Weird dreams Vol 2: Moths to flame

You can’t save everyone, but it never hurts to try.

I always felt like that should have been some ‘Old-Folk’s’ wisdom passed down from my grandfather, to my Dad, to me and then to Nick, and then my grandchildren, but my Old Man never really took the time to give me any wisdom, save from how to change a tire and not to trust anyone outside of the country. Honestly, I don’t even know where I heard that line, but I still let it rotate through my head every now and then. Probably from a film, or maybe I just thought of it and the shower and told myself it was deep, and that I was so smart. I think I know where it comes from. It was born from that same feeling I had at the back of my stomach when mum left, when Dad died, and when Anne signed the papers that made sure I could only see Nick once a week. Its that feeling you have when you’re standing in the aftermath, on the ashes where something beautiful used to exist, you wonder how you got there, then you realise that you’ve been watching the entire time, you just didn’t move to stop it.

It was a few minutes before eleven when I got to the food court. The glass ceiling opened up a rain of pure light onto the fourth floor of the Mall, illuminating the dirty tables and sticky floor. I strode past the cleaner, who spent several minutes draping a mop over the same spot. Out of meticulous merit or malicious compliance, I couldn’t quite tell. I sat at a table meant for four, and placed my bag on one of the seats. Only a few tables were occupied, a gaggle of teenagers, an elderly woman and her middle-aged daughter sitting by a pram, a lone man with head-phones on, devouring a burger and fries. It was an odd place to meet a client, but not the first time I met Ray here. His business wasn’t a big one for our company, but he was a loyal customer, so of course I didn’t mind going a little out of the way for the meeting. I tried to get him to change the location a couple of times, but he insisted this was the perfect half-way point, but if he had ever looked at a map, then he would know that was absolutely not the case. I took out my laptop and switched it on, checking my emails and busying myself for the next seven or eight minutes until he arrived. I thought about grabbing a drink at one of the four open vendors, but decided against it. Then eight minutes passed. I hesitated on answering an email from another client, but after two more minutes, I decided to begin the draft. Then it was fifteen minutes. My eyes couldn’t help but continuously dart towards the escalator entrance, just to be aware when he arrived, but after twenty-three minutes, I decided to grab a coffee from the sandwich place.

I stood at the counter and took my wallet out of my pocket, as the teenager in uniform smiled patiently at me while I deliberated. I opened my mouth to speak, when in my peripheral, I saw a quickly moving shape with a smaller blur in tow. I turned round to see Ray moving quickly, dragging a young boy behind him by the hand. He looked sweaty, and in a panic. I turned to smile at him. He spotted me, and turned, quickly marching to me, a look of exhaustion splattered over his face, and he dragged the child with him. I reached out with my hand, and he grabbed it, shaking it quickly with his sweaty palms.

“David, sorry I’m late” He said with exasperation. His voice was raspy and coarse, and he spoke quickly. Every-time I had met Ray he had always been in some kind of rush. he was a man who always piled too much onto his plate the day before and worried about he consequences as they were occurring, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was looking into a mirror half of the time.

“No worries, I was just about to grab a coffee, do you…?” I asked politely, gesturing to him, when my eyes darted down to the boy, still holding Ray’s hand. He was only a year or two older than Nick, probably eight or nine years old. His brown hair was scruffy, and his brown eyes were flecked with white speckles of light. They were luminous and large, melting chocolate in the sun. He stared at me with a flat expression that made me feel like I was just another stone in a wall. Ray shook his head at the offer, and looked at his watch, lifting the entire arm of the boy up with the motion.

“No, no time.” He wheezed. “Gotta get Alfie to the Orthodontist by half-twelve.” He turned to give the boy an enthusiastic smile, and the boy gave him the same flat look. “Gonna get you some new braces, aren’t we?” He said with a slight chuckle. Alfie said nothing. Ray turned back to me. “Shall we find somewhere to sit?” I gestured towards where my bag was sat, and turned to throw an apologetic smile to the teenager who stood diligently. She folded her arms and gave me an attempt at a polite smile, but I could see the contempt as she walked away, and I couldn’t help but feel that pang in my stomach.

We sat at my table, and I brought my laptop closer to me. Ray sat in front of me, and Alfie to his side. Ray rustled in his pocket and produced his phone and hastily handed it to Alfie.

