By Charmaine Morrison-Mills
I awoke bleary eyed and gazed outside. The gate swung absentmindedly to its own rhythm. The rosary bush drooped and sighed with the weight of its bloom. As my eyes cleared I saw a young child reaching for an object, his fingers willing themselves to stretch just that bit further with each movement. His uncontrollable black curly hair flowed about him as if it had a life of its own. I sat up quickly – too quickly.
Everything spun around me as shapes distorted and everything went hazy. I soon recovered and walked outside.
The ground around me swirled and I was floating in an ocean of glassy sand. The crystallised pieces swayed and carried me in an unseen current. A dark shadow began to surface to my left, only to reveal itself as the young child.
“Why, hello there.” I said. He gazed at me wildly then dived back down beneath me, his shape shifting in the illusions of the glass.
The sun pierced through me as I floated towards it on the horizon. I wondered where I would go next; whether I’d be with the small child who seemed so familiar to me.
The crystals became unsteady beneath my weight, and suddenly I was falling. I felt no fear. This child gave me a strange sort of comfort. Finally, I landed in my warm abode and fell asleep, awaiting my dreams to come.
Everything was cloudy. Try as I might, I could not see further than my hand span in front of me. Something in the back of my head told me to run forward. I started slow, as I do every night. A slight figure stood by my side and now I knew where I’d seen him before – every night I dream of this boy.
He gives me a reassuring smile and takes my hand into his. It’s so warm I never want to let go. “Come on,” he says, “Let’s find her.”
“Who?” I ask. He gives me a smile that reaches his eyes. “Mummy of course. Don’t you want to find mummy?” Before I had a chance to answer, the twinkle in his eyes had gone and with the ghost of a smile left, he said, “Don’t you remember Fainne? We must find her, we must. Otherwise he will come.” Any trace this innocent child had of warmth in his face was instantly drained. He turned forwards and in the slight vision I held, I saw something on his face that unnerved me.
“What happened to your face?” I asked slowly. How could I have not noticed earlier? Where his eyes stared shining, a ring of purple engulfed his face, leaving it partly in shadow.
“He did it. Don’t you remember Fainne? Oh please remember. He hit you on the head when she left. He said it was our fault. You fell to the ground and I couldn’t wake you…and then…and then-”His hand reached for his face and he flinched as the memory of his scar became almost a reality once more.
“Don’t cry little one.” I said, grasping his hand with all my might. “I’ll never leave you; we’ll find your mummy.”
He almost looked convinced, when everything went blurry. “No, not again, not again. Please, come back to me Fainne!”
The memory of my dream became more distant with every waking moment, until it disappeared completely. I looked out the window wondering what this day would bring me. Would I see the boy again?
The scene around me dissolved until I was sitting at a vacant train station. A slight figure with a deep hood sat across the tracks; a man in a sterile suit seated next to me, spoke.
“I know what knowledge you seek.”
Instantly my thoughts were lead to that boy. I felt a connection towards him, though I knew nothing of who he was and why he was always with me in my dreams. Even more curiously, I had no idea why he was in my waking life yesterday.
“Dreams have a deep connection with our reality.” The man explained, as though reading my thoughts. “Some even believe our dreams are in fact our reality. This could happen when your reality is so traumatic, that you escape into your mind- into your imagination.”
This was too much to take in. Could it be possible that my dreams are in fact…my reality?
“But if this is true,” I began, hardly sure of how to word my many questions. “How am I supposed to return to my reality and escape these living dreams?”
“In order to live that other life you must reshape your mind. Forget everything you ever thought was real. And now our time is up. Our unconsciousness is passing. I wish you good luck.”
Before I could ask another question, the train station whirred and went, along with the man. It could have been a trick of the light, but I was fairly sure that as the scene transitioned, the hooded figure gave me a wide smile. A smile that reached his eyes.
As I prepared to sleep I thought of nothing, but the boy. And ever so slowly my mind passed over to that other reality.
“You’re back!” His face was full of glee as I returned to the darkened world in front of me.
I looked down at him, a smile across my face. “Yes I am. And I will never leave you again.” I felt as though I’d been broken from my trance. This boy Thommy, my little brother, was with me and we were going to find our mother. My father had been abusive. That I could now remember so clearly. The night my mother had left. She had said she’d come back for us. However her eyes betrayed her and I knew the only way to see her face again was to track her down. And track her we would. I remembered how my father had knocked me out cold before setting on my brother with the same brutality.
“Let’s sit under that tree for a while, shall we?” Thommy started to lead me forward into darkness. I began to feel confused again.
“But Thommy, there is only darkness ahead of us. What is this tree you speak of?”
He looked up at me and I saw pain on his face. “You – you have tunnel vision Fainne. You’re going blind. When you were younger Daddy got mad and-” But I was no longer paying attention. The pain of this memory was so deep I could not risk slinking away into my imagination again. I was here to stay.
“ You don’t have to ever think about that horrible man again Thommy. I’m here, and mummy will be at her sister’s. I know she will. We will find a way home.”
That night when I fell asleep, the warmth of my tiny brother against me, I dreamt of a place with shifting scenes. Of blue moons and crystal seas. I felt peace. Then, when I awoke the next day, my brother and I set off on our future, leaving our past as a distant dream.
*This was a short story I wrote for my Creative Writing folio in April 2011.
© Charmaine Morrison-Mills