November 14th

Good morning - and here's your Message for today...


Last night I dreamt about someone I see regularly on the train.

We’ve never talked, but there’s an energy between us that’s hard to describe, just something you feel.

I knew it was him straight away in my dream even though he was dressed in a long black cloak with a hood that came right over his face. He kept holding out his hand and I tried to grab it but he was always just one step ahead of me. All I could think of was putting one foot in front of the other. The path up the mountain got narrower and narrower but I couldn’t see the end. Even the top of the mountain was hidden in the clouds.

There was snow everywhere that night but it wasn’t crisp. It felt as if I was wading in toffee. My legs were heavy but I knew if I could just catch up with him, I’d finally be safe.

So much snow. The cold circled my heart with ice. In comparison, he was surrounded by a glowing ring of fire. I wanted so much to catch up with him, but his hand was always out of reach.

It was good to wake up.

I was nervous catching the train this morning, but neither of us looked at each other. I tried to forget my dream but when we got to our destination, I couldn’t stop shivering. It was so cold in the carriage. Icy. Then I felt him standing behind me. In my panic, I opened the carriage door too early. The last thing I remember was the feel of him pushing hard at my back, the shock of trying to grab for his hand as I fell back. And back.

But however hard I tried, I couldn’t reach his hand.


  1. The door handle creaks and our son comes into our room shaking, too afraid to go to the toilet because the light is dimmed. He says he has been dreaming about the black wolf. That’s OK, I say, it was just a dream. But the wolf book is on the top of my book box next to my bed, he says. Well then, I’ll move it. I take the book and balance it on the banister at the top of the stairs. On page 38 is a picture of a creature with fangs, bloodied stalagtites and stalagmites, its crimson tongue is dripping out of its gaping, cavernous mouth like a carpet ready to roll the next victim into its jaws. The image is covered in a violently executed scrawl of biro, not mine. He went back to his bed and I lay there, in awe of my power to soothe him so easily but guilty that the book has found its way into his dreams.

    I have dreams of the sea. Of precarious shacks on the beach, of wading out to my thighs, of trying to tell people that there is a wave coming, I rush from shack to shack but it’s always too late, no one will listen, I can always see the wall coming from the horizon, thundering towards me and no matter where I am standing at that moment, that moment which is always the same, it is about to break and then nothing but the essence of terror which follows me into the day.

    I have dreams that my husband ignores me, that when he doesn’t, he says I smell and then when I tell him this the next day, he says laughs, saying that he shouldn’t be punished for what he does in my dreams.

  2. Once in a moment you meet a man who blows you away. It usually happens when you’re least expecting. When you’re not really ready.

    I was walking along an empty road. That’s when my moment happened. That’s when I met him.

    I was strolling along, looking down to avoid cracks when I nearly walked into a ladder. I remember the ladder being silver and thinking that it was perhaps a bit too shiny.
    I heard him.
    "Divvent walk under me ladda lass."

    I looked up to the top of the ladder.
    Oh my God.
    I’m talking sweat dripping muscles, blond curls, the greenest of eyes and blue Speedos. Perfectly tight sea blue Speedos.
    My mouth actually fell open.

    Anyway. I stopped walking. Stared up at Michelangelo’s David. My mouth was flapping and dribble had started to bubble out. I couldn’t find any words.
    He spoke.
    “You'll get yorsel a hundred years of bad luck fre tha.”

    I still couldn’t find words. But. At least I got my legs moving again. I walked under the perhaps a bit too shiny ladder and I’d taken maybe eleven steps when I heard him shout.
    "Well I did warn yee."

    I stopped.
    I turned my whole body around to face him.

    Then came the moment.

    He put his finger to his lips and blew me a kiss. The kiss flew through the air and landed right in the middle of my chest. It was perfectly aimed.
    It blew me away.
    No. Really. It did.
    I went flying at least a hundred metres up into the air and then I landed smack bang bump on my back. My body shattered into a thousand and four odd shaped pieces.
    I really haven’t a hope in hell of being complete again.

  3. People were supposed to dream of flying. Or so they say. I don’t know. I never dream of flying. I wish I did, though. Instead I have a constant nightmare ever since I got this job. The first two weeks or so, everything was fine. Well, at work everything’s still fine. It’s the dreams I’ve been having for months now that have totally spooked me.

    I dream one and the same thing several times a month. My friend keeps saying the dreams show that deep down I desire my boss. I don’t. She’s a freak. And so am I for dreaming such things. I admit, my boss is rather attractive and a nice guy. We have a good professional relationship and we go for drinks now and again. Together with the other colleagues from the office, of course.

    I know there must be some fear involved or something to explain the dreams. But I can’t say I’ve ever felt anything negative towards him. I’m always relaxed in his company and I can trust him completely, work-wise. There must be something else, something so deep, I just can’t get to it so my dreams are trying to push it up onto the surface.

    I don’t discuss it with my friend anymore because every time I mentioned it, she squealed and then started laughing maniacally. I know the dream is funny in a way, but I still shudder when I wake up. It’s not pleasant to dream about how you’re photocopying a document in your office when your boss turns up and suddenly air blows from under the photocopier, lifts your skirt and shows you’re not wearing anything underneath it. And the worst is when he grins stupidly and says, “The socks don’t really fit.” I never wear socks with a skirt.


  4. Dreams are a bit odd, if you ask me. Do you ever get the ‘deja-vu’ effect? I know I do. Not often, but often enough that I remember it, I have the full and certain knowledge that I have previously dreamed of a present situation to such a vivid extent that I will check that things match.

    The last one was a couple of months ago. I was sat at my desk when the flash of recognition came. I looked around to check details. In my dream Spiderman had been present and nunchucka. That confused me in the dream. I didn’t like Spiderman and had nothing to do with the Japanese weapon. In reality, my daughter was watching Spiderman in the other room and in the period between the dream and the reality I had taken a workshop in nunchuka, thus having a pair on my desk.

    I was able to predict the next five minutes worth of words from the wyves and, thanks to the foresight, alter the future by mentioning that I didn’t want chicken for tea.

