The Dream:

A cloud of smoke. A cliche, she would say, but he never liked French, or art, or reading. She was always reading. He had thought she had those long black eyelashes to shadow her eyes from the glare of the page. It made him smile on the occasions he could sneak a glance at her, reading. Somehow, though, this was rare – the being able to secretly glance. Somehow she could tell, could see him through the fine fibres that provided a canopy to the shiny bulb of her eye. Not that they were buggy, although he once said that during an argument – that when she put on mascara like that her eyes looked buggy. Then they had really bulged, and he didn’t regret it. Not at first. Then he did. But she said that once you say something like that, that’s it. Even if you apologise and say you only said it because you were mad. She said that he still meant it when he said it, whether he regretted saying it or not. He said that it wasn’t true though and she said, What? So you just said it to hurt me, because you know I’m conscious about how I look? Because I know I’ll never look like small featured white Fucking Paris Fucking Hilton? Because when people say I’m striking what they mean is that I stand out because it looks like God highlighted the plan and selected bold when he made me? He had laughed but had to stop it and push it down and it made him feel sick because she wasn’t joking.

He remembers too much. The smoke – he likes science, and, looking at the curling particles, would once have liked to speculate what reaction could produce such effect, but, as I said, this is a dream. As such, he doesn’t have to be him. It doesn’t have to be chemical. This is a machine. The smoke is the machine. He steps into it and lets the steel grey diffuse intrusively through his thick cotton t-shirt, his boxer shorts, and the bobbled wool of his old socks. It stiffens and he lets go. He feels like he is being held at the peak of a park swing for too long, he starts to go dizzy, he feels his guts shift up (or down) to his chest. Even though his eyes are closed the black screen seems to be spinning.

When he opens them he still feels he’s spinning. Like he’s woken too soon and his body is having a tantrum; forcing his consciousness to roll around on another plane while he lies paralysed. He is comforted that it will pass. He closes his eyes and takes a breath, his thoughts flash to her probably at the toilet. A pause. A scream. Silence and a dry throat. The he on the other plane still calling in terror. The smallest thought, wish, dream.

© Lydia Allison 2012

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