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Once Upon A Dream


The Other (Part 2)





70%. That should be enough, I imagined positively, albeit still helpless in actuality. I turned off the display on the phone to save what potential contact with the outside world remained. Not an emergency. Not yet, at least.


If she had known, she would have helped. Without question or a second thought. I was in no mood for holding my bowl out, bleating for the support that would probably have made my life easier in the short term. But it wasn't the short term that gave me pause for condsideration. More the aftermath. She was skilled in highlighting the deficiencies of others when they needed it the least. I imagined she carried a box of chalk around with her at all times, just to make a note of the points she had scored. Weakness was not a trait I wanted to display to her today.


And so I waited for assistance from without. It wasn't even as if this was my fault, but the incompetence of others. That was the reason for this unexpected cost.


I still thought of her every day, like a fleeting vapour trail of a dream of a past life. So remote now as if to be nothing more than inventively imagined. Not perfect, however. I was too old and too cynical to believe in fairytales or the misguided inpregnable narcissism of others. Everybody was fallible, of course. Impossibly flawed in a myriad of ways. Nothing more than meat and organs, so they were cursed to be. Physically delicate with squishy, mouldable, pliable minds to match. Collectively, I cared little for them, regretting the species with its interminable graspings and cravings, petty needs and desires for better. For more. And then more. Most of those blessed souls were nothing more than a waste of the oxygen they gulped. Consumed in their vast, marauding numbers. Twice as many were born today as died. The same as every other day.


Her sense of self was only slightly more admirable, bearable at the time due to her more obvious pleasing physical qualities. Still, just a bag of meat, nonetheless, even when she made an effort of romance, caregiving or seduction. I used to think she didn't care. On reflection, it seems that she just didn't think. Be careful what you wish for, The fool and his future are easily redirected by something as inconsequential as a comely ankle.


Not for the first time, I considered that my own opinion may be just as flawed and that my mind may be as much the reason for my ambivalence towards others. Their loss. There we go. Reset.

It may well have been a well practiced knee-jerk defence mechanism, but as time drew on, I wondered if a blanket lack of faith in anyone apart from myself (and not always then, even) was the correct response to what I assumed was the frailty of others.


68% - Still fine. Good for hours.


***


As a still relatively young man with a devoted wife and the expected number of demanding progeny underfoot, a gleaming, detached new build in an upscaled lifestyle, he would use his degree to affect a life he rarely questioned. Some men his age shunned the well-worn route to domestic bliss. He was happy with bridge nights, dinner parties and neighbourhood babysitting vouchers. His way forward welcomed and ushered him into suits and ties, neat Scotch, sunday roasts and football on a Saturday. And he failed to bat an eyelid in the direction of any other potential adventure.


***


I heard her again last night. It's been nearly every night for the past couple of weeks. I think it's her. It feels like her. But I can't be certain, of course. Only the fleeting presence. An ethereal reminder of an event yet to pass. As if collective consciousness has allowed a door to be opened, enabling her to glide through like my nightly fog. Her presence permeates my dreams. She never invades my meandering subconcious, only hinting at revelations, lighting bulbs I hadn't seen, smirking. She and only she sets a tone at a time of her choosing and presents a barrage of inescapable challenges which can never be completed.


Tonight, a multi-carriaged train leaves its tracks at alarming, unfathomable speed, untethered and uncontrolled. Through the windows I can see the glamourous decor in chaos and disarray, flutes and silverware caught in flux, but the carriages are empty of terror. No souls, for which I am grateful. A carriage jack-knifes and hurtles forward at me on its side, tearing up the earth, leaving a wake of dirt and uprooted trees at its relentless approach, churning the ground and my stomach. As my end comes for me, I can only stare in wonder at the scene of my impending doom. No time to question the chance of escape or avoidance, to ponder the bleak consideration of a life as yet unfulfilled. It strikes into me without pause, not even noticing the devastation it has wrought.


For a fraction of a moment, I wait for the pain of obliteration, but there is none. The void of black is swift and forgiving tonight and I imagine she must be thinking fondly of me. I am both grateful and expectant in my now familiar limbo. Were it ever so delicate?

Only then does she release me from her clutches, as if teaching me a lesson I cannot begin to understand.


The void retreats and the darkness with it a little. The place is only various greys.

I check my phone.

66%

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