Kaoru Sato's dreams

I remember seeing Akira Kurosawa's Dreams a few years back and thinking what a senile mess it seemed, despite some incredible imagery. Dreams are incomprehensible except to the dreamer because they lack a context. The great surrealist artists, writers and film-makers manage to grab fleeting meaning from them and turn them into works that transcend their gibberish origins by recontextualising them in line with the concerns of their body of work.

So, I found a folder called "dreams" on my archive hard drive recently. I have as you know, always had trouble sleeping and often wake up at night having had vivid dreams. I went through a phase of writing them down in the 90s as a basis for more finished pieces of writing. This period is when this selection originated. There are many film references here - I was an aspiring film maker at the time.

Like I said, they are raw and probably gibberish and I'm not sure you'll gain anything from reading them, but I like some of the writing here. It's compact and sparse, and I found some of it funny, reading them back all these years later

3rd February, 5:45am

I'm in a messy, big flat (more like a loft in NY or something) and the stereo's playing jazz softly. Downstairs I can hear a party. It's dawn still and the city's as quiet as it could be. I stand at the open window smelling the aftermath of a night of storm. A flatmate joins me and we sit to talking and decide to go to Spain. He wants to sleep with me and I know the holiday's a pretext. But I say OK, and he's talking about getting the bus to the tube then going to the airport and leaving straight away.

I say OK and start packing my clothes and swimwear and jewelry and make-up, and I'm just looking forward to lounging by the edge of the pool drinking cocktails. Then I realise we haven't even booked a flight, and I say never mind, half-packed, I'm going shopping anyway, I'll go to the travel agent on the way home. I grab a quilted Chanel handbag, and pull on a pair of black tights with white polka dots and a short black dress, realising I'm a bit overdressed for a supermarket expedition.

I go downstairs past the flat where the party's happening, and it's really loud, then this Jewish doctor with crazy hair comes out and tells me to be quiet, I'm making a racket, and I laugh but he doesn't find this funny. It's still like some New York brownstone, but as I step out, a weird French feel is stepped up as it's now late afternoon, in the south of France.

And I'm driving my car down some dusty road following another car. Now it's like some French thriller, and the setting's just like the area in 'L'Ete Meutrier', though I'm not Isabelle Adjani. I think I am French though, and I'm still dressed in the black mini dress and tights, black pumps, with my brown hair piled up like I've just come back from a party.

The car I'm following stops outside a dusty courthouse next to a large white building like a crypt, though I get a strange feeling that it's probably a library. This bloke gets out and he's dressed like a 40's gangster. He inches along the wall of the courthouse like he expects to have someone shoot at him. As he turns the corner, I get out of my car, taking off my heels and earrings as they make too much noise. It's now sunset and the shadows are getting longer, though it's still sweltering and the sweat pricks the bridge of my nose.

He goes to the library and flings the door open. I get there and look over his shoulder. Inside, it's like some cornucopia full of ancient Egyptian relics. It's a big echoing hall on two storeys, the second storey being a balcony running all the way round, on which I can see shelves of ancient books. At the top is a skylight, and the shafts of early evening sun cut the dusty air. In the middle is a man in a white linen suit and glasses, looking bedraggled, staring up at a couple of brightly coloured and large owls or birds of prey that he's just released.

The guy I followed is shouting at him: "Why did you release the birds!?"

The guy in the glasses turns and cor, he's really good looking, and he explains quietly and succinctly, "Abraham, I couldn't let you just kill those beautiful creatures and sell them off just so you could get your hands on the sword. I'm sorry, but this was the only thing I could do." The birds roost in the upper storeys preening each other. Now they look like giant chickens. Or turkeys. Then they fly out of the open skylight. We're all watching. Abraham sighs. His shoulders drop.

"Damn it Daryl," he says, "don't you know the prestige having the ancient sword would have given us? We have trouble enough getting the funding as it is."

D: "I couldn't let you do it Abraham. Not to the birds. Now they're free."

Suddenly I realise I've strayed into movie-cliche-land and I burst out laughing. Daryl is, of course, the handsome incorruptilble hero, and Abraham the weak man who lost out to money. My laugh rings the expanse of the hall. Daryl turns.

