Describe A Dream You Remember
When I was 9 I had a very superstitious friend. (We would later fall out over going on a ghost tour of our home town – funny, the things we fall out over as children). We were sitting on the school field on a particularly sunny day. Me squinting at her as the sun glared down, almost as if it was trying to penetrate my skull and get into my mind. She was lying back on the grass, not bothered by the intensity of the light. She was describing a dream she’d had recently.
She had been wearing an emerald green, satin ball gown. Dancing, there had been so much dancing, she told us. Her dress had twirled around her as she was spun by captains dressed in red, and courtly gentlemen in black. Their strong arms would catch her back again, leading her on to the next move in the dance while she remained dizzy in a swirl of colour and twinkling jewels. She remembered the ball room. The most enormous windows, stretching from floor to ceiling, the glass panels as big as doors offered a glimpse into the world outside. The light from the stars throbbed between bright and dim, in an echo of her rapidly beating heart. She reckoned it was the court of Queen Elizabeth I. And, crucially, she had had this dream three times.
“If you dream anything more than twice, it was true! No, honestly, my Mum says so! If you dream the same dream more than twice, it’s a memory from one of your past lives. I wonder who I was…”
Her voice had tailed off dreamily as she imagined, her mind embellishing the experiences of this person she had once been. Soon a handsome gentleman turned up for her to dance with each night. Rather than being passed from man to man she would wait all night to dance with this one, tall, dark and handsome stranger. Well of course our young minds ran with that one.
I was envious of her beautiful past life. There is only one dream that had recurred – also three times – in my sleeping state.
Captian Hook chasing me and my family (us in a 4×4 car, Hook and his pirates in their flying ship) up a hill. Somehow I doubted that this was my past life.
Hook and his men chased us endlessly up that hill. It was shaped like a Mr Whippy 99, the road carved around it, forcing it into that distinctive swirling shape up to its narrow peak. Round and round we would go until we reached the crest –
– And at that point my imagination would always become self-conscious. It would realise, quite suddenly, that this story wasn’t something already written to be followed, without choice, until its end. No, my mind was imagining. And now it didn’t know where to go.
So we would hover, the flying Jolly Roger would rise in front of us in the air, and just sit there. The pirates would lunge and my family would lean back in terror. The pirates would lunge and my family would lean back in terror. And again and again. My brain would sometimes flip between the two – weak attempts to add diversity and intrigue to the dream.
I remember nothing more distinctly than the faces of those pirates. They were terrifying. Teeth bared, spittle visible both on their teeth and leaping from their mouths as they shouted and screamed with glee. Like monkeys they would cling to the rigging and use their extremely long, bandy arms to reach towards us through the air.
I never really knew what they were planning to do to us. I remember swords. The type that begin slim at the handle and become wider and curved along the sword’s length. The picture of these glinting while we hovered in the cloudy sky is so clear in my memory, that I imagine my family’s fate would probably have revolved around those swords. If my imagination had ever made it that far.
Looking back at pictures of the Disney film, the pirates are not scary at all. My nine-year-old self felt very differently. Terror would spread through me, like liquid filling its container, no sooner did the fright spill from my heart than it was everywhere. Inescapable. Maybe that’s why my brain held out on devising an ending to this story – I was just too scared to find out what might come next.
It has only just occurred to me that when my imagination became self conscious at the end of these dreams, I was probably starting to lucid dream. Giving it a name like that sounds very impressive, but really I think instances like that were the beginnings of a mind that doesn’t trust my own creativity to end the stories it starts. A mind so doubtful of itself that it either couldn’t, or chose not to provide me with the satisfying endings that I would later turn to books to find.