    We had pasta instead. Now the question is: was that genuine precognition of was I imagining the memory? If it was the former, did I alter destiny by avoiding the chicken? If I have spiralled down an alternate universe is the one I left behind one where I didn’t break a leg, or did something far worse happen?

    Am I talking an utter load of tripe, here?

    If you don’t believe in destiny and fate, then you probably think I am. Perhaps we are all living the same day over and over and deja-vu is just, as the actor said, a glitch in the matrix.

    Dreams are a bit odd, if you ask me. Do you ever get the ‘deja-vu’ effect?

  5. Everyone is hiding something. One day you may dip into me, learn of the desire I keep within, the excitement that holds me together.

    I should ask for help, maybe see a psychiatrist who would delve into my twisted thoughts, unravel them. But in my heart I don’t really want that. I need to hold onto the daily dream of standing close to someone, so close that they feel the warmth of my breath on their neck, the fear as my fingers knead into the small of their back, the horror of falling.

    I’ll leave the scene quickly. I won’t glance down at the track, the bloody mess, the splattered flesh on the rails. I’m quite squeamish about such things. I avoid horror films, books that speak of unforgivable crimes, cringe at unsavoury news items.

    I so look forward to that day. The moment my desire becomes reality I’ll glow. I sense the heat of the volcano inside me waiting to erupt. It will finish in a moment of glory and I’ll be complete.

    But who to choose and when? I’m haunted day and night by the fear of making a disastrous mistake. Grey-faced businessmen with the obligatory rolled umbrella, a copy of F.T. under their arm; harassed housewives escaping from monotony; rowdy school kids pushing and jostling line the platform. So much choice.

    I walk along the familiar route muffled in my cashmere cloak with matching hood. I sense the time is near; this may be the day. I stand close to a small woman, an easy prey. A blast of icy air signals the approach of the train. I shiver and snuggle into the depth of the cloak, slip under its hood. I reach forward to reach her but it drops over my eyes. I’m falling. Falling. Falling.

  6. His hand was all I could find in the rubble, in the warm settling of soot and char. The rest: six foot two of bone and muscle, and blood and brawn and thought and memory and deceit and adultery. Blown away. Poof! Like a dandelion clock, tick tock, stopped.

    In the chill of the moment I almost threw it; chucked it, flung it, high and flying, a hand span spinning. A five finger gesture, a final rude goodbye.

    I considered burying it, with psalms and solemnity. A sprinkling of ashes to ashes, to dust. Laid white on plum velvet, a single hand praying, or fingers curved foetal, ready for the re-awakening.

    A wake, we could have had a wake; with finger food, okra, handkäse cheese, ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ playing on a loop. A proper send off: “Toodle-pip!” as the train chugs out of the station.

    Then stamped two feet full on the earth and stuck in a stick, a stone, a shard of a memory. Here lies. Here lied. Here fibbed and cheated and deceived. Here lies the hand that took but never gave.

    The Complete Homepreserver, its front cover, made up my mind. A sealed glass jar, with contents suspended, eternal; not allowed to just rot away. The recipe was simple: two litres of white vinegar and a handful (of course) of coarse salt. I could have used alcohol, the Rumtopf was still redolent of summer fruits, but he was always more fish-and-chips than fine-cigars-and-brandy.

    Lifting the lid now, summer is over. The pale points of his fingers glimmer. Dead coral in an acid sea. I rock the jar, a tidal shimmer. They slur a silent undulation; not waving, not drowning. Not caressing, not betraying, not making a deal. A hand forever reaching out, but never breaking through.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. In the League of Welldoers, where I go for my dinner, there is a woman. She doesn`t notice me. There`s another that steals the show. A dapper we called them in my day. Vincent. He`ll be sucking on his mashed potato, and, without warning burst into song and dance about his Mammy. He`s got them all eating out of his palm alright. They`ll clap, rock their shoulders, sing along, it`s a sight to behold. He shouts across the table to her. "Remember this one Nellie love? Bet you had all the men wriggling in their breeches. Nellie Blackthorne you sex pot!" Then he will twitch his curled moustache, stooping low to serenade the gushing Nellie.

    Today is different. Today he`s not here. I am sitting opposite Nellie, scratching my bald head trying to come up with something interesting to say. Isn`t it strange learning to live again? Like drinking from a bottle with the top left on.I can`t sing or dance, still there must be something of interest left in me. We are served soup the colour of tears by a partly dressed girl wearing a nose ring. We sip slowly.

    Any moment now my chance to break the silence will be gone. I`m losing my bottle. Then I remember something that happened during the night.

    "Do you dream Nellie?"
    "Yes I do Joe."
    "Do you want to know a secret?"
    "You was in my dream last night."
    "Tell me more."

    She puts her hand on top of mine and I turn to stardust. Nobody has touched my skin for more than twenty years. She is warm, alive. I feel my battered eyes welling up. "Tell me about your dream. Isn`t it just the most wonderful way to spend the hours?"
    Her eyes turn velvet, like Vincents voice.

  9. It's a kind of curse, knowing something will happen.
    Some people think it's a gift, if they ever think about it at all.
    They believe that if only they could see the future they could stop their loved ones being ill, avoid the car that's coming the other way, as yet unseen around the corner, or buy a lottery ticket with numbers they know are bound to win.
    But you can know that something is going to happen, without having any idea when, or how, or why. You may not even know precisely what is going to happen.
    Knowing that something is going to happen, but not when or how or why or even what.
    That is a curse.

    Thinking something will happen is not so bad, like: my lover will leave me if I don't have sex often enough; if I stop smacking the kids they will behave better; I'll be happy when we move house.

    Feeling that something may happen can be OK.
    If you feel someone close reaching, touching or about to reach and touch, then you can reach back and that may draw them closer. That can feel good, if it turns out that was what you both felt.
    Sometimes those feelings can lead to hurt.
    She feels he's going to push her away, he feels she just needs a hand to get going.
    He feels he'll catch her if she falls, she feels he'll catch her if she doesn't run.
    Like tossing a coin, someone is likely to be disappointed - unless they felt all along they were certain to lose.

