again?" she smiled. I shrugged, again. "Get in, I’ll drive" she concluded muttering something about bloody men under her breath, giggling as she did.
That day was weird. The newspaper that we picked up from a transport cafe said that it was definitely the 8th, so at least my internal calendar was correct. I passed my lack of talking off as tiredness, as Jade reminisced about the times we'd spent together. "Remember the landlady in our first flat together". "Remember the first day we met", I pieced together bit by bit the 5 years that seemed to be different in my mind. By the time we arrived at Blackpool, the place I remember leaving with my mates and not in Jades mums' car, I had already decided that I preferred this life than the one I remembered.
That afternoon was the best time that I have ever remembered having. We rode the roller coasters at the pleasure beach, screaming and laughing as we did. I failed to win teddy bear after teddy bear on the sideshows. Mainly we laughed. We laughed until tears rolled from our eyes, begging for the other to stop whatever it was that was cracking the other up. As the sun went down we walked arm in arm along the promenade eating fish and chips, and we made love.
I lay in the double bed at the Belmarsh Royal Hotel, watching a red digital clock change to 01:34, with the beauty that was my wife sleeping next to me, blissfully relaxed and not caring how I'd got here. Slowly I closed my eyes for the last time that night, contentment filling my mind.
The car swings out of the driveway of the house. I think it is the house that I'd woken up in. To be honest, I am not sure, but the car is definitely Jades though. In an instant I am sitting in the passenger seat with Jade next to me, driving up the M6. She is talking to me but the words didn't form in my mind I just watch the road. Ahead' Stoke -on-Trent North' is announced by a bright green sign, its words blearing in my mind yet underneath it, scrawled in a remarkably sharp, large bloody scrawl is "look out". Confused I look around at Jade. Her eyes are closed. Slowly the car veers to the right, towards a lorry that is gliding passed us in the centre lane.
"No" I think I scream, reaching for the wheel, pulling the car away from the lorry. The world blurs and spins around us. Time slows, distorts, stretches, it feels like I am moving through treacle as I try and wrestle the wheel. Almost in slow motion I realise that I’ve overreacted and in a state of horror, I see the crash happening around me but can’t do anything to stop it. I hear the screech of tires, the grinding of metal against metal. The slow deep crunch as the car spins, rolling, time almost stopping, the sound of my heart beat deafening, as the car lurches into the air. I watch the the ground, air, trees slowly spin past, oddly disorientating me. Suddenly time speeds up, lurching forward faster and faster, blurring everything I see and hear. A cacophony of crumpling metal, screaming engines and my racing heart fills my mind. Instantly the car stops moving.
I sit perfectly still, unable to move as pain courses through my body, my mind uncomprehending the situation, retreating into the comfort of insanity, loosing coherence fading to white.
Blue lights spin in and out of focus...
A strange voice echoes through my mind "You're going to be ok"... White lights drift past like angels on a conveyor belt...
And then nothing.
When I awoke on the afternoon of the 10th I was lying in a hospital bed. 'God' I hurt. Every time I moved pain would explode through my body filling my body with screaming electricity.
"Ahr you're awake then." I tried to locate the voice, not knowing where I was. "How do you feel?"
I wanted to tell her, whoever she was that I felt like my body was exploding and that my mind was melting inside my head.
'Vrghh" I said
"Don't worry, your going to be fine, you’re in St. Vincent’s", the nurse leant over me and smiled with the same sincerity a car salesman uses on all but his most awkward customers. " Do you feel well enough for a visitor? Your wife's outside"
'Uss" I said desperately trying to nod without moving any muscles.
Instantaneously Jade was before my eyes, tears gently rolling down her soft cheeks. She leant down, kissing my forehead, her lips feeling like knives pressing into my head. I think she whispered, "I'm sorry" before the brightness of the world around me became totally white and I passed into unconsciousness.
The snow covered the lawn of the house. I watched the bulk of my father as he left a trail of black marks towards the front gate. I leant forwards, the warmth of the radiator spreading into my chest and legs through my Pyjamas, the cold of the window spreading through my head
“Hot and Cold" I announced to the world, giggling to myself. “HOT AND COLD” I shouted, now laughing full steam.
I think my father must have heard me, as he turned round; looked up at me and waved “Hot and Cold Daddy” I laughed at him. He turned back towards the gate, slipping as he did. I laughed so hard that I banged my head on the window and looked crossly at the glass. My Daddy lay in the snow, not moving. “Get up Daddy II I said, the last draws of giggle being replaced by the seriousness only a four year old can muster. He didn't move though, he just lay there as the snowflakes drifted down on to him. “GET UP DADDY” I demanded.
"Wake up, shug", that was my mothers voice. I opened one eye, searching my body for the pain from the crash. Weird, I was in my parents' house. I recognised the room that I had grown up in instantly, even though a few licks of paint had been added since I'd left the house 4 years ago. My mind fought with the “4 years ago”, fought with the “parents’ house”, and most ferociously fought with the pain that I remembered so clearly from the day I was told that they had died in a 5 car pile up.
"Get up" she said impatiently, "It's 7:30. You don't want to be late do you? Your breakfast is waiting for you down stairs so don't put your suit on until you've eaten it. We don't want getting married with egg dribbled down your front, do we?"
"Don't tell me you’re having second thoughts. Poor Jade's been waiting for this day for years and ears and you know you love her."
"At least it’s still Jade" I mumbled to myself causing a ripple of confusion on my mothers face.
"Come on then. Chop! Chop!" she urged, leaving the room.
Wedding days... I don't know about anybody else's wedding day but this day was over before it began. Time seemed to jump from one moment to the next. From lying in bed, fast forwarding until it paused as I was standing in the church looking around at the small congregation of friends and relatives, and my mum sitting alone and crying with joy. Then once again fast forwarding tome sitting in the reception as my uncle Thomas spoke one un-amusing anecdote after another, just wishing he wouldn't mention the time he'd caught me plying doctors and nurses when I was a kid. Jolting to the point where I am dancing with Jade, her warm smell engulfing me. I don't suppose you will believe how much I love her. You will say that it is impossible to love someone that much after only 4 days, but I did, I love her with every ounce of my heart. I love her far too much to belittle our wedding night by writing about it. That night was and will always be, just for us.
The 12th was the first day that I made the link between my dreams and reality. I'd dreamt of the wedding, of standing in the church and waiting, watching the minutes lunge into hours. Jades father had arrived distraught with grief. Jade had collapsed on her hen night. She'd died in the early hours of that morning of an overdose. He kept saying that someone had to have put something into her drink, that his Jade didn't do drugs.
I awoke in the morning of that day with tears still streaming down my eyes, as the radio played John Cougar Mellencamp' s "Jack and Dianne" ... "Oh yeah life goes on, long after the thread of living is gone". Why does the radio always seem to know what songs to play? Jades' thread was gone. Jade was gone.
"It's the dreams, they change the world." I said inside my mind. The thought didn't quite come all in one go; it drifted in a series of images from the past few days, forming its self into the obvious statement. Maybe I could control the dreams. Maybe I could bring her back? I grabbed the bottle of pills from the bedside cabinet, took two, and lay back, waiting for them to kick in.
That was 3 days ago, the last time I slept. Jade's here and, God, I love her so much. I have a son and a daughter in this reality, Garry is 3 and Carla is 1. They are both the most wonderful children I have ever met. They would be, they’re mine. You cant understand how much I love them all. I love them too much to sleep, too much to let my dreams destroy them. I'm never going to sleep again. I don't trust sleep. I don't trust dreams. Never sleep. Never dream.