It was a Friday in June. The winter sun was clear and cold, but the gas fire in the sunroom leant a pleasant warmth to the day. I had done a fair afternoon’s work. Well, I had spent a fair few hours in concerted effort. That is to say I had stared at the computer screen for a long and pointless time. That is almost the same thing. I needed to reframe my perspective. Perhaps if I were to stretch back onto the couch and close my eyes, but just for a moment.
A door closed with a bang, so I guess that I reasoned that someone must have also just opened it. It was dark, but not quite night. Who? Where? Ah, sleep. I had nodded off and I was having a dream, a sleep induced thought, an idea. What was it? I felt that it was an important one, that it was a good idea, something I needed to know.
“You in here?” She asks of the empty seeming house. My wife has returned from, somewhere I can’t quite remember.
“Yes, I’m in here.” I replied.
And the thought was gone.
Saturday. Late the following day and we were driving to our friends’ place just outside of Ballarat. Bella had decided to drive, as is her occasional want, so I was enjoying the luxury of watching the world slip past out of the side window. Passengers in cars see such a different world to drivers. Dark shapes, bounded by swathes of moonlight, rolling hills and paddocks, with the occasional pin points of farmhouse lights. A gently soporific scene blurring by.
It is the same dream. I am sure of it. That important idea from yesterday afternoon’s nap. Is it the making of a short story? I think so, and not a bad one either. Yes, I… The car suddenly stops moving, I open my eyes to see, petrol pumps? Bella has pulled into fill the tank. Once again, I feel the thought slipping away. I fight to hold on to it. Gone. I feel a burning frustration of loss, for something that I can’t quite remember. It would be churlish to blame anyone, so instead I lament in silence.
Over dinner with our friends at the Wallace Pub, I find that an annoying little part of me is still brooding away in the back of my mind. “You’ve got a phone with you.” said Adrian interrupting my bad humour. “When you go to bed tonight, set it on the bed side table and as you go to sleep, tell yourself to have the same dream. You can write it down in the note app as soon as you open your eyes.” Adrian was an old mate who D.J.ed at the local regional FM radio station. “That is what I do, and it works a treat. I remember near all of my dreams nowadays.”
“You know, that is not as silly as it sounds Aid.” I replied, and for the first time that night I start to truly relax and enjoy the company.
Again, The Dream, that thought, the idea that I knew I both liked and needed, and now I am prepared. Adrian’s idea is working. I sit up, grab my iPhone, unlock it, open the Notes app, yes, The Dream is fading but I will catch it, save it. But even as I type the first few words, my phone buzzes with a message alert. “It is from my sister. I have not spoke to her for, what is it, eight weeks?” I think to myself, and before I realise what I am doing I am opening the message.
And again I feel that blasted thought slide out of my mind. Lost once again.
Not one to give up, nor one to ignore lessons hard learnt, I have swapped the phone for an actual, physical note pad and pen. I even test that the pen has ink each night before I go to sleep. As I nod off, I tell myself “Now remember The Dream.” I notice that I even capitalise it in my thoughts now.
But the best laid plans of mice and men…
I sleep the sleep of the innocent, or in my case, the damned. Not a dream, not a flurry nor a twitch. I do not think that I have even rolled over for five nights straight now. What is worse, I am sure that I have never slept better. I wake refreshed and rested. And bitter. Bitter and more and more twisted.
I know that it was a good idea. ‘Is’ a good idea. A clever idea. I am sure of it. Well, I think that it is anyway. Then again, perhaps not, maybe it is all just wishful thinking. Once more I stare at my keyboard with that mundane writer’s malaise. The wearying ennui of a bright blank screen containing a single, flashing cursor. Writer’s block.
That all happened a couple of weeks ago. It is Friday once again. And it is just as pleasant a winter’s day as that first one was. The sun is just as bright and fresh, and just as devoid of warmth. The faux log gas fireplace is radiating the perfect amount of comfort, the couch is just as inviting right now as it had been back then. Perhaps I might just watch the flames for a moment, relax and let my imagination wander. Just for a moment or two, to clear my mind. And watch I did, drifting through thoughts and memories, ever wary not to actually close my eyes. If I closed my eyes I would probably sleep, and then I would lose even more time. So I kept them open, I …
I woke with a start, but this time there is no noise or distraction. The dream had come back unasked for. That is what woke me. It is the same one. I remembered it. I am sure, and it is not such a bad idea after all. It is an idea for a short story. More than just an idea, it is a complete story, the very thing I had been trying to write for two weeks now, without success. But this time… This time I wrote it down before it could slip away.