    But when you absolutely know something's has to happen, even when you are not certain what it is. That's different.
    When you know something has to happen, it will.
    It absolutely will.

  10. I’m a Zoologist, a strong healthy man of thirty-eight, contributing considerably towards the advancement of my specialist area, with a well paid and interesting job. I dream most nights, so waking up that morning, a month ago, felt quite normal. I know what you’re thinking, but you’re quite wrong. You see this wasn’t a dream. It was, is now, real.

    It wasn’t until I struggled to get out of bed that the whole thing hit me. I fell on the floor. Heaving myself up using both hands, I tried to walk, but felt this dragging weight behind me, not exactly pain, but it was very difficult for me to balance. I staggered to the full length mirror.

    There was no mistaking it. A kangaroo’s tail; thick, long, greyish, growing from just above the anus. I did the only practical thing I could think of, cut holes in underpants and trousers and successfully manoeuvred the tail through both. It was obviously averse to the restriction, lashing about and hampering my movement even more.

    All my other faculties are working perfectly; my brain as clear as ever. I feel sudden sparks of electricity marking the onset of innovative ideas. Since I can’t face the ridicule of colleagues and travelling is impossible, my appendage being too dangerous for myself and others, I’m forced to work from home. My wife has left me. Who can blame her?

    As the situation shows no sign of resolving itself and my excuses for refusing work assignments must be causing suspicion, the only option left open to me is amputation.

    I’ve paid for a private consultation in my own home, pleading immobility. It’s booked for eleven o’clock this morning. There’s the bell, now. Keep your fingers crossed. This is my last hope of regaining normality and my life.

  11. A bony fist thumped down on the desk, juddering coffee from its cup and scattering the biscuits.
    ‘Damn. Damn. Damn.’
    The clerk scuttled out of the shadows. ‘What’s the matter, boss? What’s happened?’
    Taking care not to tread on his employer’s cloak (that was a no no), he stepped up to the desk and peered at the screen. Paramedics could be seen carrying a stretcher along a railway line towards an ambulance. The patient’s face was not covered.
    ‘Is that the train job? Oh, fuck it! I worked really hard on that dream project.’ His eyes opened with fear as his employer turned towards him. ‘You’re not mad at me, boss, are you?’
    ‘No, lad,’ A bony hand patted his shoulder. ‘It wasn’t your fault. Look.’ He tapped the screen.
    The clerk looked again, and spotted something beside the line. ‘Is that what I think it is? Bloody fly-tippers. D’you want me to sort them?’
    ‘No. We’ve got to get on. Don’t worry, we’ll get her in the end.’ His employer’s smile was all teeth. ‘Okay, where’s the schedule? Who’s next?’

    Cerys opened her eyes. Her mother was there, leaning over her.
    ‘Oh, Cerys, love. Thank God you’re awake. How do you feel?’
    Cerys whispered, ‘everything hurts.’
    ‘Oh, darling.’
    She felt the backs of her mother’s fingers on her cheek. ‘What happened to me?’
    ‘You fell out of the train. At fifty miles an hour.’
    Cerys tried to shake her head, but the lead weight inside banged against her skull with painful ferocity. ‘I didn’t fall,’ she croaked.
    ‘You did fall, love, but you landed on a mattress that someone had dumped beside the track. They said if you’d fallen straight on to the ground... I’m so grateful you’re alive. You’re my very clever girl. You cheated Death today.’


  12. In the dimness of the carriage, a man is reading. You cannot see his face as his collar is pulled high. He seems engrossed. You would like to know what the book is.

    In the dimness of the carriage, a man is engrossed in his reading. He turns the pages with a nervous energy. You would like to know his face, but it is turned slightly to the window and his collar is pulled high.

    In the dimness of the carriage, a man turns the pages of a book with nervous energy, engrossed. You would like to know his face, but its reflection is distorted slightly, with only blackness for eyes. You pull your collar high and turn towards the window, watching the dark shapes rushing past.

    In the darkness of the carriage, a nervous man with only blackness for eyes nervously tears the pages from a book. You pull your collar high and turn towards the window, but you cannot see your face in the reflection. The dark shapes rushing past are dim, distorted and misshapen, but you watch them, engrossed and afraid. You would like to reach out, but cannot.

    In the darkness of the carriage, you nervously tear the pages from a book but do not know why. You pull your collar high and turn towards the window, but the only face you see in the reflection is not your own. It is dim, distorted and misshapen, with only blackness for eyes and a mouth twisted in fear. The dark shapes rushing past turn from branches to fingers, which lunge towards you and scratch at the glass, trying to grab you as you reach out, engrossed and afraid.

    In the darkness of the carriage, a frightened man turns from torn pages, but you cannot read his face.

  13. Dreams are funny things. You go to bed and snuggle under your doona and think you’re at peace with the world. Before you know it you’re walking down High Street, right foot on the kerb, left in the gutter. Wait a minute. It’s not you at all. This is my dream.

    Men and women dressed in warm coats and boots, their faces muffled in scarves and caps, walked past me, staring and pointing. I looked around and saw they meant me. No one said a word. The foot in the gutter kept getting stuck in a shiny brown mass. I grabbed hold of my knee and yanked the foot up. Then I saw my reflection in a shop window. I was naked except for goose pimples all over my body and toffee enclosing my left foot like a boot.

    I suppose it was the toffee that did it. I’d been melting butter and dribbling in sugar, spinning it around in a frying pan. It wasn’t the toffee I was after; it was a smell I’d been trying to retrieve. I wanted to breathe in that carefree time of marshmallows and apples. Go back to when people’s stares didn’t matter. When nobody fired sticks and stones. When nobody cared if I played in the gutter. All that came later, when I grew up.

    In my dream, the goose pimples felt like a cloak. I wasn’t cold and I wasn’t scared. The only thing strange was that sticky toffee.

