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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The Last Train

The sun has sunk below the horizon and the clear, cloudless sky is a thousand shades of blue and yellow and purple. Like a bruise. I lean against the veranda railing and stare out at the endless sea, feeling the moist breeze gently touching my hair.

It rained last night. And all day yesterday. Rained like it would never end. And now, the world has become a sea. Stretching in every direction away from this place: the only visible building, standing tall and wide, surrounded by infinite amounts of water. Even the train tracks are submerged. I look down, check my watch, and wait.

And there it is. The last train of the day, leaving this building, flying on the surface of the sea. Its sound is reassuring: the ‘clack, clack … clack, clack’ of its heartbeat and the wash of water under its belly. The train is looking forward, headlights shining on the water ahead like glowing eyes. It leaves behind a stretching wake in the shape of a ‘v’, gentle waves rolling outwards.

I watch the train until its song fades away and it becomes a smudge of grey on the horizon. Sighing, I sit down on the veranda and rest my head against the wooden bars.

One day, I promise myself, I will get on that train and leave this place. And I will never look back.

Every evening, I come out here. Every evening, I watch that train leave. And every evening I make the same promise. One day I’ll be free. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that I will never be able to leave here. And with each departing train my heart grows heavier. Closing my eyes, I sit still for a while, trying to empty my mind… trying to forget.

I stand and go inside, turning my back on the sea, the bruised sky and the train tracks. I turn my back on my own broken promises and try to get on with my life.

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