D: "Who is this woman?"

A: "I ... I don't know. Some crazy broad. She just followed me in."

Daryl draws his pistol. "She knows too much." I start saying, "hey, c'mon fellas," and D points the gun at me. I rush out vowing I'll never try and be a smartarse in an old Hollywood film again and hear them laughing behind me.

I get back to the flat as twilight is falling and go upstairs. The party's over in the flat below, but jazz is still playing on our stereo. I get out of the black dress and let my hair down, and think, "Oh, well, that was fun," and start doing the washing up wondering where I left my other earring which seems to have gone missing.

4th August

I'm on a steep, sloping, snowy street. It's bitterly cold, winter, a bunch of us are walking up and down the icy street, dressed in parkas, shouting insults at each other in a drunken state, as though squaring up for a fight. But it's all being filmed and we're only acting. After the take, we break for cigarettes.

Then a cop turns up and asks me what we're up to. I tell him we're making a student film but that he'd better talk to the director. He goes off downslope to see him. I stay at the top of the hill talking to Paul, the camera op. We bitch a bit about how sometimes cops just let you carry on filming, but how this one was clearly a bastard. Now the light's fading, so we have to wrap for the day. We go down the hill to join the others passing the director still arguing with the cop.

I'm now at the bottom of the hill. We wrapped for the night. It's pitch dark and most of the others have gone off to the pub. I'm about to go too, but suddenly I remember I've left a pile of stuff: notebook, script, books, etc., at the top of the hill. I tell Paul I'll see them in the pub and walk back up the hill.

It's completely deserted now, and very cold. The hill seems to have got a lot steeper, then I suddenly see that it rises up at the end almost vertically, towards the concrete lip at the very top where I've got to get to. I take a few steps back and run at it and make it up so that I reach the concrete lip. I hang on and try to heave myself up but I can't. All the strength seems to have leaked out of my body. I feel my fingers start to weaken, and I have to let go and tumble down to the bottom of the icy slope, winding myself.

Now, next to the slope is a kind of grey, vertical radio mast, which goes higher than the top of the slope. There are weak, red lights blinking in the swirling snow at the top. There is also an accessway from near the top of the tower to the top of the slope (now more like a cliff). I decide I have to climb this, though I know how difficult this is from past experience. Wearily, I start up. It's really hard to get any purchase on the slippery surface, and after a while, I realise this is because I'm wearing silicone rubber gloves. By the time I start regretting things, it's too late to turn back, and I can't take the gloves off as I am holding on with both hands, for dear life.

To get to the walkway/gantry, it's necessary to climb to the very top of the tower, climb over, and down the other side towards it. Nearing the top of the tower, however, all the interlinked metalwork grid is loosely articulated, so that every time I grasp something, I have to stop it swinging me aside and out over nothingness. After some struggling with these bits, I just completely run out of strength and stop, realising, looking up, that the top of the tower is a totally smooth overhang, which I'll never be able to clear, and that it's a very long way down, about twice as high as the top of the slope/cliff.

After some thought, I wearily climb back down again. I have another run at the slope, but this time, I don't even reach half way up, let alone the stone lip at the top.

Well, by this time, it's getting light again, though it's a cold, desolate, dead light, and the cliff has become a building, which I've got to reach the top of still. It's some sort of luxury tower block, but in a state of decay, totally deserted and full of rubbish. My parents always went in via the lift, so I call the lift, and step in. On the VDU next to a QWERTY keypad, it says, "ENTER PERSONAL CODE". So that was that. I have no idea what the code is. Behind me in the lift is the porter's desk, but he isn't there. I step out of the lift, angry. I remember when the whole place was totally accessible. As a kid I used to play there and it was fine.

I walk around the side to the service lift. An LED message above it says, "SERVICE LIFT IS COMING ... PLEASE STAND BY ..." But I know that the display always says that but that the lift never comes. The only other way in is through the swimming pool, toward the back of the building, where there are some stairs.

