The Dream Maker
Ever wondered what happens to dreams once you’ve woken up?
Impossible? That’s what I said and then…
Start at the beginning. That’s what my old mum used to say to me. I would get all excited about something and want to tell her all in one go. She’d grab hold of me by the shoulders, look me in the eyes and very slowly say.
“Stop. Take a deep breath and start at the beginning.”
Well, I’ve taken a deep breath and now I’ll start.
Last Thursday I went to bed early. It had been a very long day and by half past nine my head was wobbling so much my wife said she was scared it might just fall off.
“Don’t fall asleep in the armchair; it’ll do you no good. Go to bed. Have an early night. You’ll feel much better for it in the morning.”
I didn’t argue. Just mumbled something incomprehensible, waived in her general direction and headed for the bedroom.
My clothes came off in two simple moves. Jeans came off with pants and found my socks on the way down. Shirt didn’t get unbuttoned just lifted over my head and in two seconds I slumped naked onto the bed and pulled the duvet in tight. I was asleep in seconds.
My dream came quickly.
I was walking into a pub at exactly the same time as someone else. He got there a second before me and held the door open.
I entered the pub first and walked up to the bar. There was nothing unusual about this, I’m often in pubs, but this one was different. It seemed to be a collaboration of many pubs that I’d spent time in. For example the barman was a good publican friend of mine, now deceased, called Ronnie. But it wasn’t his pub. The pub was a mixture of at least three that I knew. The bar was from the Rose and Crown, the furniture was from The George and the décor and photos on the wall were from The Britannia.
Ronnie was pleased to see me.
“Morning mate, how are you this morning? Pint?”
“I’m good thanks Ron. Pint would be lovely.”
I sat at my usual place at the bar. At the end by the enormous ice bucket. Ronnie poured me a pint and brought it over.
We had our usual conversation about how quiet the pub game was and how it was such a shame that so many were closing. Ronnie then walked over to serve the stranger. I say stranger, yet there seemed to be something familiar about him. You know when you meet someone and know you’ve seen them before but can’t think where? Well that’s how I felt about this “stranger”.
Ronnie seemed to know him well and poured him a pint without asking what he wanted.
The pub was empty, yet the stranger chose to come and sit at the bar right next to me. He spoke with a faint Yorkshire accent.
“Morning, enjoying the dream?”
I was taken aback by that comment. Up until then I hadn’t realised I was in a dream. I smiled.
“Yeh it’s great. Nice to see Ronnie again. Do I know you?”
He took a large gulp of his beer.
“Not yet, but you will. Soon.”
That didn’t make any sense to me. But I figured it was a dream so nothing should really make sense. I decided to play along.
“When? When will I know you?”
“In a few days’ time. That’s when the dream will finish. We’re just at the start of it now, you’ll wake in a moment but the dream will continue until you come back to it. This one will cross over.”
“Cross over? What’s that?”
“That’s when a dream crosses over into real life. Some do. This one does. In a few days time.”
He was speaking English but I didn’t understand a word he was saying. I had to get more information.
“This is a dream right?”
“You’re saying that I’ll wake up in a minute, right?”
“But the dream will carry on without me in it?”
“That’s right. All dreams must have a start and a finish. Them’s the rules. If you’re in it from the start you have to be there at the end. Them’s the rules. “
“What about Ronnie? He was in it at the start. Does he have to be in it at the end as well?”
“Don’t be silly. Ronnie’s dead. He can come and go in dreams as he pleases. That’s the beauty of being dead, you can step in and out of people’s dreams all the time. It’s only the living that the rules apply to!”
He spoke to me as though I should have known all this information. He shook his head.
“Haven’t you ever noticed how many dead people are in your dreams?”
I thought about it for a second and then had to agree.
“Yeh, loads of them.”
“That’s because the rules don’t apply to them. They can step in and out at any time. They love it. It’s a great pastime for them and a great way to see old friends and relations that are still living.”
“What about you? Are you dead or alive?”
“Me? Oh I’m a bit of both. The dead part of me means that I can appear in anyone’s dream, but the living bit of me means that if I’m in at the start I have to be there at the end. I’ll definitely be there at the end of this one when we say thank you and goodbye.”
There was a loud bang. My eyes opened and I sat up in bed. My wife was standing beside me with an apologetic look on her face.
“Sorry darling. I tried to close the door quietly but the window was open and the draught must have slammed it shut. Sorry.”
I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. My dream continued. I was back at the bar; the stranger was still there with me. But now the pub was jam packed.
“Where did all this lot come from?”
“They’ve been here for ages. As I told you before, just cos you woke up doesn’t mean that the dream stopped. It carried on. A coach just pulled up in the car park and this lot came in. They’re on their way to Margate.”
“Will they be there at the end as well?”
He seemed annoyed by my remark.
“Haven’t you listened to a word I’ve said? Of course they won’t. They weren’t here at the beginning. Only me, you and Ronnie were here. Ronnie’s dead so he doesn’t have to be but you and I HAVE to be there.”
I decided to humour him.
“Oh yeh, silly me, I forgot.”
He smiled again.
“Look, it’s very simple. Dreams take a lot of planning. There’s always a start and always a finish. Just like any good story. The dead can come and go as they like. Think of it as an unscripted film. With actors coming on and playing a part and then leaving. Ronnie wasn’t supposed to be here, he just wanted to pop in and say hello. All of the people on the coach that just arrived are dead but thought it would be nice to turn up here uninvited. It can all get out of control if you’re not careful. That’s where people like me come in. I make sure that it has a start and an end.”
“Ahh so only you know how it ends?”
“Yep, and it ends in a couple of days’ time. But this one crosses over. “
“Into real life?”
“Now you’re getting it. Some dreams become so complicated and out of control that the only way to finish them is to cross over. Once the dream crosses over the dead can’t interfere anymore. That’s what will happen in this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that they can come and go as they want but if you’re not careful the bloody things can go on forever and I’ve got other dreams to get involved in. So I’ve decided that this one will cross over and end on the other side.”
Just as he was finishing his sentence the door burst open and there was my old Uncle George astride a big black horse singing an Al Jolson song.
“See what I mean. Total mayhem!”
I began to say something but a noise was ringing in my ears. My eyes popped open and I turned off the alarm. I tried to shrug it off as just another silly dream.
But, over the next few nights the dream played on my mind. It was vivid. I could remember everything the stranger had told me. As hard as I tried I just couldn’t get back into my own dream. Every time I fell asleep I kept realising that I was actually in the middle of someone else’s.
Three days later and I decided to put it out of my mind. I was up early and it was a beautiful morning. For some reason instead of taking the train to work I decided to drive instead. I stopped for petrol at the local Asda store. I was on auto pilot not really paying attention to anything in particular. I filled up the tank, paid the cashier and walked back to my car. I heard someone say my name and tap me on the shoulder.
“Sir, you forgot your change.”
I turned and saw him.
The same man as in the dream. He was wearing an Asda fleece and was smiling at me. I didn’t know what to say. I simply said.
He winked at me.
“You’re welcome. Goodbye.”