First thoughts

You realised slowly that you had in fact dreamt it, that it was just a dream, even though you were still within the dream when you realised. Oh good, it can’t be real, you figured, understanding somehow that it was a dream and that you were still asleep.

Those few horrific moments continued to plague your sleep, returning and replaying. And haunting. Even when you turned over and shook yourself into a momentary consciousness, attempting to finally shake it off – to begin a new, unconnected dream – even after that it returned.

Again and again.

The gunshot. A dangerous fizz, deafening crack, deadening splut.

You’ve never liked her much, your mother’s friend. Every time you meet her you try to like her, but always end up feeling annoyed with her. You think she believes herself magnificently entertaining to everyone who speaks to her, and anyone who disagrees is an idiot. You don’t agree. Still you appease her and wish her no bad feeling because she and her placid husband are good friends to your parents.

So when you saw the bullet enter the side of her head and the blood immediately seep out in ribbons as she slumped over, her head thudding on the desk for good measure, then you were shocked and scared. Possessed by an internal intense terror and punishing responsibility. What were you doing there? In that scene? You never found out, you had no role to play in it, a fly on the wall. And it was just a dream anyway.

So why were you still feeling guilty? Because, what if she was actually dead, somehow? Don’t be ridiculous, you told yourself, knowing you wouldn’t check.

When your day began, when you were eating your toast and brushing your teeth, back the memory poured. Insistently levering its way back into your mind. A harrowing blood-red washing across the freeze-frame.

And at inopportune times throughout the day. When you were in a meeting attempting to form a response (your reply took longer than normal and you knew your colleagues were wondering if you were all right). When you were bored, trying to terminate an unnecessarily detailed phone call.


Part of the shock was that it was unexpected. The scenario wasn’t highly likely. The woman you don’t like who would never be wrong about anything, she had been accused of a motoring offence. In a police interview room with here were two officers and her alleged victim, a quiet young asian man.  None were injured.

She believed he was at fault and reacted incredulously towards anyone who couldn’t understand this, shrieking melodramatically. Why they were even in a police station interview room in the first place was never clear. You had no physical place in the scene at all.

The silent young victim nonchalantly pulled out a gun and shot her – FizzCrackSplut – before lying his weapon down on the table and allowing himself to be seized by preposterously calm, unshocked police officers.

A short scene with little, if any intelligible dialogue. Aside from her dramatic remonstrations, the others were sombre, dutifully playing out the scene you orchestrated from a far off place. Then the dramatic climax, and you’re not even sure if it would have sounded like that as you’ve never heard anything like it in reality: simply pieced it together from films.

Then an abrupt cut. You next find yourself chatting to two police officers on a bridge over a motorway. They’re not surprised when you retell the story of what just happened. In fact, they predict what happens before you’ve even reached that part of the story. That happens a lot in your dreams. You can never surprise anybody you speak to.
On the bus to work in the morning, the images were still fresh, replaying themselves with a vile vigour. You couldn’t remember doing anything that would have evoked such a dream. No thriller novels or war films. The back of the woman’s head four seats in front could have been her’s. Except it wasn’t, because she lives hundreds of miles away.

A postscript to the dream shortly afterwards doesn’t remain as vivid but is the last connection before your mind escapes the chain of this dream and sets you free. She is alive. You saw her in another scene where you had no physical presence, on a lush, long grassed hill where she frolicked with children and a dog. It felt like heaven. This is where she went, this is where you sent her after flippantly designing her assassination, you evil person. You left her there and floated away. It’s not that postscript that you remember though, is it?


Eventually it slides away from prominence in your mind.

That is, until you settle to sleep again tonight. The newly relaxed state of your body and mind chillingly reacquaints you with your first thoughts of the day. You shiver, turn over, shut your eyes tight, try to pack the images away.

And now you sleep.


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