I step over the debris and through the badly hung white double doors which lead to the swimming pool. But the connecting door to the swimming pool is locked. Damn them! I can see the pool glinting beyond. Next to the swimming pool door is the door to the lab complex. That's always locked. I push it. To my surprise, it swings open. I step curiously through and see a dingy corridor, lit at intervals, which stretches off, then bends around the corner.

I wake up.

13th April

I am walking around the ooutside of a big university campus. Block after block, it resembles a desolate Moscow, cold and uninviting. I come to the main college building, which is a huge, grey, brutalist tower, with smaller concrete bunkers around. There are functional signs everywhere, which, as well as pointing to campus locations, also show distant cities. This is puzzling, especially as it says it is only 6 miles to Glasgow and 7 to Edinburgh - but we are in London. Then I realise these signs don't show the actual distances to these places, but the distance to the motorway junction that will take you there.

There is an entrance at the bottom of the tower, but as I go down, the atmosphere becomes so chill and forbidding that I can't go any further. So I decide to make it back to the halls where I know a party is going on.

At the entrance to the halls of residence, I see a lot of S.W.A.T. type people with M-16's pulling up in assault vehicles. They seem to be prepping for some sort of raid or siege. I wonder if I'll be able to get back in, but there is no problem. By now, everyone is in the cinema, watching 'Aliens', so I go to join them. The SWAT crews start to section the building off, and people start to realise there is something wrong, and filter out of the cinema.

Then a squad of SWATs come into the cinema. They tell us there is no danger, and that we can carry on watching, but we should move back away from the screen. Me and Kate move back to the rear of the cinema. There's only a few other people left. They don't tell us why they're here or what's happening. The SWATs take position and aim at the entry doors of the cinema.

Then I realise there is no point in staying in the cinema as the film's end credits are rolling. We leave the auditorium.

Outside, in the corridors, people are milling around in a state of confusion, being shepherded to safety by other soldiers. Kate and I go down a side corridor and into a men's loo. Inside, there is a group of people hiding, who have found out what is going on. The building has been infiltrated by a xenomorph; a group of alien creatures. The troops are in here to try and kill them before they "inseminate" us.

We say, 'oh', and are about to leave when a huge brown form appears behind the frosted glass of the toilet door. One of the aliens is in the corridor outside, yapping and barking (?) savagely. Quickly, I bolt the doors. We can't see it clearly because the glass is frosted, but it appears to be a large St.Bernard. It starts to hurl itself against the door. We retreat behind another pair of doors and wait, tense.

After a time, we hear shouts in the corridor. "There it is!" "Quick, fire! Fire!" A volley of shots follows, and the creature lets out a horrible roar then lies still. We emerge from the toilet. At the door is a small boxer terrier, covered in blood. Quite dead.

"They can change their shape", says the SWAT trooper in charge. "We got another one back at the cinema. There's one left, but he's the dangerous one, the alpha. He could have changed shape into any one of us. Could be you. Could be me." He smiles grimly. I feel that he would quite like it if it were me.

Kate and I decide we've had enough of this and leave. A bunch of troopers and the captain come with us. As we're walking down the corridor to the entrance, we get this intense feeling of being watched, followed. Suddenly, I look up. The alien leader is on a gantry above us, vaguely humanoid, but mottled orange, green, covered in octopoid suckers, staring at us with burning eyes. "Their real shape," I mouth to Kate and she nods. Reflexively, the troops fire. The alien writhes in the hail of bullets, then drops in a pool of orange blood, breathing shallowly. He looks at me, dying. Above, there is a strange shriek. We look up. The alien's mate, similar, but blood red in colour, is looking down in horror, its hands up by the sides of its head, like Munch's "The Scream".

"Looks like we missed one," says the captain, raising his rifle.

"Don't-" I begin to say.

But they fire. The alien falls to join her mate. Both are quickly dispatched with bullets to the head.

Kate and I walk out, feeling sickened, and drive off.

20th January, 6:30am

I'm reading a six panel 'Peanuts' strip with Charlie Brown and Violet.