    When I woke up my body felt warm, but my ankles was icy. I pulled back the doona and rubbed my feet. My sheet was speckled with crumbles of toffee. I sighed and reached for the tweezers that I keep on my night table and picked out the slivers from between my toes.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. The day centre minibus driver sat glumly at the wheel. I noticed she had short hair, like me. And was quite attractive. That was on Mum’s first day. Before long my own appearance had improved: for the morning ceremony of waving goodbye to Mum, I wore jeans and a nice top, eye make-up. Smiling and cheerful, the driver let down the folding steps. “Morning, Patience!” She helped Mum to board the minibus and fastened her seatbelt. I waved at Mum, she waved, the other old ladies waved, the driver waved. Off they went. Back they came at 3.30. Peep peep peep – the bus reversing into Mum’s road, my heart lifting. Mum ate big cooked lunches, she joined in the games (Reminiscences, Proverbs) and the singalongs. It’s a long long way to Tipperary. Oh kiss me goodnight, Sergeant Major. Two lovely black eyes.

    Then it all went wrong. The day centre in dispute over Hounslow’s cost-cutting measures. A new minibus driver, male, unfriendly. Mum returning in strange outfits; the driver silently handing me bags of wet skirts and knickers. Another old lady got off ahead of Mum and tried to fight her way into the house. Mum’s link worker wrote in the report book, “Patience hit another client”. A meeting was held: Mum banned from attending the centre. The GP prescribed Seroquel for Mum, anti-depressants for me.

    Mum snored that night; I lay awake worrying. Then, peep peep peep. The dark lightened. “I thought you’d never come back...” The dream driver’s warm hand held mine, her kind glance reassured me. My own eyes blurred with tears so I couldn’t see Mum, but I knew she was somewhere on the bus, seatbelt fastened. And that wherever it was going, she’d be safe and happy. I stood outside the front door, waving goodbye.

  16. Personally I blame Shakespeare, those plays within plays extending into dreams like Babushka dolls.

    The wind knocked out of me, lungs are crepes as I come to. Am I awake? It seems too much of a paradox to deal so early, especially when my bones ache like this. I shift my head; shoulder muscles pop. Is that possible? I shift hips, my back releases. Maybe if I just drowse drift, when I next know myself, everything will be clear.

    But what if I did fall and have a concussion? Isn’t that dangerous to sleep? I have to rely on myself to drag myself off of this hard surface. I’m dreaming, yes. Must be.

    How many times do I get out of bed some mornings, dull, feet artic-cold, limbs without compasses, untangling at length from sheets, gather Nike socks, choose the clean pair of jeans, deliberate over which shirt, carry them into the bathroom, and shower,... just to wake up sitting at the side of the bed the sunshine trying to slice thru my woozy eyes,... just to wake up again lying wrapped around warm fuzzy man, disoriented at who this could be beside me, feel the brush of chest hair on my inner wrists, wrap my arms around the shape of a stomach, catch his treasure trail tickle between thumb and pointer, tug and there’s no groan, decide it is someone I never slept beside, from decades ago, oh-ho, he’s the wrong age, continuity error of dream, a way to discern real,… wake alone with laughter at nonsense.

    If I have slept the whole night, why am I so tired? If I didn’t land in a ditch, then what’s that scratch at my neck and how did the dry grasses get caught in my hair? What is this train ticket?

    Pearl pagehalffull @ yahoo. com

  17. I wrapped my coat even tighter, I couldn’t stop shivering, and finally the door opened. You came out in your bikini. I blinked. I pinched myself. But the cold was too real for me to be dreaming. You tiptoed over the frost-painted grass, pirouetting as you stopped in front of me. I peered out between folds of hat and scarf.

    ‘What are you doing?’ I asked.
    ‘I finally did it, and I’m going to show the world’ you said. I must have looked confused.
    ‘I’m down to eight stone’ you said. ‘See!’
    And you pirouetted again. I ducked beneath your spinning arms.
    ‘You’ll freeze like that’ I told you but you didn’t listen.
    ‘I want everyone to see’ you said, and floated off down the street.
    I trudged behind you, weighed down by two jumpers, a fleece, hat, scarf and gloves. Two teenage lads stopped and stared as you danced past, I swear that was drool freezing on their faces. A small child was being dragged to school by a worn out mum.
    ‘Why’s that lady not wearing any clothes?’ He asked loudly. She shushed him, but I could see admiration in the sidelong glance she threw you.

    An old man was so distracted by you that he rode his bike into a lamppost. Three girls in school uniform pointed and giggled, then looked down at their own puppy-fat covered bodies and stood straighter. And at the pelican crossing, long after the green man stopped flashing, the traffic stood still, watching you.

    Pulling my hat over my freezing ears I watched you, waited for your teeth to start chattering, and blueness to spread over your skin. But you were warmly pink as you danced your way down the street, basking in the stares from everyone.

    I followed, heavy with winter.

  18. 'Now please don't be nervous, young lady, I'm simply placing my hands, palms downwards, gently on your abdomen area. It helps with the process.'

    I am extremely nervous. Perhaps I shouldn't be. He's the best psychiatrist in Harley Street - apparently. Everything about his persona is the best, from his expensive suit to his hand-crafted Italian shoes. As I squirm and wriggle on his couch, I can't help wondering what HE dreams about. Are they one-offs? Nightmares? Recurring? Recurring nightmares? Like mine. Who analyses HIS thoughts?

    He breaks into mine to say in a syrupy voice 'I've explained the process - twice - but I'm happy to go over it again.' He tosses me his professional smile. That's probably put £50 on the bill. I wince.

    'Now, now, nothing to be afraid of. You want to be free to get on with your life, don't you?'

    My face puckers. He continues with his well-oiled monologue. 'When I ask you a question, please answer truthfully, it helps with the ...'

    ... 'process' I interrupt without a trace of irony.

    I'm then assaulted by a barrage of questions.

    Did you ever have an unpleasant encounter with trains as a child?

    Did you ever have an unpleasant encounter IN trains as a child?

    What does fire and ice conjure up in your mind right now?

    If eyes are the windows of our souls, what, do you believe, are our hands?

    Do you suffer from vertigo?

    I'm now drenched in sweat. He continues.

    Who is your favourite member of your family?

    And your least?

    And your least? he repeats.