“Here, play those games you like, Daddy’s just gonna talk to David for a bit, alright?” The child silently took the phone from his hand, and began tapping rapidly at it, trying to select which game to play. Ray gave me a smirk that said “Kids, eh?” and I returned it with a knowing smile of my own. I used the track-pad to find the documents I could present him.

“So, thanks for meeting me today again Ray, I do appreciate it.” I said, glancing above my laptop as I hunted through my documents. “I’ll try not to take too much of your time.” I opened up the PDF file as he nodded patiently. I turned the laptop towards him.

“This is the new website banner, I made some adjustments as per your email.” I said as he leaned forward with keen interest. With larger clients, this process was done almost entirely over email or phone, but with someone like Ray, a self-made businessman with little to no time to worry about small details like aesthetics, I liked the personal approach. Besides, I admired him, and I always felt like I left our little meetings with a new found vigour for work. He turned his wife’s side-business of selling plants on Ebay into a fully-functioning machine, with people on his pay-roll and an innumerable amount of clients. He continued to stare at it, dissecting every pixel with a twitch of his pupils.

“Ahh David..” He said, trailing off slightly. My heart jumped several inches up in my chest and I swallowed hard. I braced myself for bad news, clenched my fist on the table, before he added; “It’s perfect“. I felt my body reset, and I breathed out the adrenaline that had begun to surge through my veins. I chuckled slightly, and when he noticed my body tense and relax, he gave me a sympathetic smile. His eyes glinted with something close to admiration.

“It gets better every-time you alter it.” He said warmly. “How will it look on the website?” He asked. I eagerly turned the laptop and quickly began to bring up the draft of the new website. He leaned back and gently rubbed the back of Alfie, who was completely absorbed in his game. I could see bright colours flashing and reflecting in the pools of the boys eyes. As I tried to get the proto-type up, a slight silence fell on the table, save for Alfies rapid tapping, and the occasional sparkling-sound-effect from the game he had lost himself in.

“Well, I’m glad you like it.” I said with a small smile. “Thanks Ray.” He chuckled, moving his hand to the back of Alfies chair.

“Of course I do. You’ve always done great work for us, David. Worth every penny.” He said with a slight nod, his tone was warming and enthusiastic. I was suddenly excited to show him the new website, but the computer betrayed me. It began to load, and I sighed exasperatedly. Ray noticed.

“So How’s young Nicholas doing? You see him this weekend?” He asked with genuine curiosity, but I was so focused on the loading file, I barely heard him.

“Hm?” Oh, he’s great.” I said daring a look towards to Ray, and his eyes met me. They were focused, but caring. “Yeah, he came round on Saturday.” I said, allowing myself to relax, and lean away as the progress bar slowly filled up. “Yeah, I tried to get him to go biking around park with me, but, uh, he wasn’t interested.” I said with a forced chuckle. “Yeah…all he wanted to do was play video-games. I even offered him a fiver to tempt him to come out, but well…he’s as stubborn as his mother.” I said, smiling tightly. Ray laughed. I felt my eyes dropped as I remembered the day, like looking through a window at my life, unable to be heard or to alter the course of the past, and I felt a solemn cloud flow through my body, but was brought back as the screen ahead of me flashed. The website was up. I opened my mouth to tell him, but as I did, the phone in Alfies hands began to vibrate, and he pulled a look of surprise as the game was forcibly closed. Ray leaned over with curiosity, and quickly grabbed the phone out of his sons hands. He squinted at it, trying to read the name of the caller with his ageing eyes.

“Uh oh.” He said over-dramatically. “Let me take this David, I’ll be with you in a couple minutes.” He stood up briskly and brought the phone to his ear, and wandered off towards the toilets. I followed him with my eyes, a feeling of stagnant excitement in my chest. I glanced at Alfie, who leaned on a hand, eyes looking down at the table, before darting back to meet me. I was taken aback by how much he made me miss Nick. I smiled at him, and quickly turned back to look at my screen. The proto-type was all finished, but I double-checked the settings to make sure it was perfect, and completely presentable. I clicked and typed almost idly, but I couldn’t help but glance back at Alfie. He trailed the plastic table with his finger with a slight impatience, waiting for something to happen. I knew I had to break the silence.

“So…Alfie.” I asked, glancing slightly away from my screen again. He didn’t look up. “How’s school?” I asked, as sweet as I could, but for a while I thought he wasn’t going to say anything. Instead he sighed, with a level of over-dramatisation that could only summoned by a bored child.