  1. Sitting on sidewalk. Silence.
  2. ditto.
  3. Violet: Charlie Brown, what really bores you?
  4. C.B.: What really bores me?
  5. They get up, start walking. C.B.: Nothing, everything's interesting...
  6. Still walking C.B.: That's the really boring thing... Nothing's boring...


I look up as the phone rings. and put down my sandwich. My father comes in, from sleep, blinking and says, "Phone. It's Alex."

I go to get the phone in his office, which is a strange art deco bedroom. Start talking to Alex, a person whom I don't know. He says, "I rang to see if you could come to lunch tomorrow. I had to ring now, and I'm going to ring James." I say no, lunch on Sunday's no good. Hear noisy opera music in background of phone. Still no idea who 'Alex' is. He sounds disappointed. He says, "can you hear the music? My mother just put it on. It's fucking shit. Anyway, So when can you make it? Cos I've got to ring James."

"Well, Sunday lunch's out. So's Saturday. Dinner on Sunday's OK." I'm thinking, God this is awful. It must be so obvious I don't wanna see the guy. He says, "no, Sunday night's no good." I say, "Yeah, well, I'm busy all weekend, really, you should have given me more notice. Next weekend's good though."

He says okay and hangs up. I still don't know who he was.

21st January, 2:30am

Some long tube journey that makes no sense with a friend whose identity and gender I don't reall. It's a obviously London but a vastly altered one, as though it's set in the future sometime.

Tube travels on surface, and there's a feeling of dereliction although it's night and I can see only advertising hoardings lit up at intervals. Details of the ads and my conversation are lost. I feel haunted, and in a foreign place. We're going to Upminster.

Standing room only. I think we're dead.

23rd January

Some South London stop on the Northern Line, maybe Clapham Common. Group of us, 6 or 7, horsing around, get on train. Suddenly, we're on a Metro in Madrid or Paris but we're still fucking around being very loud. I think we've been to a funeral cos we're all dressed in black except the girls have bright tights on. Can't recall faces.

One of us is reading a paper and shouts out something and we're in a room, feeling mellow and stoned. Smoke in the air smelling of blow. He reads the newspaper article out and it's about Hammermith council who are making plans to release some mycotoxin into the water supply which will make all residents of the borough immune to radiation in case of nuclear war. I get a mental picture of Hammersmith after a nuclear strike, and it's a long smoking crater of rubble and I think it's sort of funny as being immune to radiation wouldn't be much use in the circumstances.

Suddenly, we're looking down into the crater from the rim, and it's like a festive occasion somehow, with the people all looking and dancing and talking, and a beautiiful red sunset and somehow I know it's the end of the world and we're all happy because nothing matters anymore.

Then suddenly I'm again only thinking about this, and I'm a car mechanic working in a car scrap site in one of those cold, northern US cities like Milwaukee or something. The boss is really pissing me off with his racist slurs about "wetbacks". I'm of Mexican descent but you can't really tell as my mum married a man with Scandinavian roots. I was Born and raised in Toronto then left home and travelled around gaining experience on auto maintenance. So here I am.

The boss is shouting at me, and in front of me is an old Chevy. I'm thinking, "this is fucking beyond a joke", then from a skyscraper somewhere, a shot rings out and I see it as the bullet penetrates my cheek, goes through my mouth and explodes out of my cheek leaving a little cloud of red like a Peckinpah movie.

31st January

I emerge blinking from a cinema after seeing some crap comedy, to meet some friends. Sitting down along a dusty summer road, on the sidewalk, kicking off my trainers, my bare feet on the hot road. To my left is a shady green tunnel of trees. I'm in open sunshine and I get a nostalgic feeling of when I was young. This is no British summer I'm sitting in, but one of dusty suburban Tokyo. I wait for a bus. The sky is blue. I'm waiting for the others to show up. Two friends come up from behind me and sit next to me and we talk.

We're on the bus now, travelling through a hot and dusty place; a foreign place. I turn to talk to my friends they're kissing, so I turn away. Soon the bus stops and we get off.

