A sample of my most recent work …
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Chapter Two – My Secret Audience
(Confused Murky Turquoise)
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, that’s simple … because I need to tell someone!
Only two people in this world knew about my secret when I was growing up, and both of those relationships were rather complicated. They also happened to be the only two people who were able to see me when I navigated into their dreams.
I made the mistake of navigating into one of Dad’s dreams the same day I fell into Quincy’s show. I wanted to make sure that I could really do it. That I hadn’t actually fallen asleep myself, and dreamed of Quincy’s show.
A dream inside a dream.
And so that night, when I got home, so excited that I knew there was no chance of me sleeping myself, I sat and waited. Sat listening for the radio waves to hum; for that strange TV in another room to chirp to life. I guess Dad must have drifted off before my brother Dominic, or maybe Dom’s dream wasn’t ‘loud’ enough, because it was Dad’s frequency that I tuned into this time.
The show was so different to Quincy’s I was taken aback. I hadn’t even realised I was expecting his show to be the same as the toddler’s until I registered my own shock. Dad’s show was so dark. I could barely focus my eyes in the darkness. The room smelled of sadness … damp and dingy. And then I heard his voice.
‘GET OUT!!!!!!! Get out, get out, get out!!!’
Who was he shouting at? I wondered. What crazy monster would appear from the depths of my father’s mind? But no monster appeared … just my irate father, who looked me straight in the eye … ‘Get the hell out of my dream Ruth …’ he stumbled, ‘Ellody Ruth!’
Ruth was my mother’s name. She died when I was four. I don’t remember much about her. My memories are more like snapshots, and most of those come from real photos where my childhood brain confused what I remember with photos I’ve seen. But the one thing I do remember, and I know I remember it happening, rather than remember it because someone told me that it happened, is how she would hold me as I fell asleep. And if I was lucky, she would sing.
But my father wasn’t singing.
He was screaming. An angry, blood-curdling scream. Anger was an emotion I’d never heard in him before. Since Mum’s death he’d always just been so down-trodden. The epitome of a doormat, he was emotionally flattened, as if half of the life had been squished out of him the moment Mum passed away. I don’t think I’d known he possessed the energy to scream so passionately at me … but he did … and that night he continued screaming long after the dream was over. Though he was no longer screaming at me. Instead he shouted and sobbed in the privacy of his and my mother’s bedroom. Sobbing her name, and knowing a locked door could keep me out of his waking moments, even if it couldn’t keep me out of his sleeping ones.
That night was a turning point.
Not just because of the obvious – my discovery. But because from that night onwards, Dad just stopped talking to me. It was as if he didn’t know what to say to me now that I’d seen the inside of his head. If that is, in fact, the forum for the shows? Even now I’m still a little unsure on the technicalities. All I know is that everyone’s shows seem to take place on a different Stage. And that night my Dad’s Stage was a very dark place.
Dad wasn’t the only member of my family who could see me when I navigate. My brother Dom could do it too. The weird thing with Dom though, was that he actually talked more to me in my dreams than he did in real life. Not that he ever really remembered.
Because, as you know, dreams aren’t permanent memories; well not for the person dreaming at least.
Occasionally a dream leaves a profound enough mark that it might remain with you upon waking, or that at least some of the major events or details imprint in your mind, but for the most part all dreams do is leave an impression. A sense. You might wake up feeling discontented, or angry, or in love, and not really know what the exact cause of that feeling was. My conversations with Dom were the same. Whilst he was still him inside his dreams, the conversations were taking place inside his subconscious, so he would normally only remember a sense of what has happened. Or at least that’s what he said.
I used to think of it like having two brothers – the one in the dreams, who was caring and open; and the one outside the dreams, who was distant and guarded. I guess that’s what having a sister who can climb inside your head does to you!
Dom is two years my senior, and once I’d discovered my ability, we were quick to draw up some rules. A teenage boy’s dreams are not necessarily somewhere a young girl wants to visit, and so early on Dom and I developed a procedure. As soon as I heard his voice narrating, the most obvious indicator that I was seeing his show, though in reality the Stages of those close to me were as familiar as their voices, I would place my hands over my eyes, and begin to count. Dom would listen for the counting, come find me, and normally tell me when I can open my eyes. However, on a few occasions he demanded I leave the dream, a feat far harder than you would think!
I’m drawn to dreams.
But not every dream has the same amount of pull. Maybe it’s just personal taste – like flicking through radio stations until you find a song you like, but with dreams it’s like I struggle to hear the less appealing stations over the most interesting. One dream will always stand out amongst the rest. Over the years I’ve narrowed down the factors – the closer the dreamer is physically to me, the closer he or she is emotionally to me, the mental stress of what the dreamer is dreaming. They all seem to be features, which affect how ‘loud’ that particularly station is.
And once I commit to one show, it’s extremely hard to then tune into an alternative.
That chosen show – the one that speaks most loudly to me – it’s like sitting in a room full of noise, where everyone else is talking in a language you don’t fully understand. But there in the corner of the room is a TV show that’s on in English, and no matter how hard you try not to listen to it, your realise you’re hearing every word.
Perhaps I ought to explain something. I don’t just navigate ‘night’ dreams. I can navigate daydreams too.
Whilst daydreams seem to have less of a tug on me – as if my brain can resist a little more strongly when I’m not tired – I still find myself drifting. I do my best to avoid daydreaming opportunities. Gyms and public transport seem to be the most difficult locations, but at school it was always hard to sit in a classroom and focus on the teacher when almost every child in the room buzzed like a transistor radio. As a result I’ve see inside every one of my friend’s heads.
Do you know how hard it is to have a conversation with someone you know almost everything about, when you should only actually know a fraction of it all? I might not be able to hear people’s thoughts, but daydreams can still tell me an awful lot about a person. And awful seems to be the operative word.
When people daydream, they force the story.
They add the characters they want, into the scenarios they want, and then play with their own conscious thoughts. And as a result, the messages these dreams convey are so much more powerful than night time shows. It is in daydreams that I learn people’s secrets. Their hopes and ambitions.
Their night dreams tend to just show me their fears.
So tell me, how do you make friends when you know all that? When you know that Carly fancies Stu, but he really has feelings for Chris, and Chris secretly fantasises about his cousin? When you realise your friends delight in the thought of beating you in exams, and dream about beauty pageants and talent competitions where they kick your arse? When your closest friends secretly fancy your boyfriend, and you can see everything they want to do to him, in detail?
Why would I want to see all that?
I don’t! But I also don’t have any choice!! They can’t see me inside their dreams, so there’s no way of warning them I’m there. It’s not like Dom and our ‘procedure’. If I stood at the edge of their dreams with my eyes covered, counting out loud, I’d be there a very long time … trust me, I’ve tried.
And so in the end, I just decided to live with it.
Or rather, not live. My teenage life consisted of other people’s dreams, and that’s about it. Real world social interaction proved too difficult, and whenever I felt lonely I would hide out in someone’s dream. How can you feel lonely when you’re inside someone else’s head? When every moment is narrated, and their voice booms down so loudly it literally shakes the Stage?
In some ways I had the very best audience. I could talk about anything and everything. I can tell my deepest darkest secrets to everyone and to nobody at the same time, because with the exception of Dom and Dad, when I was inside someone else’s dream, he or she could never hear me.
And that’s why I’m telling you all this.
Because you can’t really hear me! Because when you wake up the most I’ll ever be is a weird sense of information. You’ll know you learnt something in your dream, you just won’t know what. It’ll be there on the tip of your tongue – an itch you just can’t scratch, because you don’t know where it is. You are the best possible audience.
My secret audience!
© C-C Lester 2011