“It’s okay, I guess.”  His finger began to move quicker on the surface.

“Yeah?” I asked, as enthusiastically as I could. “You like it?” In response he scrunched up his face and shrugged. I chuckled.

“You know, I have a son about your age.” I said, again, trying to sound bright and pleasant. “He doesn’t like school either.” I turned to him, with a broad smile. Alfie didn’t respond. Instead, he slowly turned his head, still in his hand, towards where his father stood, still on the phone, but gesticulating wildly. I turned to watch him too, and I knew we were both hoping he would finish his call soon, but instead the minutes rolled by. I turned in time to see Ray walking out the entrance, still on the phone and gesturing. Probably to get better signal, I didn’t think much of it.

The time crawled on closer to lunch, and more and more people began entering the food-court. Families, friends, people alone. The chatter and noise began to rise steadily. The man who had been devouring his food when I arrived had begun to play on his phone, but when he noticed the surge in population, he began to neatly tidy his tray and got up to leave. I watched him idly, glancing back towards where Ray was, hoping he would return. Alfie had resorted now to people watching, leaning forward and resting his chin on his arm. I thought about what else I could ask an eight-year old, but I came up dry. I doubt he was interested in his father’s business or website. I breathed in deeply and returned to my screen. Now would be a good time to finish that email, I thought. My eyes glanced back at where the man had been sitting, and I saw a black lump on the chair. I turned round quickly to see where he had gotten to, and he ambled off towards the toilets. I quickly got up, and Alfie turned to watch me with interest. I strode towards the seat, and I identified the black lump as his leather wallet. I quickly grabbed it, and suddenly sensitive to the idea that someone might have seen me pick it up and assume I was a snatcher, I called out to him, but he was still wearing headphones. As he strode to the toilet, I saw him reach behind and pat at his back pocket, then with both hands, and I watched the panic course through him, as he turned round to where he was sitting. I held the wallet up and waved slightly, and he relaxed, and walked towards me. I handed him his wallet and he thanked me, and I smiled brightly and told him it was no problem, enjoying that signature feeling of light you only receive when you help someone. He quickly turned back towards the toilet, and I returned to an empty table.

It took me a second to register that something was odd. I looked at Alfies seat, then I checked under the table, then I checked towards the exit Ray had left through. He was nowhere. Electricity tore through my body, and I whipped my head round wildly. He was gone.

“Alfie?” I called out, loud enough not to disturb anyone, but enough to convey an authoritative tone, should he be in hearing range. I stood up, trying to get a better view. I span around. He wasn’t here. He wasn’t in the food court. I felt something close to a hand grab my lungs and squeeze. My thoughts evaporated into mist. I turned to a table close by, where three young women gossiped wildly.

“Excuse me.” I asked, trying to cut into the conversation. “Excuse me, have you seen a little boy walk past? Did you see where he went?” I asked, loud enough to cut through their wall of nonsense-talk. They looked at me in complete surprise and one of them shook their head. I cursed, and moved quickly. I knew my laptop and bag were still on the table. “Alfie?” I called out again. I turned to the exit that Ray had gone through. I had to grab him, but as I did, something caught my peripheral. A young boy by himself, descending on the escalator. I turned instantly. “Alfie!” I called out, loud enough for the whole food court to hear me. The people behind him on the electric staircase turned, but he didn’t. I rushed towards it, but as I got to the top, he was off on the floor below, and moved with purpose. Not fast, but fast enough. I began to push through the people in front of me, hastily asking them to excuse me. I couldn’t believe that none of the people who heard me shout had failed to connect the dots, but they stood impassively, happy to watch the spectacle, but too anxious to get involved.

By the time I got to the same floor, I spun around wildly. He was near here, he had to be. The crowds were building, and the world revolved around me like a malevolent carousel. I ran to a gift-shop, sure he would be pulled in by the bright-lights and sounds of gadgets and gizmos, but he wasn’t there. i spun again. Finally I saw him, he was running down the spiral staircase that cut through the middle of the mall. I called out again, and ran to the staircase. He was descending quickly. It lead to the bottom floor, and as I did I pulled out my phone. I think i tried to call Ray, but I wasn’t really thinking anything. This boy was doing something, and I had to stop him, long before I found out what it was he was trying to pull.