We're in a Japanese provincial town and I'm thinking how beautiful the temple is with all the trees and everything, but the others (more have rejoined us, and we're like a loutish bunch of tourists with cameras) are mouthing off about how kitsch it all is. A group of us break from the party and walk into the town which is very modern, like maybe Milton Keynes, and we're walking down a pedestrianised precinct feeling hot and foolish and happy, and we stop in front of a big cinema where Peter Weir's Mosquito Coast is showing, and there's a big poster of Harrison Ford wearing glasses. I think, "Oh, but this was released fucking years ago", and I walk away and I'm inside the temple again and it's cool and dark.

Then I'm back in the cool green tunnel of trees, just to the left of where I was sitting, and the hot dusty summer just behind me. And I'm looking down the tunnel waiting for something, maybe a car or some people, but nothing comes, and the tunnel just stretches off into the distance and the darkness, and it's like I'm standing at the edge of a pindrop of silence and tranquility that stretches off forever.

1st May

I'm in some episode of Doctor Who, one with the cricketing Doctor, and I'm his assistant. We're on some giant space station with vaguely Arcadian architecture. The Doctor is trying to ingratiate himself with the boss of the station. There is a mirror of some significance to the station which has recently been sucking people into it never to be seen again. The Doctor wishes to solve the mystery but the people of the station seem to resent my presence because it is some sort of cloistered males-only academic establishment.

Eventually, the boss is convinced. We are dispatched to the mission in a car, accompanied by a young member of the station staff who I'm convinced is going to die. He keeps joking and looking at my legs.

There is a shift. We're now in the countryside. It's deep night and we're here to hunt down an enormous mythical bear that has been terrorising the area. We are armed with mediaeval forks and one breech-loading double-barrelled shotgun. We stop the car by a sharp incline where the countryside slopes off to a distant valley on our left and high, tree-lined hills to our right. The Doc gets out and walks over to the fence. I feel vague unease as I prepare to follow him.

Out of nowhere, an enormous shadowy creature appears, glinting like silver in the moonlight, running completely silently. I think "Oh God Oh God Oh God!", very scared. It knocks into The Doctor who is climing over the fence. He grunts. His hip is broken.

The creature, now a sort of giant spectral tiger-bear, runs on unbelievably quickly and skids to a halt at the bottom of the valley. Even though it's miles away I can still see it clearly in the moon's glow. It's very big and it seems to not follow the rules of perspective, as in the distance, I see it is bigger than a church spire down in the valley, though I know that when it approaches nearer, it will only be the size of a large tiger.

I go out onto the road with the shotgun. Someone I don't recognise says, "it won't do any good". I can't seem to load it because it's made of cardboard. The creature is now bounding noiselessly up the valley towards me.

It leaps over the fence and again overshoots, ending up half-way up the steep hillside. It crisscrosses the road several times. It's playing with us. I try to shoot it but the gun only makes a dry cracking noise. I realise I must drag The Doctor to the car. I put the gun down and start to drag him. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the creature running, this time bounding straight for us. I get him into the car, and shut his door. I run frantically round the other side, and get in. The thing is almost on me. I reach to shut the door. Time slows.

Then it's only a story being told to me. I'm a German university student and I've just been sitting my first year language paper. The guy who's telling me the story is a smarmy git who I hate. He keeps staring at my tits as we talk. We're in a coffee bar I like. It's so hot everyone's in T-shirts and shorts. We sit to eat some Danish pastries.

2nd March

Petrol station on alpine hillside. Snow. Night. Our breath clouds in front of us but no sensation of cold. I'm waiting for an airplane. Bustle of activity, people running in and out. Nearby, the hotel's lights are warm and inviting.

I'm waiting for an aeroplane, with 1st class passengers. I've been given a free flight because I won some competition (business? not sure). Suddenly it comes; it's big, a 747SP. It taxis down the stairs looking ungainly and stupid. It's a Pan Am.

Stewardess comes out. I know her. She tells us that our seats are upstairs. We trail up the stairs (harsh fluorescent light). I'm at the back. I turn and ask the stewardess whether I'm meant to be here. No, she says, I should be travelling economy downstairs. I go down.

Going along plane looking for my seat. All the seats have names on in Japanese with Englsh translation. I can't find mine, though there are plenty of empty seats. A lot of the passengers look sick and feverish.