    In a sotto voce he asks his final question. 'Your Uncle Ted, your least favourite, whose hobby I understand was mountain climbing and who worked all his life on the railways - did he have large hands?'

    I black out.

  19. You know in a dream, when you fall, and wake up with a twitch. Only I didn't wake up, I was falling for years. Images of your face swirled about me, whirled and span. I could see people looking over me, lights moving, or me moving, there was no longer any difference. I'm in love. It was a simple statement of fact. I reached out, and there you were.

    Afterwards, we sat in the station coffee shop, one of those fancy efforts, chrome and paper cups, you looked across at me and I realised I didn't know you. I loved you and had missed our life together. You looked at me, concerned, oblivious to my inner life. My head reeled again and you, seeing me wilt reached across and touched the back of my hand.

    Later, after all this head over heels nonsense had finished, it would be that small touch that I remember. That was the essence of this day, the day I fell in love with you. I remember your smile, so deep I could fall in it, I remember your eyes, bluest blue, with such a depth that they could be the hold world. But the essence of love was that touch, a touch that stirred my heart to an intensity I didn't believe could exist.

    I'm a firm believer in dreams, this was a time when my dream came true. He stood up suddenly, looking at his watch.

    “I'm sorry, I'm late, I have to go.”

    And that was it, the end of the first real love affair of my life, I can't describe the feelings of loss as I sat waiting for the noise to subside in my head, watching that once in a lifetime true love walk away. Mind you the Waiter looks nice.

    Jim Barron

  20. We walked hand in hand forever, it seemed. If the path grew narrow, one of us would instinctively take the lead, reaching behind to keep hold of the other.

    It’s not that we were clingy. No indeed. We’d read the books. Codependent No More. The Language of Letting Go. We didn’t *need* each other, we simply embraced our mutual wants and desires, feeding off each other’s nurturing companionship

    We could let go any time we wanted.

    One summer’s day, the path split. The proverbial fork in the road. Two prongs, two directions, two choices lie in wait. The paths were clearly marked: one led to the sea, one to the mountains.

    “I want us to climb,” he said. “to find what vistas await us.”

    “Let’s go to the coast,” said I, “and soak in the nourishing sea.”

    “The air will be so fresh, we’ll see everything clearly from the top. We’ll know which way to go.”

    “As long as we’re together, we’ll head the right direction, and the water will be luxurious.”

    For days we sat at this impasse, examining the first “why” of our journey.

    And, sadly, we realized we wanted two different things. He longed to be in the air, closer to the stars and the moon. I craved the balance of earth and sea … the place where I could hear my soul.

    It was time to untangle. We never realized how intricately bound we had become.

    “We must trust and let go,” he whispered.

    We kissed goodbye, our lips holding tight while our webbed fingers slowly, tenderly slipped apart.

    Every now and again, I stare up at the rocky mountain above, sitting in my sandy sanctuary, basking in the warm salt air.

    I search for the dot of his crimson jacket, and pray for an avalanche.

    bob [at] bobzyeruncle [dot] com

  21. “NO!” Loud and defiant. “NO it’s NOT going to happen. Get out. GET OUT!” She sits up in bed, more angry then scared.
    “Honey, are you ok?”
    “I’m fine. I’m going for a run.” She looks at the clock 5:30 its still black as pitch but she gets out of bed and pulls on her grey sweats. She stops at the refrigerator and gulps some orange juice from the carton. She double knots her shoes and slips out of the front door.
    She heads north walking at first to stretch and warm up her legs. Focusing, refocusing on pleasant things. It’s not too long before she hears his footsteps behind her. She begins to pick up the pace. “I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid.” She murmurs to herself over and over.
    East on 17th, through the park. His footsteps are louder. “I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid.” She says louder through her ragged breath. Then just to prove her point she takes a turn into the cemetery. She runs down the central path. She can feel him gaining ground. “I am NOT afraid!” Louder this time.
    The sky has lightened considerably but the grey will remain in the day. She heads out the back gate, two short blocks and a left and she’s home. She comes in to the smell of coffee.
    “You ok?”
    “Yea I’m good. I’m going to take a shower. My appointment’s at 8:30.”
    “Call me.”
    “I will.” She takes her shower and gets herself ready. Makes herself a cup of coffee. She feels him waiting for her. “I am not afraid. It is not going to happen.”
    40 minutes later she is in the doctor’s office. “Hello Alicia, I’ve got great news. There is no sign of the cancer’s return. That should ease your fears.”

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. I sometimes dream of you.

    I dream we are walking on the wind-battered Cornish cliffs, our collars raised against the cold as you fret about spots of rain falling on your suede jacket. The two of us against the world.

    In another dream we dig our toes into the cool wet sand and wash them off in the surf, before lying in the sun, my head resting on your bare chest. The electric tingle of my flesh against yours wakes me with a smile.

    You never were a romantic, but in my dreams I read again the love letter you sent on my birthday, quoting song lyrics to express your hidden feelings. The next morning I need to replay that old classic tune as, cradling in my palm the tiny earrings you gave me, I remember again.

    I loved you so much.
    But now you give me nightmares too.

    I sleep restlessly, thinking of the last letter just months after that special birthday. The letter you signed off with ‘best wishes’. Not with love, nor with kisses. One which could have been written to anybody yet wasn’t quite the end for us.

    I dream painfully of the long journey home, of forlornly hoping I had been mistaken. You met me at the station. The picture of your steely face will never leave me, nor will the memory of the endless tears which followed.

    I wake in a sweat, remembering a wedding the next summer where you ignored me, to my agonised incomprehension. After all, you had already told me you were not ready to settle down when you left me. Later I discovered the truth. She hadn’t been invited, to protect me. You married her not long afterwards.

    It really doesn’t matter now.
    But still I dream of you.

  25. The sound of the train on the track was deafening as it thundered down the line towards them.

    ‘But, we’re not allowed to leave, we’re not allowed to get on the train’. Betty looked like a little girl again in her distress. She screwed up a handkerchief in her fingers and played with that scarf she always wears to hide the marks on her neck.