I descended the stairs two at a time, pushing past confused onlookers. I tried to call him again but the words were lost in the ambient crowds and music. I had just gotten to the next floor by the time he was at the bottom, and he darted off. I called out, asked someone to stop him, but no-one did. It;s just not in the nature of a crowd to get involved. They were a school of fish, and I was the intrusive creature, and they watched me in panic chase after a boy who could have been my son, or a stranger, and the truth would only bring suspicion. I bolted down the stairs and into the endless stream of crowds. I headed forward, the same direction Alfie had gone, past busy bodies and slow walking obstacles. I shouted again, but each shout was quieter on the reverberation. Finally the crowd thinned, and once again he was nowhere to be found. I put my hands on my head. It wasn’t Nick, and yet something inside of me couldn’t differentiate between the two. For all intents and purposes, it wasn’t my son, but a son, and I had to find him.

I felt a surge of weary energy flow through me, sapping the fire out of my muscles, making me want to fall to the floor and give up. I could have just gone back to Ray and told him that his boy had run off, but I resisted, I fought against the surge, until finally, a flash of blue ahead caught my eye. Towards the fire exit at the back, where the shops ended and utilities began there was a disused unit. If memory serves it used to be an HMV before the chain collapsed. Now it was a skeleton, a hollow carcass draped in blue tarpaulin and yellow tape. It was a fair distance away, but I saw a tear in the tarp, and what appeared to be a tiny hand reaching through, to pull it back after it had flapped in the air. I took out immediately.  I didn’t call out this time, I knew he had gone somewhere he shouldn’t have, and I could only imagine further attention becoming a detriment. Instead I jogged in silent duty, my eyes were fixated on the tarp, hope had become the will to move, and I let it propel me to find my friends son.

I pulled the tarp aside, where the boy had entered, and ducked down and entered.

“Alfie?” I called out in a whisper. The disused shop was dark, too dark. I pulled my phone out to use it as illumination. I hadn’t received a call from Ray yet, so I assumed he was still on the phone. In my head I tried to play the conversation I would be having with him when I returned with Alfie, but I knew I needed to focus. Some of the old stands were still here, I remembered thumbing through comics and albums here after school. Mundane memories of old, but they were peaceful. I felt like I returned to somewhere very familiar, a muscle memory that only activated when I returned.

“Alfie?” I called out again, louder this time. There were tools everywhere on the floor, dirt and fragments of brick. I still couldn’t see him. I called out again. “Alfie.” I let the sternness in my voice take front and centre. “Come on now, we can’t be here. Let’s get you back to your dad.” I scanned the dark environment, but he didn’t come out. I stepped forward and felt something crack under my feet.

“Alfie. This isn’t funny. You can’t be here. You’re going to get into trouble.” I called out, my voice fighting with the simultaneous forces of authority and fear. I opened my mouth to call out again, when I heard the sound of an air current. Like wind, except we were inside a unit, inside a mall, on the underground level and built into a hill. The sound of wind was the last thing I expected, and yet, a gentle zephyr appeared to be coming from somewhere. I stood still, and tried to locate the source of the sound. I moved towards it and felt the chill, the breeze was an invitation towards something. I didn’t know if Alfie had followed the current, yet i followed it anyway. I was curious, and scared out of my mind.

I stalked past the empty shelves and tools, and I found the source. The back wall was missing, caved in with tools to leave a rough cavern entrance. I had known that before the hill had become our mall, there were chalk mines that webbed below it, abandoned decades ago and mostly collapsed. The moisture in my mouth completely evaporated. God only knew what Alfie would find in there. I tried to swallow, but my throat was tight, something stuck there and ached, but it didn’t matter. I needed to find Nick.

Alfie. His name was Alfie.

Cautiously I stepped through the entrance. The breeze grew and I felt the cold caress my clammy forehead. The light from my phone painted the rocky wall ahead of me with a sickly blue. I could hear my breathing rattling in my ears. I looked left, and then right. The passage to the left had collapsed and was swollen with rock and debris. That was good, I had a path to follow. I followed the pitch-black caverns, focused only on what was immediately ahead of me, my gaze fixed between the floor and the ceiling, which began to dip slightly. I ducked uncomfortably to get under it, and I followed as I could. Finally, I reached what I had dreaded; a forked path. I could head either right or left. I tried to look at the floor for any discernible evidence that Alfie had gone either way. Instead, I took a deeper breath, and I waited to feel the wind. It was coming from the left. That was where Alfie had gone, and so too did I.