It's more like a train now; it has many carriages. I go into the next carriage and pass through. Still no sign of my seat. In the next carriage, I spot two skinhead boys beating up a Pakistani kid. I do the skinheads in. One dies (?) but the other doesn't. He suddenly looks much stronger than he used to be, and I suddenly get a strange flash from the future that he's going to kill us. I say 'us' because the stewardess is with me. No one else in carriage. I shout "run!!", and we run off, the skinhead following. We flash through the carriages, then we arrive in the last one which is dark and deserted. I slam the door and try to hold it while the stewardess runs outside.

The skinhead bursts through after a bit of pushing. I follow the stewardess out. It's daytime and it's a bleak looking snowy courtyard with wooden huts all around. No one in sight execpt me and the monster skinhead. I smile and pull out the machine pistol I've been waiting to use but couldn't inside the plane. I fire a short burst into his chest. He dies surprised.

I go to look for the stewardess who's now a nun who's been tailing me. But I find her hanging in one of the huts. She's committed suicide. It's moving and I cry.

1st February, 8:10am

I've just woken and think I've got to go to a seminar and look at the time. It's about eight. So I think, oh, I can afford a bit more sleep (I think that part was real). I drift off.

I wake up again and check the time. It appears on my watch and clocks (I've grown another clock) to be just past one in the afternoon. I think, shit! I've overslept. I look out the window at a massive gothic clocktower with three clock faces, two of which are visible. It says just past one. I'm thinking about this when a beautiful Japanese girl, short with shaved head, black T-shirt, combat trousers, DMs comes in. I've noticed her in college. She's smiling. I get up, realising she's changed the time in the clocks as a hoax. I go over.

She says, (in Japanese), "don't do it too long, will you."

I answer (in Japanese), "Oh, what, playing guitar?" I was strumming quite late into the night.

"Yes." Suddenly, I move to kiss her. She doesn't resist. Our tongues meet. Her pink lipstick comes off on my mouth. Taste of cherries.

"What's your name," I whisper.

"Iyelie" she says, smiling. "I've got to go to college now. See you soon."

"Yeah." She goes. Then I wake, realising it was a dream.

earlier that night

We're in this parking lot just like the one at Disneyland and it's hot and I'm with my parents and my aunt and uncle. We're walking through this parking lot, rows of cars, bumper to bumper, shining just like beetle backs. The park is glinting far in the distance. My aunt doesn't complain; my uncle's there supporting her. I think, how will she ever make it? It's such a distance and she has cancer. She's pale and drawn. We head on.

Well, its never as far as you think when you start out, and soon, we're at the front gate of the park, and there's this huge grinning Mickey Mouse type head on the posts, and the whole place is terribly quiet, like it's closed or something, and I'm really scared but my parents are already going on ahead, dad swinging his new camera. I walk through the gate, and it's like somebody suddenly threw a switch or something. There's people everywhere, and the rides are going round like so fast, and there's deafening happy band music everywhere, deafening, disorienting. People milling round, all unhappy, supporting their sick. God it's hot. And I think this is the place where people who have family dying from cancer come to say goodbye. Are there theme parks for other diseases, or picnic areas, zoos? I can smell the sea.

Mum and Dad are heading off towards a big hotel with an underground mall. My aunt and uncle are already lost in the crowd. I'd really like to swim. I also want to go to the mall to buy some new clothes as the dress I'm wearing is too tight and hot and impractical. I walk toward some huge futuristic ride, like Space Mountain or something, but as I come up to it, I realise its only some kind of huge old Ferris Wheel, enormous and rusted, like it's about to fall apart. I start to shout to the people on it, to get off or they'll get killed. Then someone grabs my arm. I whirl round, then breathe out with relief when I recognise these three old White Russians who lived on our street when I was very young (I don't know where I get this from). Two of them are husband and wife, and the old one, the ancient one, is their father, an old Tzarist general. He's very sick and I realise I've got to support him. The Russian couple say goodbye to the Old General; their cheeks are glistening with sweat and tears. The Old General grunts, and I walk with him, one arm in his. His clothes are wet with seawater(?) and he's all twisted up with pain, but he's loud and jolly and he's got real dignity. He smiles, whispering something in my ear. I smile too. We walk on through the crowd.

