I don’t remember what I’d said, but it had made him laugh, briefly, before the seriousness we both recognised, settled. His eyes focussed too long on mine, then scanned my mouth. He took a deep breath, exhaling slowly and unsteadily as he moved closer, as he bowed his head down to reach me. I felt the roughness of his thumbpad on my cheeks and our lips brushed; the lightest of touches…
Not likely – boomed my unconsciousness, and gave a good poke in the ribs to ensure I was woken fully. For the hour that remained before my alarm set The Today Programme upon me, I pondered my unconscious and its increasingly unkind behaviour.
Until a few months ago, we’d got along fine. Then one day, the good ladies of the office had a discussion about recurring dreams:
I dream that my hair falls out – said the bold one at the front.
I dream that I’m sitting on the bus and I realise that I’m naked – said the timid one at the back.
I dream – I added from the corner – or rather I used to dream, that something horrible happened, but when I tried to shout out, I had no voice.
That night, I dreamt that I had a hard swelling, right in the hollow where my neck and chest meet. It was leather-brown and ribbed, like the pupa of a large grub, and my fingers worried it and worried it until it fell off into my hand, leaving a gaping hole at the base of my throat.
Bugger, I’ve self-tracheotomised – I thought. I can’t breathe, I’m done for.
I held onto the air in my lungs; the few extra seconds it gave allowed me to acknowledge and accept the finality of death. When my lungs could hold it no longer, I released my breath and instinctively I gasped for air. The air did not seep from the stoma in my throat as I had expected, but instead refilled my lungs: and again, and again. I breathed and I lived on. I cried out in joy. Or at least, I tried to; my cry wheezed silently from the grub-shaped gap.
It was only when I recounted this dream to my ladies that I realised I’d been set up. It can’t have been chance that a random dream just happened to end in a way I’d described hours before. My subconscious must have planned it: planted it. This is contrary to how I thought my brain in general – dreams in particular – work. I had visions of a democratic process – id, ego and super-ego working together in harmony to organise my mindspace and its contents:
Ego: so guys, here’s what I’ve experienced today. Make of it what you will…
Super-ego: OK, that right there. See what you did there? You learnt from a mistake. That’s a great learning strategy, well done.
ID: blah blah strategy blah.
Ego: no, I think Super is right. It might come in useful, we should keep that in the Long Term pile. So, let’s see what’s up next, guys…
ID: oh my! Oh, that’s good, can we keep that? Can we, can we, can we? Oh, can we? Please say we can!
Super-ego: certainly not. You shouldn’t have been looking at that angle – C for chickenshit. File it. Now.
Ego: I’m not sure, Super. It wouldn’t hurt just to poke a bit of that into a dream? Huh?
ID: gwarn Super!
Ego: oh Super, you’re just the best.
Turns out it’s not a democracy but a dictatorship.
I had a dream. I think he may have been Ifan from Information – sweet guy, not normally considered fantasy material (he’s Welsh for a starter) but dreamers can’t be pickers, especially when they’re being bullied by their super-ego.
I wanted to go with this:
But Super, she insisted on this: