Creative Writing

Dreams and reality

Every night, my dreams get stranger, but then they always have been strange. I’m back at school – I go back there often – and it’s Monday, P.E. day, but I don’t have my P.E. Kit. It’s not just a P.E. day, it’s a swimming day, and I have to borrow a swimming costume, which I suppose I manage with ease because suddenly I am in the swimming pool changing rooms. I see hundreds of purple cubicles in a huge room, high ceilinged like a warehouse. Some of them are showers, some of them are toilets and some of them are just changing rooms, but tiny changing rooms with too-small doors and broken locks. I know that the perfect changing room is somewhere in this vast chamber. No shower, no toilet, working lock, a door that reaches from the floor to at least above my shoulders. But I never find it.

There were only two private cubicles in the damp communal changing room of my old school’s swimming pool. Too bad if the locks were broken. There were no corridors, no mazes, no expanse of purple boxes with different sized doors like there are in my dream.

Another night whilst I slept in the bed of my university attic room, in my mind I was shopping for clothes in H&M. I looked through the racks of jeans and shirts and then I noticed a skirt that I liked but already had.

But I’ve never had that skirt. I’ve never seen that skirt.

I keep looking through the racks and a man who I had never seen before, a huge man with tiny eyes, turns around from looking at the clothes and walks towards me, his round doughy face growing big and angry. The top of his head is balding and a dark greasy ponytail hangs lank from the nape of his neck down the back of his shabby T-shirt. His face gets close to mine, as close as it can get, and he says the word “feminist.” I move backwards away from him, but still his face gets bigger, closer, and he says the word again, louder this time: “feminist.” I start to move quicker. I know I am in danger, and still he gets closer, coming towards me, faster now. I am moving backwards as fast as I can without turning around, because I can’t turn around. That word, one more time, this time yelled in my face: “FEMINIST.”

My eyes open and I look around my room, but things are crawling on my wall, and I am still dreaming. I close my eyes tight, open them again. The things have gone and my room is dark.

I suppose I am a feminist, depending on your definition, but I never really think about it.

During the summer I took a sixteen hour road trip with my dad and his girlfriend from Michigan to New Orleans. They took it in turns driving and sometimes I sat in the back sleeping, and sometimes I sat in the front, choosing the music. When I chose a song my dad didn’t like he’d say: “change it. It’s boring,” and when he heard one he did like he’d sing along loudly, sometimes using the right words, but more often, using the wrong ones. When his phone rang, which it did often, I turned the music off and listened to my dad shout at whoever was on the other end. He shouted at them even when he wasn’t angry with them, but he often was. Eight hours into the drive we spent the night in a Travelodge in Tennessee.

That night, I dreamt I was in a helicopter with my dad and his girlfriend. I don’t know why, or where we were going, but my dad was the pilot. We had flown for quite a long way, and I had been impressed when he performed some quite complicated manoeuvres. Suddenly it occurred to me: “I didn’t know that you could fly helicopters.” He replied “Oh yes. I’m not sure how to land them though.


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November 2021
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