I followed the dark tunnel, past old, almost rotten wood supports, and once again the ceiling began to dip. I was careful not to touch anything, I was determined not to make this my grave, but at one point the roof had dipped so far, I had to crawl on my hands and knees to pass. I thought I would be trapped, crushed under the weight of a building and a hill, compressed and entombed forever, but soon the air began to smell fresh again, and I saw the literal light at the end of the tunnel.

I emerged gratefully and stood on my own two legs, hardly able to comprehend the cavern I had just emerged to. I let my hand holding my phone drop below my waist. My mouth fell open. There was light coming from somewhere, but I wasn’t sure where. There was no hole in the ceiling, and in the centre there was a pool of water, that glistened in the mysterious light. I rubbed at my eye, just to make sure. I began to see the light had come from the walls, a kind of bio-luminescent plat seemed to hang on them, and glowed an alien blue. I could hear water trickling, and from somewhere above small streams and drops of water fell into the pool. There were patches of plants and moss, and as I surveyed the room, I could see there were a set of stone steps built into the side, that lead to some kind of platform above. From there, I could hear someone talking. My nerves shook my body, but still I ascended the steps. When I reached the final few, I saw two figures.

One was a small boy, with messy brown hair and two large brown flying-saucers for eyes. I found him, but he had found something else first. The other figure was stooped, in a black cloak, and a hood pulled over its head. It extended an arm towards Alfie, and its skin was ivory. Pale and thin, almost a skeletal creature. Something black was in its hand, and it offered it to Alfie, who stared at it with ample curiosity. Then his eyes darted to me in the background, and I could see they were now full of fear. Like a snake, the hooded figure immediately turned towards me. It looked like it should have been a woman, or had been one. Her skin was tight and dry, white as the light that reflected in Alfies eyes. Under the hood, she was wearing a mask. Black, with red lines that spider-webbed their way through the material. Under it her eyes were dark, but in the natural light of the cavern, they looked golden. I watched as her mouth twist into a snarl. Her sharp, yellow teeth glared at me, and in an instant, she turned back to Alfie. Whatever was in her hand, she forced it into his mouth. I yelled out, an incoherent cocktail of anger and fear, and rushed towards them. Alfie began to choke, and the vaguely feminine creature shifted to the side with elegance, almost like a dancer. Now her eyes stared at me, like the eyes of a golden hawk, and her meal had just been interrupted. I made straight for Alfie, I knew I knew I needed to make sure if he was okay or not before I beat the ever-loving hell out of this cavern-dwelling witch.

I rested his head on my arm and told him everything was going to be okay, but he choked in response. He was dying. There was a poison in his body. The witch just watched, fascinated. I tried to tell him he was fine, that he was going to be okay, but the words tore at my throat as they left. His eyes were so full of fear. Like he had only just woken up, and now he was in pain. Like he knew he was going to die. I held him, and I could feel my future self banging on that window, shouting at me what i should do, how I should save him, but I couldn’t think. There was a boy, only a little bit older than my son, and he was dying in my arms. I reached to hold his face, he wasn’t Alfie anymore. He was Nick, he was my dad, and I was the same as I always was.

Despite the pain, the fear, the water and the wind, I began to feel a surge of heat. Sudden, furious, and I jumped back out of instinct. Suddenly an inferno opened where Alfie was laying. The boy was now a mass of fire and thrashing limbs. His scream cut through the fabric of reality and sanity, a scream that turned the blood in my veins into mercury, cold and toxic. It shook my very bones and threatened to bring down the cavern. and I wished it would. I wished the scream was loud enough to wake me from this nightmare, that I would wake up at the table a few minutes before Ray arrived with his son, Alfie, but I was here. This was happening, it was real, and all I could do was watch until he stopped thrashing about. The scream died out until all I could hear was the tell-tale dripping of water that could only mean I wasn’t in hell, I was still in the cavern. Never had an object ever been so still as his body was there in that moment, but aside from his clothes, he was not charred or burnt. His skin was a ghostly grey, washed in ash. I kneeled next to him, and I went to touch his smoking face, but I was afraid he would fall apart like ash in my hand. I brushed his cheek gently, the cheek of an ash covered statue. I hovered my ear above his heart, and felt the scorch on my cheek, and was greeted only by silence. I turned back, my heart full of malice and hate, but the witch was no longer there.

