Monday, 23 November 2015

Beware of what you read...

I don't normally have dreams and if I do, I don't usually remember them. But, I guess, it's hard not to remember a dream in which you were preparing to depart from this world into the next one, your family around you, fussing about what you should take with yourself. It didn't help matters that the dream was extremely colourful and detailed. I remember that in the dream my mother was helping me to pack my bag as though I was going on a trip, though the knowledge of my true destination hung – unspoken – in the air. I remember two brightly-burning candles blowing and twisting in the wind that seemed to be confined to the bell jars they were in. I remember packing my favourite books and other stuff that I thought I might need or might not imagine my 'life' without. My grandmother was there too – an ominous sign, because she is dead. 

I woke up disoriented, panicked and scared. No surprise there, right? It took me a few minutes to calm down and realize that it had just been a really creepy dream, albeit of high-resolution quality. It didn't take me long to figure out what had caused it but the unpleasant feeling didn't leave me for a while. I was sitting upright in bed, blinking and rubbing my eyes as the deep steely-blue sky was gradually lightening outside. I started recalling a jumble of lines from CATCHING FIRE that I had been reading on the eve, having seen the final film of the series earlier in the day. Katniss resolved to die in the arena in order to save Peeta's life; she was mentally saying her good-byes over and over again, preparing herself for the inevitable final act of sacrifice: “Since I don't plan on making it back alive a second time... This time I don't have even the slightest hope of return... I'd actually figured out what I wanted my last words to my loved ones to be... It's my dying wish... I do my best, thinking of them one by one, releasing them like birds from protective cages inside me, locking the doors against their return...” 

If that wasn't enough to effect the pattern of my thoughts and turn them into a nightmare, just before falling asleep, I was also listening to the chapter from HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE dealing with horcruxes, their purpose and Lord Voldemort's life-long ambition to avoid death at all costs. Dumbledore and Harry's discussion must have seeped into my open, unprotected mind, relaxed by sleep, twisting and tangling my thoughts and playing tricks with my subconsciousness, making me the main character of a story and sending me off on a quest... However, my granny disappeared before the end and the dream dissolved before I could be whisked away. I think entirely too much. My brain is always working and buzzing with thoughts. Before reading and listening, I was reworking a piece of my own writing into a first-person narrative, influenced by the powerful narration of THE HUNGER GAMES books, where a certain grandma (based, I admit, on my late one) and interrupted sleep played a central part in the short scene that I had written.

I wanted it to be tense, terse and gritty but then I realized that as much as I want it to have an impact on readers like a punch to the gut it just doesn't belong in the fairyland world that I've created. I don't imagine that I will be trying it again but here's what I've written:

I yawn and feel my eyes fall shut even as grandma's snores start rumbling again across the room. They become so loud the windows begin to rattle in their frames and as there is no wind there can be only one explanation for that. It's been a long day - Throne Room Days are always the longest - and I'm tired of playing the same game over and over again. For the last two hours or so I was trying to focus my wandering attention on the chapter assigned for my today's after-dinner perusal. But I had to stop every quarter of an hour and shout "Grandma!" - about the only thing that has the power to stop her snores. Even if it is only for five minutes. Here they go again. I grit my teeth and shut the book. The History of the Upper Kingdom. Did I tell you? I am the High Lady of the Upper Kingdom - a magic kingdom ruled by women but currently plunged into loneliness and gloom by a certain curse - and it is my duty to know the history of my kingdom and my people by heart. But not today. I shut the book and put it on my lap but it slips down and disappears out of sight. Woo, my trusted friend and wolf, stirs on the rug at the foot of my armchair, ready to pick it up. I tell him "No". Not out loud, though. But through a secret mind bond that we share. I can't stand the rolls of my grandma's thunderous snores any more. "Grandma!" I shout. She stops mid-rumble, chokes slightly, opens her eyes and clears her throat. Out of the corner of my eye I relish the sight of her startled gaze. I pretend that I had not spoken. I do not stir. I stare into the fire as though hypnotised. Avoiding eye contact and conversation is the best policy. Sure enough, the next moment she goes back to sleep and I sigh and relax because it is so very quiet. The fire is blazing in the grate now and I feel so snug and warm, cocooned in my shawl. I can't resist the pull any more. I yawn, snuggle deep into my armchair, close my eyes and doze off...   

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