    But Alice had a new light in her eyes. The stream of air from the train tore her hair from its fastenings and as it tumbled on her shoulders she looked young again; her mouth half open with delight.

    ‘We’ve got to get on!’ Car coaxed them both.

    Alice stepped forward. She held her hand out to Betty and smiled. Car was already in the carriage with the door open. Betty couldn’t resist both of them - and tripped up the step with a giggle.

    ‘But what will happen now?’ Betty asked. She was white and anxious again. Strange that she should be so nervous really – after all, the worst has already happened …

    Car reached up and pulled a discarded book down from the luggage rack. As they saw what it was, they all turned grey with fear – last time they saw an ABC guide … well, there’s no need to go into that surely?

    I’m glad the three of them are having a day out, a bit of excitement. They don’t know the train is going nowhere. Well, there’s nowhere for it to go is there?

    Here, everyone is on the same train. Destined to go round the same track for ever. There’s no reason why these three should be any different.

    Does that sound cruel? Well, maybe I am cruel. But I created them, I can do what I like with them.

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. I paddle through my dreams, a thin sea of silver, trying to catch the moments I forgot.

    All The Things You Forget

    All the things you forget
    could pack a picnic:
    foil wrapped parcels and
    plastic ice blocks hidden
    in a wicker shell. We spread
    a rug over the blue petals and
    nibble at memories cut into triangles.

    Two lovers walk beside the river.
    He plucks from the bank
    a flower and
    “Forget me not,” he calls as
    the bubbles draw him under.
    She catches the petals.

    All the things you forget
    could draw me a map back home,
    folded and unfolded: used.
    All the things you forget
    could fill the frames of a film, turn the
    pages of a book, a crumpled tapestry of
    stories: images for other people to remember.

    A young child on his mother’s lap
    wishes the future could see them.
    There are no cameras yet so
    he touches her eyes,
    waves his hand across the ground.
    She watches as the flowers appear:
    a blue carpet of forget-me-nots.

    All the things you forget
    could teach a class, stand in front
    of a white board and deliver
    sensible advice to people
    who one day will be there, do that
    and get the T-shirt you told them
    wouldn’t do them any good.

    On the street, a white handkerchief,
    a knot tied around something that
    someone thought was
    important enough to remember.
    It lies now like a broken wing.
    Someone has forgotten
    to do something.

    All the things you forget could
    feed a computer, a little shot of
    something to unclog the C drive.
    All the things you forget could
    could fill a scrap book: a goldmine
    for children of children
    to frame, to polish, to parade…

    All these things you say, I remember.

    Jenny Adamthwaite

  29. I’m under the train – thank God it’s stopped! That was one Hell of a fall. My face is grazed and covered in blood. He didn’t give me the chance of the ‘Mind the Gap’ warning.
    Why did he push me? Why does he want me so much? I thought I was one of God’s children, not Satan’s. And now the Grim Reaper has finally got me. But no-one else seems to notice. They’re all rushing past obliviously.
    In my mind, I’m trying to make light of the situation – thinking of the huge Grim Reaper standing behind the pilot in the spoof ‘Airplane’ movie. I always cry at weddings and laugh at funerals – my opposite emotion comes out.
    I’m in a pretty tight situation here though. Suddenly, he lifts me up and carries me to Highgate cemetery. The hole is already dug but I’m still alive. How is it that it’s only him who can see me and me that can see him?
    My box is ready. He lays me in it and I put up a hell of a fight but all in vain.
    I am six feet under and tonight I will start scratching at the underside of my coffin lid until my nails bleed. I know that’s one part of me that will keep growing though and my hair. I’m going to end up as one tangled mess unless anyone hears my scrapes.
    Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
    Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!
    Hoorah! A dog has heard me.
    Surely his master must be alerted.
    ‘Rex, Rex, come here, boy. What is it?’ I hear a man ask.
    ‘Christ! This one’s been recently dug. It wasn’t here yesterday. Stay there, boy. I won’t be long. I’ll have to fetch help.’
    ‘Thank God!’ All’s well that ends well – never truer words.

  30. That energy you feel, that would be the attraction of opposites. Ice, fire. Dark, light. Kind, cruel. Natural, really: yin seeks yang, masculine looks for feminine, hard craves soft. It's all about balance, seeking in others what we lack in ourselves, looking for our other half.

    So a shy woman and an extrovert man, on that quest, fall in love. And do they live happily ever after? Not likely – there are some good times, for sure, but in between they have row after row about how he doesn't value spending time at home with her, and why is she so aloof when they're with his friends, and when is he going to realise that she doesn't want to host a New Year’s party in their house, and anyway what made her think she was interesting enough for him?

    As they knock against each other over a few months, a little of the shy woman’s cautiousness rubs off on the extrovert man, and a soupçon of his confidence is transmitted to her. Just enough confidence so that one night, after a glass of wine and in the middle of yet another row, she tells him to get the hell out of her face. Their relationship wobbles like a granny on a tightrope. Will his self-assurance enable him to see the fear beneath her feisty words, and to reach out a hand? If he does, will she mistake stubbornness for confidence and refuse to take it? Can they regain their balance?

    We’ll never know, but we do know this: it’s hard for opposites to stay together and survive. Fire melts ice; light banishes dark; sleep gives way to waking. Opposites can only co-exist if there is plenty of distance between them. It isn’t meeting and merging that keeps them safe, it’s separation.

  31. He was a tall, well-built and a good Samaritan like with a helping hand,
    a sort of suave nature embedded in his texture. I still see no reason, why this
    man was being sent to the gallows, the hang man alert, gave him a black cloak and his face veiled with a hood before the calamity. I simply cannot
    digest this man looking so innocent, helpless, being cool, and no excitement
    so far. Standing far away from the scene of execution my blood congealed
    and me absolutely shattered for there is some in explicable thread of radiant
    energy, a positive vibration, common current running between us. I heave a
    Sigh of desperate anguish, trying to reach out my hand but in vain. I ruminated,
    That despite the efficient jury , the innocent ones are caught in the tricky web, punished, where is the technical lacuna? The hang man finished his job mechanically, years together he has been doing this ruthless job, his heart
    hardened, same trauma of injustice must have been going on for years
    together, somewhere some truth is suppressed, some vital evidence in
    support of him is being hidden .