I picked the boy up, ignoring the burning heat on my arms. His limbs were limp, hanging uselessly towards the floor. I descended the stairs carefully. Behind the pool, parallel to where I had entered, another door way stood. I hesitated, the burnt boy in my hands. I half-thought I should dunk him in the pool, but I didn’t. I needed to get him out of here and to his dad, then I needed a beer and to see my son. I stood towards the door, when i felt that breeze again, and followed instinctively. I walked slowly, suddenly exhausted, when there was a light ahead, and I moved towards it like an insect in summer. I had been walking for only a few minutes when I heard a noise coming from Alfie. Instantly I dropped to a knee, my heart beginning to swell with hope again. I whispered his name, and looked at him intently. It was light enough to see his ash-like skin was cracked. I held his head up, whispering his name again and again, in an attempt to bring him back to our world, but he didn’t. Instead the cracks began to grow, crevices and scratched out lines where his flesh used to be. Then the space in between the cracks began to move.

A piece of him, grey, white and speckled with black, began to move, almost like a creature. Then I saw it was a creature. It was a moth, the size of the palm of my hand, painted in skeletal colours of ash. It flapped its wings lazily. Soon others began to grow. The boy was turning into them. His charred clothes hit the floor, and suddenly Alfie was gone. Instead there were about a dozen of these moths. They began to flap their wings, hovering in the air, as if just awoken from hibernation. My eyes were wide open, and I felt two streams of water pour down my cheeks. My mouth was open in sheer disbelief. He had turned to ash, and transform into these creatures, and now they hovered in the marginal light. I reached out to one, and it landed on the back of my hand. I watched it twitch its wings, its antenna flickering the cool air. It was speckled with darkness, light and ash.

“Alfie?” I asked pathetically. The creature looked at me with dull, black eyes, and flicked its wings again, preparing to join its kin that were floating carelessly above. Then the cracks reappeared, ink in water, and it too began to flake, and suddenly it was ash on my hand. I watched in horror as the others did the same. In mid-flight, they turned to specks of dust and I watched as they drifted to the cold ground below. I tried to catch it in my hands, but most of the dust-of Alfie- fell to the floor. I sat and I wept, a desperate howl of a life lost, and a man who failed to be anything than what he was. This was the example I was leaving for Nick. This was what i had to live with.

After what could have been hours, or only minutes, I pulled myself up, a puppet on invisible strings. I had to tell Ray. I had to explain to him how I failed, how he lost his son, and how he had literally slipped through my fingers. I dredged towards the light, and through an entrance that lead to an opposite wall of the HMV. I trudged through the darkness and pushed the blue tarp hastily out of my way, as if it was the one who caused all of this. I was back, amidst the crowds of people, the living, the noise, the people. I saw Ray standing near the staircase, frantically talking on the phone. He looked worried sick. Finally he saw me, and jogged forwards, putting the phone away.

“David!” He called out. I marched forward, broken. I didn’t even try to imagine what i was going to tell him. “Where the hell have you been? Jesus, you look terrible.” He said frantically. “Where’s Alfie?” He said, looking around, and then back to me, expectantly. I thought I would be better stronger, but instead I grabbed him, and I cried. I cried and I apologised, weeping openly on his chest. he tried to ask me what I was apologising for, what the hell happened? Where did I go? I brought my face up, I tried to look him in the eye, but his gazed burned internally. I opened my mouth to speak one more time, when I was drowned out.

“Dad!” Alfie called out.

The little boy was running towards Ray, who brushed me off, and smiled at the boy with pure relief. I watched in horror, unable to comprehend just what had happened.

“Hey! Where have you been huh? Bet you made me and David worried sick, huh?” He clasped Alfie on the shoulder, and looked back at me reassuringly, trying to piece together just what had happened. I was silent. I was staring at him. It was impossible. No, it was good. it was fantastic. I had dreamt it. My mind had created a twisted tale of fire, ash and moths, dancing in artificial light. I just kept staring at him. It had felt so real. Ray told me he had to get Alfie to the orthodontist, but to look after myself, and get back to him by email. I didn’t say anything. I watched the boy as his father grabbed his hand, and the two walked to the exit. Ray didn’t look back, but Alfie did, and in the glow of the artificial, those two boyish eyes of his shined golden.


This was based on a dream my Dad had told me about, while I embellished parts of it for a story, it’s definitely stuck with him in the months since. What do you think it means? Let’s talk about it!

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