(this is related to Nightmare)
Jack could tell from the rank smell that the bedding needed changing. He turned the pillow and settled his head into it again, but it made no difference – the same stench rose into his nostrils, gagging him slightly. But even that was better than the dream. He opened his mouth so that he didn’t have to breathe himself in. So that he didn’t have the stink of fear, anger, frustration and a deep sense of shame grabbing at his throat again. These were the things that had crept into his waking life from the hidden world of dreams.
Patterns on the inside of his eyelids swirled and coalesced into shapes as he slipped from sleepy into sleep. The forms brightened, took on substance, assumed shape, and there he was again, on the boat, lost in the midst of an endless desert of sand. He looked towards the distant hills surrounding him on all sides – hill of verdant green and he knew again that they were unreachable. Not that they were so far away, but because he was a … a … He looked down and saw the hem of a dress, the stick-like limbs beneath it, shiny shoes with a beautiful bow.
From far away, a voice called to him. A familiar voice. Insistent and clear. He raised his head expecting nothing more than the susurration of sand particle sweeping across the desert plain but instead saw a wall. Plainly white with a clock ticking away in the middle of that bare expanse. He didn’t have a clock. He had a phone that played a snatch of song to wake him on the mornings that he could be bothered to wake. The hypnotic tick of this clock sang to him. A lullaby. He was tempted to sleep again, but the voice, insistently calling, pulled him away.
He raised his head from the scratchy-clean pillow and realised that his face was wet. The soreness of his throat as he tried to swallow told of sobbing. He raised his hand to wipe the tears and saw an impossibly thin arm pass before him. His eyes widened, shocked and he sat up quickly, jerking the covers away from his body. No! Not again! The nightdress, the skinny legs; and everything soaked through. He raised the hem of the cloth, feeling it sticking to those legs, peeling it away until the whole mess was revealed.
Red, viscous and sticky. A thin wail rose in the back of his throat, but he fought it back. There was something about this red stuff – something familiar. He reached a hand downward, shocked again at how thin this arm was, and dipped a small finger into the sticky substance. Sniffing it strengthened his suspicion, and dabbing it briefly onto his tongue confirmed it. Jam! Strawbery Jam!! What the heck? He turned as the voice came again, stronger now. Closer. “Jack – wake up!” The movement of his head made the white walls blur and he woke with a gasp.
A banging on the door. His mum calling – again. The door handle turned and he realised, too late, that he had kicked off his covers in the night. Normally he wouldn’t be ashamed of his body. But in the wake of this dream, somehow the hard evidence of his virility felt wrong. Very wrong.
(continued in Mother & Child)