by moonlight

I was watching a film at my parents’ place (a device my subconscious particularly loves to use).  In it, an almost-pubescent girl was guest at a huge old house owned by a man with something of the undead about him.  To my dreaming mind, the house looked like that of my best friend from junior school, with the same split level floors (the first floor had mezzanines, and didn’t make sense as just one storey), and rooms that instead of having jusst one door – in and out – had doors in at least two of their walls, so that you could lock one door behind you and carry on through the other exit to the next chamber.  But this house, of course, was much bigger than the one where I used to play.

moonlight house

Other guests were staying at the house, adults and children, mostly females, the girl didn’t know how many.  Almost nightly, a guest or two would disappear, presumed eaten, but the girl didn’t guess that her host was the culprit.  He was a kind man, her friend, if a little hard for some people to understand because he kept to himself and was ponderously intellectual.  The girl liked that.  She understood it.

By now, almost all the others were gone.  The girl was beginning, reluctantly at first and then with terror, to face what she had suspected all along but suppressed.  She had thought her gentle host wouldn’t attack her.  She had turned a blind eye to what happened to the others, as lond as she believed herself exempt.  But what else had she decieved herself about?

She crept down to the cellar seeking – but hoping not to find – evidence of what had happened to her fellows.  Their remains, some of their possessions, even – could they be? – some people still alive.  In the cellar was a sunken pool filled with a kind of stagnant green slime.  (At this point, my mum came into the room, looked at the TV screen and said, “I’m not watching this, it’s too grisly for me.”)

Terrified, the girl fled back upstairs.  In the dark house, she ran through room after room locking each door behind her, both looking for her delusive host and praying not to be found by him.

In one room, she could dimly make out a bed, and a man sitting on it.  From the faint moonlight coming in through the heavy curtains, she did not see his full nakedness but only the strong torso lit by a cold blue glow.  In the silence and darkness, she softly reached out her hand to touch this male skin.  For a moment, she was rapt at the sensation of solid muscle beneath her fingers.  The man did not move; had she percieved him in that moment as a man and not merely a sensual object, she would have sensed him holding his breath too.  Then she remembered that her murderous host would soon find her here if she didn’t run, and so she scrambled into the next room, struggling with trembling fingers to secure the chain on the door.

Advertisements

Cretan dreams

In Crete, they eat a lot of cheese. Rich food in general, in fact, heartily doused in olive oil.  And after every meal in a restaurant, we were given raki and usually a small dessert from the house.

Now I’m back, I’m abstaining from cheese from at least a week, before I embark on research that Wallace and Gromit would be proud of, to test the hypothesised correlation between dreams had, and quantities of cheese eaten.

But first, here’s what my subconscious had to say while I was out of the country.

24th May

A fragment of a song by Nick Cave’s former band, The Birthday Party.  It was called Doreen and could have been either about a lost lover or missing child.  “Doreen where are you / I miss you,” Cave intoned. “Please come home / I’ll love you.”

The previous morning, I’d found out from a group whatsapp conversation about the terrorist attack in Manchester, in which most of the victims were female, and most very young.  Using hotel wi-fi, I’d seen reports totting up the death toll, and family members using social media to try and locate missing people.

26th May

A newish friend (someone I’ve known a few months, and not very well), asked me to help her transfer out of bed and into her wheelchair.  To do this, I had to lean my weight into one of side of her body, mostly the thigh, in order to sort of roll her.  Once she was moved, I noticed a big wet patch on the sheet she’d been lying on; not urine, maybe saliva.

In reality, this person is physically very active and able, a keen dancer like me, so to see her chairbound was unsettling.  Also uncomfortable was being the person who was asked to help.  My squeamishness here recalls the first dream I posted on this blog, Not Today.

I’m sure that the dream reflects my fears about losing my own physical capacity, particularly my dancing ability as I know it.  In dreams, seeing a thing happen to someone else – one degree of detachment – can be less psychically* overwhelming than seeing it happen to yourself.  (Two degrees of detachment might be, watching a film in which something happens to someone else, which is a device my subconscious also uses now and then.  See Murder, She Watched.

For what it’s worth, I often drool quite a bit if I fall asleep on my front.

* Do tell me what you think of my using the word ‘psychic’ as in ‘pertaining to the psyche.’  I shuddered a little as I typed it; mostly I chose that rather than ‘psychological’ because I felt the shorter word lent a more pleasing rhythm to the sentence. But I do find phrases like ‘psychic death’ or ‘psychic pain’ – as opposed to psychological – so fucking pretentious at times.  Same difference as far as actual meaning is concerned, I know.

27th May

An awful dream, this one.  An old Caribbean man with a brown hat, smoking a pipe or cigar, while verbally decrying the local prostitute (who was very well known) to anyone in the neighbourhood who would listen.  He did that a lot; indeed some of his favourite pastimes were smoking, staying indoors, and proselytising about the evils of prostitution.  The building he lived in was struck by accidental fire (I don’t think it was anything to do with the guy’s smoking), and all the other residents, adults and children, were evacuated.  Still he refused to leave his front room.  As the flames rumbled around him, he just kept on, talking about the local harlot.  The last thing to go was his face, still with pipe / cigar in his hate-driven mouth.  Skin and facial features melted and charred until they became covered in a thick layer of silent ash.

Two police officers – a man and a woman – glanced knowingly at one another when they came to retrieve his remains.  Their eye contact conveyed mutual support, steeling themselves for a sight they knew would be more appalling than anything they’d seen on the job so far.

Before that, I think there’d been a dream about snakes.

Fragments

Short fragments of dreams I can’t properly remember:

A platonic male friend saying quite matter-of-factly that he was in love with me. Dream-me found this delightful.

A really unpleasant dream involving my Dad; I’d rather not elaborate. It’s not that my Dad’s actually unpleasant.

Being given a framed photo showing a group of people on a night out, including both my ex long-term partner and someone I recently started seeing. (A similar scenario cropped up in hands to hold.)

Getting caught short in need of a toilet. I was a guest at someone else’s house, but I think I managed to cover up the worst of my embarrasment.

A Monster Calls

I’m reading A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness’ down-to-earth fantasy for young adults, about a boy who’s being haunted by a recurring nightmare, and an anthropomorphic tree that visits him at night.

Conor’s mum is dying, and every night he dreams of trying to hold on to her hand while she dangles off the edge of a precipice. Until along comes a yew tree in the shape of a man-monster, uprooted from the nearby churchyard, to tell Conor three stories and demand just one truth in return.

Author Siobhan Dowd created the concept for A Monster Calls when she, herself, had terminal cancer. Knowing she wouldn’t live long enough to write the book, she passed the idea on to Patrick Ness, who completed it after Siobhan’s monster has visited for the last time.

Ness uses Conor’s nightmares to explore the secret, unspeakable truths of how it feels to be losing the person closest to you. Guilty, rageful feelings that Conor would rather risk his own life than admit to.

So after reading this profoundly important tale of love and loss, imagination and rage, what does my mind come up with?

…I dreamt that I was applying mascara, and couldn’t keep from getting black scuff marks on my upper eyelid.

Really subconscious?

I mean, as nightmares go, I’ve had worse.

Thoroughly disappointed with my own apparent lack of depth or real sensitivity, I started getting ready for the new day. And reaching for my mascara wand, I saw this:

budget-mascara-fail

technic-monster-lash-600x399

mc_coverconcept08.jpg

illustration by Jim Kay, from A Monster Calls (2012)

Ok.

Phrased like that, what dream-me did there seems entirely reasonable.

MONSTERCALLS small

Mascara clumps. Nightmare.