Dreaming Adam

Children
I’m at the beach.

The sea is slurping at the sand, toying with small pebbles, pushing them back and forth. The smell of salt is in the cold wind coming off the sea. Children dressed in bright clothes, the only colour in sight, dig and play in the sand. I feel like I’ve been here before, like this has happened before: but I can’t remember when.

“You came.”

I turn.

Behind me stands a young man, his chestnut hair wet from swimming. He’s barefoot, his jeans rolled up to his knees. I know him. He’s Adam. I’ve definitely been here before, I remember this! My sense of deja’vu is making this whole thing feel a little surreal.

“Of course I did,” I tell him, smiling. “You know I can’t refuse you anything!”

He smiles back, but his eyes are worried. He looks like he’s about to say something; but nothing comes, and he closes his mouth.

I feel as though I’m in a play, reading out my lines. This has been said before, done before. “Are you okay?”

He stares at me, his eyes intense and so deep I feel like I’m at the bottom of the ocean.

I feel like I know what should happen next. He’s going to smile, shrug. His line is, ‘Don’t worry, it’s nothing’. And then he will take my hand, pull me into the shallows, and we paddle and laugh and get soaked.

I’m so sure what will happen that when he blurts out, “Jenny, you’re in trouble,” I freeze.

Why isn’t he following the script? An odd feeling of fear slides into my heart; by breaking away from the script, he’s broken a rule.

The words jump from my throat without permission. “Don’t say that!” I cry. “Don’t!” If he does, if he does, something terrible will happen, this world will break down…

He speaks over my frantic pleas.

“You thought you’d escaped Dan after New York, but he’s close. He’s right on your tail and closing in. You’ve got to get out of there, now!”

This is wrong. The Adam from this memory couldn’t possibly know these things. This was Adam before any of this started, this was Adam from before New York…

The world feels like it’s spinning. The sound of the seagulls, of the lapping of the sea, children screaming; everything seems to mute. My vision tunnels so I can only see Adam.

“How can you possibly know that? You don’t even know where I am!”

He smiles sadly. “No, I don’t. And I never will. Wake up now, get up and get out! I don’t want you to end up the same as me.”

I’m so dizzy, the world is flying away from me. The bright clothes of the children are so colourful they make my head ache. Adam’s face blurs. The world is pulsing to my heartbeat.

“What are you talking about?” I cry, feeling suddenly alone. My voice echoes in the emptiness of the void.

I can’t see Adam anymore, but his voice is as clear as if he’s talking in my ear.

“I’m dead, Jenny.” He whispers. He speaks haltingly, emotion snapping and splintering his voice. “Daniel killed me. Now stop dreaming and wake up before they get you too!”

The beach disappears; I’m falling through black space, tumbling in empty air, my fingers raking through nothingness for something to hold…

I wake up with a start and tears on my cheeks. Adam’s voice echoes through the emptiness of my head.

Get out… before he kills you too.

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A Day at the Dunes

The contents of the overcrowded minibus spilled out onto the sand.

After being cooped up for hours in that sweaty tin-can bus, the teenagers exploded.

For hours, the golden sun gazed at the crazy teenagers in wonder

Watching as they ran and screamed and slid and clambered over the endless sand dunes

They chased, and raced, and tumbled, and played games until the sun began to sink

Then, as one, they collapsed at the bottom of a dune, exhausted

Sand caked every inch of their sticky suncream skin

They lay sprawled on the sand, using each other as pillows

When they recovered their breath, they struggled to their feet and slowly stumbled off

Searching the golden sand for driftwood

By the time the heap of wood was big enough, the sun had sunk out of sight

Leaving only the very tops of the dunes blazing with gold

They lit the fire and the dancing red flames shot up into the dark sky

With the last traces of energy they possessed, the teenagers leapt to their feet

And danced, and sang, and ran around the bonfire as the night fell

Holding hands, making an untidy ring around the roaring bonfire

Dancing to the left, to the right, faster and faster, stamping their feet on the sand

Singing all the campfire songs they knew, as loudly as they could

Until they ran out of songs and had to sing them all twice

All caught up in the wild stomping rhythm

When the flames died down, they collapsed around the ring of glowing coals

Marshmallows were passed around and soon everyone was eating and chatting and talking

The fire popping and crackling merrily in the centre

The stars began to prick through the heavens and shine

A yellow moon peered over a dune, then raised its dented head and climbed into the star scattered sky

The teenagers lay on their stomachs around the fire, watching the gleaming ashes with heavy eyelids

The wind gusted now and then, sending sparks like red fireflies floating through the air

The conversations grew quieter, laughter still breaking out now and then

The fire was little more than embers but the heat it gave off was cosy and comforting

Slowly, their heads drooped and the conversation faded away

With their heads resting on someone else’s stomach, they sleepily stared up at the stars

Then, one by one, they drifted away

Their dreams full of running and dancing and the stamping of feet

Until all that was left at the bottom of the moon washed dune

Were the still warm ashes of a fire

And the sticky sandy bodies of many exhausted teenagers.

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