    I screamed and got up, “thank God! It is only a dream”. I look through
    my window, my frilled curtains are removed,ouside it was snowy, a gaze
    beyond the hills, beyond the winding paths of mountains, very cold air
    buffet my ghost ridden face.
    After cook and dish wash was done I rushed to my work spot, again cold
    day by train, wherever I looked around ,it was the same innocent, guilt free,
    haunting me, I have heard my grandmother telling me, heavens ,perhaps
    Duplicate creations i was shivering, along with the jolt of the train, if the
    Dream man follows.

  32. My Step-Grandmother had lifelong ‘visitations.’ Most frequently her ‘Black-Caped Man’ or ‘Him’ as he was simply known. He’d first appeared to her at five years old, as she fed sheets into her mother’s mangle – a dapper silhouette, with short, dark cloak, top-hat and silver-handled cane. ‘My grandfather,’ her mother had exclaimed when asked who he might be.

    My Step-Grandmother was down-to-earth about it, as was her son, my ‘Uncle’ John who had visitations too. No, she wasn’t ever frightened and he didn’t turn her cold. But then, she’d never seen him properly. He was really just a shadow, a benign impression in the corner of her eye. He would visit her at intervals three times foretelling the demise of some poor relative: ‘Like Scrooge in Christmas Carol,’ her daughter, who’d been denied this family trait, would scoff.

    There’d been other visitations too; the time her ‘Cousin Mary’ lingered at the bottom of her bed one Advent Sunday night to divulge where she’d locate her misplaced Christmas savings, the stash she’d turned the whole house upside down to find. Behind the kitchen- boiler pipe she’d been reliably informed.

    I lived in terror as a little girl whenever she would come to stay. Please don’t let him come to our house. Please just make him stay away, screwing my eyes tight shut and stuffing fingers in my ears under the bedclothes throughout every restless night.

    She died some years ago, alone. I like to think that he was with her then, that she might have caught the twinkle in his clear blue eyes, the kindly smile playing on his lips beneath his waxed moustache. I want to catch it too, but I have closed my mind up far too well, sleeping dreamlessly and undisturbed safe in the confines of my narrow room.

  33. You know that dream when you’re reaching out for something, and you’re desperate to get hold of it, but every time you think you’re going to be able to grab it it slips out of reach again? The second worst dream – and second commonest, I’d say – after being at an important event with no clothes on below the waist. Or perhaps equal second with having to take an exam you’ve completely forgotten about and haven’t prepared for.

    Anyway, I had that dream last night, except in reverse. I was the thing someone was trying to grab on to, and the person reaching out to me was this woman I’ve seen a few times on the train. Not regularly or anything, but often enough to recognise her when she popped up in my dream.

    It was a bit disturbing, to be honest, because I’ve hardly even noticed her, not consciously anyway, and she’s the last person I’d have expected to dream about. But there she was, eyes all wide and beseeching, reaching out her arm as if only I could save her. You’d hope that in that situation you’d find some chivalrous instinct and hold out your hand to rescue the damsel in distress, but I just did my best to ignore her. I was asleep, of course, but even so I felt pretty sheepish when I woke up.

    The even weirder thing was that when I stepped onto the platform this morning there she was, and she turned away the moment she saw me, as if she’d actually been there in the dream. And it turned out she was ill, or something, because when we arrived she opened the carriage door and then fainted. At my feet, as it happened. I’m not into dreams, but that must tell you something.

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. ‘Cut and end’


    ‘Let me pause here. As you can see from this short-film documentary directed by a producer friend, this particular scene from the “A Day in the Life of” series was highly jinxed from the start. He told me that shooting took 3 days instead of 1, that the cast couldn’t get their act together even after 13 attempts, that each time the girl attempted her fall over the edge of the platform, the cameraman’s hands would stiffen and they’d loosen their grip on the camera itself, so filming had to stop and the crew had to disengage themselves for a short while whilst my friend, D Posner, an experienced producer went to inspect the scene to see what was causing the hold up. As nothing came to light immediately and nothing was medically wrong with the cameraman, they eventually decided to shoot this particular scene from a distance with powerful zoom-in lenses. Still, the very same thing happened again and still they couldn’t understand why even after the 23rd attempt that particular scene couldn’t be shot. Everything came to a standstill each time the scene was re-enacted and it was as if time stood still at each attempt, to the point where they decided finally to shoot the scene at a different train station from the one where the original accident happened exactly 333 days ago on the 3rd March 2003.

    I’m not entirely convinced, normally by the paranormal, class, but there is something peculiar about this incident as there have been claims by a lot of commuters that at the point where the girl had fallen onto the tracks, a few deaths have taken place: 2 accidental and 3 suicides. According to reports, “All five had put out their hands before falling or jumping” ’.


  36. It was so cold in the carriage and I wanted more than anything to be beside the blaze of a good wood fire. Instead, at Mother’s insistence, I was made to attend a dance for the sole purpose of finding a suitable husband. My only consolation was that you might be there. That would have dispelled the feeling of utter despondency with which I set out.

    Not of course that you make much of a dancer. In fact I’ve rarely had such a poor partner. Of course, if you concentrated on the steps and the music rather than on wooing me, you’d have some hope of improving, although I fear you’ll never be a natural. I’ve noticed your toes turn in slightly as your walk – it’s sweet and charming, and rather like a young boy.

    I was one of the last to arrive at Kimberley Hall, and the ballroom was buzzing by the time I entered. It took me a while to establish for certain that your were not present. Mary Paterson eventually informed me that you were out of town just now, visiting relations in the country. If only I could have gone with you and got away from all this nonsense.

    The evening passed in a tedious fashion. Mr Bottomly made me dance with him three times. That in itself wouldn’t have been so bad, for at least he has some conversation, had it not been for the fact that he’s a worse dancer than even you, and he kept treading on my toes at every turn.

