The following is from a dream I once had. I dreamed it then wrote it a long time ago but have never shared it before. I don’t know why. I think I forgot that I had written it.
It does not follow story-logic, as Neil Gaiman would say. It is a dream story, and it follows dream-logic, which is to say no logic at all. I woke up from this dream in my friend’s bed. The morning had never seemed so perfectly still. The music for which this dream is titled (La Reve) was still fading in my ears. I wish I could remember how it sounded.
We were running.
Into the pearlescent forest, trees stretching towards the snowy sky; a grim place, a beautiful place. It was filled with silver; with grey-bearded noble trees, bark like suede, like the soft fur that covers faun’s knees. The air was mist. Cold water suspended in oxygen and hanging in glistening strings from the branches. We ran through them and burst their gossamer baubles across our faces, against our dark wool. Their beauty stained us.
We orphans were dark shadows weaving through the woods. Everything grey and moss-green and silver-blue except for our tiny, frantic bodies. We brought darkness to the trees, to the faded green grasses that sat beneath the mist. Somewhere in the forest was our city. Somewhere the shadows gathered, hidden beneath the trees; underground, buried, the living dead.
Behind us, in the far-off distance, came the elegant crash of our pursuers entering the forest.
We were chased.
We found our city; we hid.
The blundering, graceful giants still sought us. They were black cats, they were pole cats, they were hunters and they killed us, then they lost us again. Eventually they starved. They crashed to the forest floor in heaps. Panting over-exertion. Ribs stood out from shrunken bodies that finally lay still. There was elegance in their stillness. They were fluid corpses. We began to build again; pearly cities in the valleys beside the trees.
There is a cafe, and it is bathed in sunlight. The light doesn’t make it warm. It’s a cold light, like the trees, like the mist. Everything is pearl. Grey and white like goose down.
The cafe’s glass doors are thrown open. Chairs and people spill out onto the street; they are separated from cobblestones by a thin decorative fence. There are other buildings up and down the street. A few people walking on the sides and coming in and out of doorways. It is quiet except for the chinking of lemonade glasses against saucers. Condensation slides down the sides of the glass and stains the tables.
The orphans have exchanged dark wool for light suits in oyster-shell colors. Over there, a woman dares to smile. In the door of the cafe, a waiter carries a glass onto the patio. He is bald except for a thin crescent of hair at the back of his skull, and his fingers leave smudges on the glass he is holding. By the fence, there is a man reading a newspaper. The man is alone. His newspaper is thirty years old. He is doing the crossword puzzle when the first strains of music filter into the cafe.
The song is called “Le Reve.” It is a song from the world before, and very few can hear it. The man reading the newspaper is one of the few.
The man stands and walks into the street. He is looking into the sky at nothing; at the pearlescent clouds, at the flat, grey world. The sun is bright but not yellow; it is a paler shade of grey. The people in the cafe are staring at him now. Some have risen from their seats to watch him stand in the street and listen to the dream. He sways, and falls to his knees. He is crying. The tears are like the mist on the trees, and they cling to his face. They are strands of gossamer. The orphans are crying through this man. He will be taken away and taken care of, but he will never stop hearing the dream.