The next dreamer on the list is Jerrie. We share a mutual acquaintance in the form of retail jobs and had a swell time sitting next to each other in class (oops sorry to the lecturer who shall not be named but we were sort of mean). This next story is gorgeous. I remember reading it and workshopping it in class. I hope you love it just as much.
I woke up that morning knowing exactly what I was going to do.
In my imagination I could still see you there, feel the warmth of your body and the touch of your coarse skin, the stale feeling of morning kisses. But when I grudgingly peeled my eyes open, there was nobody. I tried to reach out for you, but with each passing moment the transparent you slipped between the folds of the sheets and slithered away from me. I clutched at a handful of the pale material desperately, tears burning my lids because I’d lost you again.
I sunk as deep into the comforting bed as I could, pulling a sheet over my head and squeezing my eyes tight, firmly believing that if I ignored the day and the world, it would simply cease to exist. A clatter of tiny feet downstairs reminded me there were others here, but I didn’t recognize their voices. When the door to my room slowly creaked open and a timid voice enquired after a Mum, I ignored it.
I fell into a fitful and relentless sleep only to wake up feeling more traumatized than before. I didn’t know what to do, so I moved to get up but my legs wouldn’t work. I slid hopelessly to the floor, and sat there quietly, not caring about anything. All I could see was a grey endless room and I wondered if I was forever going to feel this, this numb, hollow nothing of an existence.
I don’t know how long I stayed there like that, incapable of any thought, but eventually I came back to consciousness long enough to stand up and make my way downstairs to the kitchen. Realizing how my body was physically aching, I took some asprin from the medicine cabinet and moved to the sink for water. It dawned on me suddenly how clinical and automatic all my movements had become, how I felt nothing any more, I just did out of sheer habit. I looked down at my hand and realized that the glass was overflowing and water was pouring down over my hand and away into that endless darkness of a drain. I hadn’t even felt it. Turning the tap and mopping up stray drops that irritated me more than they should, I heard a noise outside. It felt so familiar, yet I couldn’t place it. It didn’t belong here, it belonged somewhere in the past, somewhere far away so I didn’t have to deal with it.
Through the window I saw a car pull up and a woman with flaming, uncontrollable ringlets emerge, waving at me with one hand while trying to keep an oversized hat balanced atop her curls with the other. She waved to me with such familiarity that I felt like I should know her; I should recognize and respond with equal enthusiasm or at least a sense of being grateful; but I felt nothing for this stranger.
She let herself into the house casually and immediately poured forth an endless banter like her mouth could run on and on forever, about anything and nothing, and when the world ended there would just be this one red-stained being always making noise for none to hear. There was a Tupperware meal; kids are doing well; money and support and something; something. Suddenly we were at a table with coffee mugs, her hand lightly on mine and a concerned look on her face. I’ve no idea what happened next.
Mid-afternoon and I sat in the garden with four jumpers on. The day was bright and clear, but the sun failed to warm me. Two jumpers mine, two jumpers yours.
Three children, only about 8 years between them, played happily and noisily with toys and bugs until a woman, a nanny maybe, called them inside. I threw my head back and looked at the sky. I thrust my head down and stared at the grass. I slid my body off the garden chair and onto the grass, sliding into a patch of sun and nestling myself in the green sea, brushing my fingertips back and forth against the bristly blades. After a time I realized I wasn’t alone and looking up, I saw the youngest of the children was standing in front of me, looking down and speaking in some language I couldn’t comprehend. As soon as I looked at her, she crawled down and nuzzled next to me, and I hugged her so tight into me I wondered if I might accidentally smother her. She had your eyes.
The evening was my favourite time: when all the light had gone and these tiny beings slept soundly. I’d sit in your study and pour myself a shot of something from your bar, going through your things numbly. I don’t know what I was looking for – hope, comfort, an answer? But tonight I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
I went to your study, poured myself a glass of whiskey and only took one of my sleeping pills, pocketing the others. Then carefully, after scrutinizing a photo of us on our honeymoon you’d kept on your desk, I took my thin, nightdress-clad body outside and down to the basement door. Letting myself in with strong resolve, I pocketed the key, found the shovel and left as quickly as I could manage.
The closer I dug to you, the more desperate I felt and the faster I flung earth away from you. Then I was on the ground, pulling dirt away with my hands – the shovel abandoned and flung elsewhere – because it seemed like I was closer to you that way. With each lower depth I felt more justified in doing this, because you were here and I just wanted to be with you again. There were stains all over my dress and my body shivered, but my face showed nothing other than determination and I thought of nothing but you.
Finally I hit the surface of your wooden box and with a sigh of relief I lay myself down with you, smiling peacefully as rain began to fall heavily down upon us, washing away the stray clumps of dirt clinging to us and with them all sense of wrongdoing and reality.
Because all that matters is we love one another.
About the Dreamer
Jerrie Johnstone has a love of linguistic and believes that chocolate solves all writer’s block (that’s her excuse, anyway).
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