    Oh, do hurry back and put an end to my boredom. I really cannot bear it any longer. I long to go riding in a carriage with you, for people to see us together and to know we are in love.

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. In the winter it was always as cold as the Arctic on the train. Today it was positively icy - you could see your breathe in the air, creating patterns. I’d seen the other two in my carriage before several times - a man and a woman, regular commuters. He always avoided eye contact, but she was always looking, almost as if soliciting an acknowledgement from him, which never came.

    Today’s journey was much like any other. We’d almost reached the station where she would usually alight. This morning she looked skittish, as if anticipating something unusual happening, almost wishing it would. She looked at him more frequently today, eventually catching his eye with her intense stare.

    It all happened at once - she reached for the door handle suddenly, sweeping open the door before the train had reached the platform. In a flash, he was up - grabbing for the back of her overcoat. She reacted as if galvanised by an electric cattle prod! As he struggled to wrench her backwards, she pulled like they were polar opposites - launching herself forward as if he had sought to extinguish her life, rather than preserve it.

    The last I saw was a fluttering red, woollen scarf that snaked behind her tumbling body, like the trail of a falling star, and the look of anguish and defeat on his face as he crumpled on the carriage floor.

    The reporters said it was an accident, but no one who was there would have doubted her intention. It was as if she was pre-determined to behave in the way she did, having finally solicited his response. I sometimes wonder if he dreams of her every night in the way I do - that final glimpse of her face, almost serene …and then nothing.

  39. When asked about it later, I couldn’t quite remember when I had seen the picture. It was old; the white edges were brown with age, the sepia tones soft and comforting. All I remember are his eyes. Even in a picture with no colour, I could tell his eyes were a strong, piercing blue.

    When I first saw him, I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked, speechless. The picture had to be at least fifty years old but he hadn’t aged a day. He was standing across the street from my house, a black coat billowing around him.

    But it was the eyes I saw first. I paused in the act of grabbing my morning newspaper and just stared at him. He started across the street when he saw me and I felt a mixture of fear and curiosity.

    When he stood before me, I felt overwhelmed. When he spoke, I felt myself melting despite my wish to remain aloof.

    “Anna…” his voice was like whiskey. “I need you to come with me.”

    “I don’t know who you are.” I said. My voice sounded soft, small compared to his.

    “We don’t have time to talk this through properly.” He held out his hand. “Rest assured your life is in danger and you must come with me now.” He looked behind him. The shadows in the alley across the street seemed to be growing, stretching across the pavement. I could hear noises, like a child crying.

    I know it sounds impossible but it looked like the shadows were stretching…toward me.

    “What’s going on here?” My voice came out louder now. Fright can do that, fear can induce courage.

    “There isn’t time to explain,” he said. “You have to come with me now.” He held out his hand again. “Make your choice.”

    Jamieson Wolf

  40. From Claudia:

    Faruk couldn’t make out anything in the starless night that swept around him like a black cloak. He sensed the narrow path was on the very edge of a steep valley because the wind that whipped about him so that his nightshirt snapped at his bare legs whistled a high, forlorn note. He imagined they were heading up the pass that led to the border but the doubtfulness of this made everything - the blackness, the biting cold, his father’s hurrying form in front of him - seem even more unreal.

    Whenever Faruk stumbled and fell on the loose stones Baba would turn and shout at him, his angry voice being snatched up by the wind and carried off into the night. Faruk would get to his feet and hurry to catch up again. He kept reaching out for Baba’s hand even though he knew Baba would disapprove. One of Baba’s latest complaints in his tirades at Faruk’s mother was that she was turning Faruk into a sissy with all her affection. Embarrassed, Faruk had started pushing her and his sisters away whenever they tried to tickle or cuddle him but tonight he didn’t feel that brave. He scrambled as fast as he could but somehow Baba was always just one step ahead of him and Faruk’s outstretched hand touched only the darkness.

    Baba stopped suddenly. For the third time since he had dragged Faruk from his bed and the two of them had staggered into the dark up the winding mountain path, he reached deep into his overcoat pocket for the flat, silver flask that Faruk knew all his uncles deplored. He drank from it like a man just returned from a wilderness, then threw back his head and roared into the wind, before setting off again into the night.

  41. We’re almost there. Our personal holy grail, the hallowed towers of ‘FINISH’ loom larger with every forward step. 26 miles down, 385 yards to go. We’re going to make it. We’re…

    She’s not with me anymore. Eva, the centre of my universe has disappeared. I look over my shoulder, desperately trying to avoid the humiliation of stumbling. My aching legs are leaden, but we have to finish together. She is 100 yards behind, hobbling, her face a tortured caul of pain. I slow down to near standstill, siding up, looping my arm into hers. “What are you doing?” she groans. Gingerly, we breach the finish line as one. “You came back for me…” she splutters between lungfuls of air. “You came back…”

    Reveries of the previous evenings dream shatter upon the blood curdling wail of the fire alarm. Back in the real world, we must evacuate immediately. The place empties in a fuel of blurred panic. It’s every soul for themselves.

    From outside, we watch in fear and awe. No one takes charge of the situation. Who is holding the emergency register? Where is the evac bag?

    Seething flames overcome our small office building, bludgeoning it to ruins in a convulsion of obliterating hatred. Raging forks of destruction rampage through the defenceless rooms. Windows explode outwards, forcing us to cower beneath a monumental downpour of heat and pulverized glass. Our horror intensifies with each passing second as an invisible fist smites our workplace with its rapidly blackening grip.

    “Where’s Eva?” The horrified whisper behind precedes further panicked chattering amongst the masses.

    “She’s still inside. Oh my God, she’s still inside!”

    Unconditional worship takes control. I ignore the frenzied protests. They can’t stop me. I must return for her once more. We will cross the line together for a second time.


Add Your Own Message Here
If you want to take part - great. All you need to do is add your response to our message here as a comment, but remember it has to be exactly 30 or 300 words, and it needs to be posted before 8am GMT the morning after the original post for each day. Please also remember to add your Name and Email Address to the end of your message, so that we can get in touch if your work is selected.