You discover that you and your life are actually someone else’s dream. Whose
dream is it? What will you do with this knowledge?

Blerta Berisha

Now we go to sleep

There is a place between slumber and the moment one awakes, a river in which consciousness and subconsciousness meet, where the two streams intertwine and for the shortest of moments, flow together. It’s a strange place, neither dusk nor dawn, neither light nor dark. Whenever I find myself in that place, I feel as if I have escaped existence itself. It’s as if I slipped through the cracks and as if I am beginning to disappear, to dissolve into something I simply cannot comprehend.

The moment I open my eyes that feeling usually vanishes without a trace. When I woke up from a deep sleep, a fortnight ago, it didn’t. It stayed with me for every waking moment of my day and I couldn’t make it disappear. I would be laughing with friends, eating at restaurants, enjoying the sunset or reading a book, but in the end, a gnawing feeling in my gut would never leave me, not even when slumber befell me.

A few months ago, I had begun to notice strange things around me. One night, there wasn’t a single star visible in the night sky and even though my parents are astronomers and could see galaxies from their telescopes, they weren’t shocked or surprised in the least bit. A little confused, yes. But not surprised. They just went to bed that night, without doing their work. Another strange occurence was at school, a few days ago when my teacher called a classmate Benjamin. His name is Thomas. The strange thing and still is, that Thomas answered to the name and everyone now calls him Benjamin. The gnawing feeling in my gut became worse at that instance and I felt as if I’m going mad.

The next day, while I was sitting in class and focusing at the girl across from me, I could have sworn that she had six fingers. It flickered in front of my eyes and when I looked again, there wasn’t anything wrong with her hands. I am slowly being sucked into the realm of madness and I don’t know what I should do about it.

I am reluctant to tell you about the next occurrence, because I and everyone around me are sure that it was a dream. As I was driving my bike down the road, on my way to school, I noticed that I couldn’t slow down, for my brekes weren’t working. I was too fast to stop and…well I crashed into a driving car. The next thing I remember is sitting at the dinner table with my parents. Between those two moments there was nothing, nothing at all. Lately I feel as if I’m being constantly watched and strange occurrences are happening more often. I can’t tell what reality is anymore. Just yesterday I could have sworn there was an earthquake and that I was buried under my roof. Again, nothing. And suddenly I’m on my way to school chatting with my friends. Whenever I mention these things to them or my parents, I can see a slight confusion in their eyes but after a while, they seem to forget—

I am sitting in a bedroom. It is dark, dim and I can only make out a grey matress, grey walls and a grey sky outside, through the window. I am seated in a chair and in front of me, on the grey, old and shabby looking bed, there is a frail little creature, who I now recognize as a small child. It is speaking but I can’t comprehend its words, they seem so far away. Suddenly there is clarity and I can hear and see perfectly. A little girls sits in front of me and looks strangely familiar. ‘I’ve been wanting to meet you again’, she says.

‘I’ve tried so many times but you wouldn’t notice me.’ Here eyes are dark and her thin face is almost as grey as her sheet. She’s dressed in something resembling a uniform, but it’s strangely colourless and looks like rags on a skeleton.

‘Mama, I can finally meet you!’ Silence. I am trying to think. Carefully I say: ‘Why do you think that I am your mother?’ Clearly delusional and with sudden madness in her eyes she excitedly says: ‘Mama, I know it’s you, I have seen pictures and videos and your things!’ Speechless, I can’t say anything. She continues: ‘You live in a beautiful place, on a hill and grandma and grandpa are astronomers and you eat ice cream and laugh and you have boos, read books! She pauses. ‘We aren’t allowed to have those’, she whispers. Slowly, very slowly, I get up and move towards the door.

A raspy, tired sounding voice says: “It’s no use, Mama, no use at all’. ‘I am clearly in a dream’, I tell myself. The old woman on the bed looks at me with sad eyes. ‘You are.’ I look down at my hand. Six fingers.

‘Whose dream is it?’

‘It’s mine’.

‘What am I doing here?’

‘Saying goodbye.’

‘To whom.’

‘I am saying goodbye to you.’

I force myself to look at the old woman who sat at the place where moments ago there had been a child. Laughter escapes my mouth. ‘This must be the strangest dream I’ve ever had!’, I announce, still smiling.

The old woman looks at me sadly. ‘Oh Mama, how I have missed you. All those years, alone and frightened. When the change came, you were already gone. They took everything Mama and the only time we are not being watched, is in our dreams. I found photographs—the rest I imagined. How glad I am. You didn’t have to live through it. They are everywhere. It has been 75 years since I last saw someone wear colour.

I’ve never heard the sound of music during that time.’

tears are dripping down my face, leaving shiny lines on my cheeks. ‘I don’t understand.’

‘I wanted to live like you! Go out with friends, see trees and listen to music! I wanted to read books! There are no such things anymore, no such things…’

A great sadness has befallen me. I can’t comprehend this strange old woman and why she calls me mother.

‘Who am I?’, I ask. The old woman smiles.

‘You are long gone and you once were my mother. You lived in another time, a time full of joy and colour. You were taken from me, but it’s better that way. This world would have broken your heart.’

I look outside, it has become dark. There are no stars.

‘I can only see you in my dreams now’, she says.

Her eyes look familiar and so very like my own. Suddenly, in the very back of my head, I hear muffled voices, explosions and a little girls voice screaming, No! Stay! Don’t go, Mama, please!’ crying, laughter, a little heart beating against mine.

‘Could you sing one last time for me, mama?’

‘Will I disappear with you?’

‘Yes.’

I sing my daughter a lullaby and as I hold her in my arms, she suddenly feels very light and peaceful.

‘What happens now, Mama?’, asks the little girl.

‘Now we go to sleep.’

 

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