The Old General says he's got to go now, and I tell him Okay, I'll see him around and kiss him on the cheek. He chuckles and walks away. I stand and watch him for a while, then I head for the hotel. In a clothes shop in the mall, mum's choosing a dress. Without wanting to, but knowing I have to, I pick up a pair of cheap, tacky earrings and go to the checkout. The girl at the till looks like me and she has the same earrings on. They don't suit her. She smiles at me and I feel embarrassed. I leave the shop putting the earrings on. My uncle and aunt leave with me and we're back in the park. Night's falling and a fresh sea breeze is picking up my skirt from around my legs. The breeze smells fine. Now people are moving out, like a crowd of refugees, the healthy ones supporting the sick. We're moving out, and the parking lot and the heat of the rides fades away like a dream, and the sea's ahead of us, the wash sounding stronger and stronger. I'm walking all alone, and I can see the Old General ahead of me, still cursing and dreaming hard, looking worse, and my aunt, silent and pale, leaning heavier on my uncle, lips so tightly pressed together they're white. I hear waves.

Suddenly, my uncle turns, tells me my aunt's dead. I can't believe it, and I ask him how it happened. He says, "she has cancer." Then I see it all unfold in front of my eyes. Of course she's not dead yet, she's still walking. We're all walking, walking past a long narrow beach beyond which is a still, warm sea, rippling, calm, a dead calm. On the horizon, the sun is just a massive red globe without anything warm. Perhaps it's the last sunset. It seems that way. I push my hair off my forehead and try to let the breeze lift me up.

Suddenly the Old General shouts something like "THAT'S IT!!" and runs free, jumping over the low stone wall onto the beach, running to the water kicking up little flicks of sand, running and diving in, swimming away till he vanishes. Some of the other patients do the same, and a rush starts. The next part is horrible. I see my aunt. She's standing on the stone wall, smiling for the first time. She's going to dive into the water. I try to shout to her no, she'll never reach the water, but she jumps. She lands head first on the sand, hard. I feel the kick of the impact in my chest, and put my hand there, breathing deep. Then her body kind of disintegrates from the impact like a wet bag of sand. The waves wash her away before the seabirds get to her. Soon all the cancer cases are gone, and we're all standing at the low wall, watching the sea ripple, all the healthy ones. Then I step over the wall. And I don't feel sick any more.

Then the beach party starts. Food is eaten and drink drunk. People are splashing round, sitting talking, kissing and laughing. I recognise faces: friends from art school, buried to their necks in sand, an old boyfriend, teachers from school, lots of people I know or knew, all having fun.

I take my beer and walk to the leftmost edge of the beach, and sit down, pulling my knees to my chest. From there, I can see the whole angle of the beach, the people dancing away to my right, the sand warm and damp under me.

I'm about to go back to the party when I think I see a yacht on the horizon and then I wake up.

27th February

There's this young mother playing with her child, dandling it on her knee. The child's very small, just a baby, and it's really happy, gurgling and laughing. The mother's really happy too. But suddenly, I realise that they're at the top of this really long, steep set of stairs. The staircase is dark and lit at intervals by dingy yellow tungsten lights. There's a harsh bluewhite light coming from the open window on the landing behind the mother.

I know exactly what's going to happen next, but I'm not present in the scene, and so I can't do anything about it. I see the mother's fingers slip their grip on the baby. The baby starts to drop down the stairs. The picture fragments. The drop seems to last an eternity in slow motion, seen from many angles.

The ... drop ... lasts ... .... forever...

Then it ends.

The impact at the bottom of the stairs is a low, dull, long, thud, the baby lying still in darkness.

Then I'm in a bar and I realise the baby (now grown up), has been telling me about the fall. He's telling me and some friends how his mother never quite got over it. Neither did he. Now he can't say certain words or move his eyes up because of the damage to his brain. I tell him he can move his head if he wants to look up. He smiles, and says, "Yeah, it's not all bad."

Then I woke up.

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