The other night I was in the queue at the Co-op, buying some groceries. I was next to be served and was about to make my move to the counter when I glanced sideways- my eye had been caught by a couple of people having a conversation at the head of an aisle. It was a woman with her kid in tow, chatting to another person who had their back to me. The woman was forty-something and sort of vibrant-looking, smiley. I was briefly wondering at how different we were, this woman and me, when suddenly something about the situation was apprehended on a weirdly strong gut level- namely the ickiness of walking about as a creature of a specific sex, among other-sexed creatures. As I moved towards the counter this dizzy spell continued, but it took on a couple of new aspects in succession; first I had an impression of the history of the world as a cacophony, then it felt like I was just going through motions in this shop, a moving part in some careening dynamic which was absurdly clothed, at this point in time, as ‘the Co-op’.
I was in France it seemed, making my way along a city block on foot. It was a faded, local part of the center, where crummy real lives were being lived up above my head. There was traffic passing and cars parked along the roadside, but no-one to be seen on foot at that moment. I had stopped to have a gawk at the only shop-front in the vicinity: A old green awning extending a little crookedly out over the pavement. There were a couple of foldaway tables set up beneath it, bearing nothing at all. The place looked like it had been cleaned out of goods. Even so their door was ajar- business welcome. Further down from this was a tiled entranceway into the block, presumably leading to a stairwell area. I was nervous about something so I ducked into the entranceway for a second.
Then suddenly it was bucketing rain and I had made the decision to go for a drive around the city-center. On a whim I turned down into an underground car park. I took a 360 degree spin round the mini-roundabout down there. This caused the attendant in his glowing booth to stand up and gesture for me to continue on to the next level down. I took the circling ramp down as directed and came off at the bottom into a claustrophobic little area- a cave of sorts- smooth concrete and lit up like a car- park, but too small to be useful for car parking, and tapering off into irregularity and shadow at the end furthest from me. I could have just continued my circling trajectory and aimed the car immediately back up the up-ramp. It was unusually steep however. Also my attention had been caught by something -there was a woman down there in the shadowy, tapering bit, standing facing away from me. I was intrigued so I stopped the car and shut off the engine, bringing total quiet and stillness to this subterranean space. You could have heard a pin drop. The woman was up to something- fixing herself in some way, facing the wall. She was tall and sturdy and blonde. She looked ungraceful: her long hair was frizzy and she was wearing drooping stonewashed jeans with heels. I could tell she was large-chested, even from behind.
As an excuse for remaining there I had begun smoking a cigarette with the window down. The smoke hung thickly in the air around the exterior of the car. Once the cigarette was done I needed a new excuse. There was a sink on the wall near to me, a simple public-toilet style mirror screwed into the concrete above it. I stepped out of the car and went over to wash my hands. When I looked up from my hands the woman was there in the mirror behind me, very close-up, horror-movie style. It gave me a shock. But then she began studying her chest in the reflection, with just that area filling the whole mirror somehow. She was tugging at and rearranging her bra under her thin pullover. This was a little arousing- it was a pretty intimate situation. I rotated on the spot a bit and with a knowing half-smile extended my hand out towards the fixtures, offering to make way for her. Then I straightened up and looked directly at her. She stared right back at me. There was something off about her- she was beastly in some way- her skin was caked in stuff and perhaps her eyebrows weren’t all there. She continued to look at me blankly, and I became very afraid of her. She turned herself then, tottering back to her original spot. Now I saw that her back was slit open in a few places and simply creasing apart like card, revealing that there was nothing within. She was making a show of this to me. She continued over to her spot by the back wall to begin doing again whatever it was she had been doing before. Shitting myself somewhat, I walked all casual towards my car, which was now parked on the very steep up-ramp. I got in and locked it, panicking, trying to get the key in the ignition. There was a thumping on the back window just then. I didn’t dare look round, but I craned round a little to see if she was still over by the back wall. She wasn’t. Just a moment later, while I was still panicking to get the car started, I felt a pair of arms reaching low from behind the driver’s seat and encircling my waist, which was when I woke up with a fright!
Edit, like about 2 years later: This is shite. The dream was a cool neat little package, but the writing is awful. Even I can’t visualise anything from this, and I’m the one had the dream. It’s all stiff and laboured as hell. I was so excited too when I first produced it. Jesus. Lesson: I’m not good at writing descriptively. In fact I’m bad at it. That’s demoralising. It’s fairly clear you either have it or you don’t. It’s not something you can learn. You either have soul or you don’t. Fuck. Some of my other opinion and criticism-type posts are still quite entertaining though, even reading back two years later. So, yeah. Fine.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
I can’t recall ever having a pleasant dream. My dreams are always fraught these days. I would guess the reason for this is the fact that I’m missing important shit from my life, like fulfilling work, love and sex. Any one of those sorted and I’d probably sleep well again. The hour before my alarm goes off is the worst for demented dreaming. This morning it was a woman and me exchanging videos of her having sex. Only she was visible in the videos, looming over a low angle camera pointing upwards. I’d send her one and say ‘you’, then she’d send me one back saying ‘me’. But overshadowing it all was this terrible feeling that she was in fact a transexual man. (I’ve had transexuality on the brain lately. I think it’s having a moment) Then the alarm on my phone kicked in. It couldn’t tune radio 4 this morning so it went to its second option, some European pop station I had decided on at random, to broaden my horizons. Viva Forever by the Spice Girls was playing. What a tune, with sporty spice echoing back each line of the chorus in her silly Liverpool accent. I lay there listening, in that adrenaline pumping yet physically exhausted state of discomfort that I’m always waking to lately.
Simpleton that I am, my dreams often relate unambiguously to whatever it is that’s occupying me during waking hours. Being 30 and without a career, or even a job just at the minute, the feeling that I’m in grave danger sometimes arises in me. Am I past the point of no return? I am taking steps to move forward but it’s still a worry. One night I dreamed I parked my car along a wide commercial road. The shops were shut and the area was devoid of life. I went to the passenger door to lock it and noticed that I’d left the handbrake off. I opened the door and sat half-in facing the headrest to reach across and pull the handbrake. Before I could reach the handbrake however a malfunctioning mechanism made the seat-back start whirring forward. I needed to adjust my position to be able to reach the handbrake now. The whirring mechanism outdid me though and I was becoming trapped by the seat-back. I could no longer reach the handbrake and the car had started to roll. I saw a single person walking quickly up the other side of the road away from me, quite a distance away. I tried to shout out the open door twice but it surfaced as a whisper both times. The runaway car was gaining momentum with me pinned to the passenger seat facing backwards, and I realised with horror that catching that person’s attention had been my last chance, at which point I woke up completely tense.