It took her a while to know again who she was. That was because she was sleeping and names aren’t needed in dreams.

Her name is Loveday. She was named after the street where she was born. She shortened it to Daisy, but she had never felt it belonged to her. Luke shortened it to Lovely. She liked that. Who wouldn’t? It sounded so nice and warm when he said it.

His name doesn’t matter anymore. It’s just something to write on a headstone. If he even has one.

She has been searching for him in her sleep every night. He is Luke, the sweet boy she had loved long ago. Her whole life she has never forgotten him. And now he looks just the same as he did back then. He knew when she started to look for him, but it had taken him a long time to reach her. They are both still a little confused about how they did it or where they are now but it’s all oddly familiar. She has decided to question nothing. In her dream they reminisce, observe, regret, celebrate, miss things, have opinions, wander, laugh, share their love and shed tears and they haven’t discovered everything yet.

‘I suppose we’ll have to move on eventually, but I can’t see where we should go,’ she said, taking his hand.

She was surprised his hand still felt alive to her touch. He felt the same as he always had as he leaned against her. She rubbed his palm, running her finger across the generous Mount of Venus at the base of his thumb. She looked at the lifeline that crossed his palm and recalled that it wasn’t the first time she had noticed it was shorter than hers.

He gripped her hand firmly. ‘I’m happy to be stuck here. If we move on, we might lose each other. We might cease to exist as ourselves. We might not exist at all. Have you thought of that? It’s not like getting up and catching a train and knowing your destination.’

‘No.’ She held his hand in both of hers now, for safety. ‘That’s a scary thought. I don’t like thinking about it.’ She paused. ‘Do you think everyone who dies is still around somewhere?’

Luke shrugged. ‘I don’t know. And I don’t really care. Maybe they didn’t wait around. I’ve waited around for you, I think. It’s made me feel alive. But perhaps the dead can dream in their coffins, and this is all only a dream we’re sharing.’

‘I don’t want to wake up. But I’m sure I’m not in a coffin. I remember going to bed.’ She was sure she was only asleep.

Luke smiled. ‘I’m dead. That’s certain. Though I can’t see my coffin walls anymore. I’m sure I’m usually up in the open air somewhere now. I think I’m still real. I feel as if I’m alive. But I might not be here at all if you didn’t dream of me. I wonder if I will ever understand what death is.’

‘Maybe we could catch a train if I believe we can, and if this is all only a dream?’

‘If that’s what you really want to do you have to promise never to let go of me if we enter the tunnel. And don’t wake up, Lovely. Please don’t wake up. If you wake you’ll be gone again.’

‘I promise. I won’t wake up.’

A chill breeze made the autumn leaves swirl around their feet.

‘We could stay here longer couldn’t we?’ he said, putting an arm around her. ‘I should never have mentioned the trains. It was always better arriving than it was departing.’

‘Yes, and it’s such a lovely, brisk, sunny day. Let’s just stay here a while. I don’t mind the cold. Let’s watch the people passing by like we used to, and we can visit some of our favourite places before we go.’

He nodded. ‘Whatever you like. You decide. I’ve lost all sense of time.’


Sad City

The buildings in that part of town had seen better days. The white paint was peeling from classical porticos, the concrete steps were stained, the tall sash windows needed fresh paint and the curtains that hung limp behind them were worn and in need of a wash. If they were washed, they might fall apart. The trees at the edge of the pavement, too closely hemmed in tried to push up the slabs. I notice a dandelion thrusting its way through a crack by the wall. That made me smile for a moment, but the mood didn’t last. 

I turned and walked into a shabby little park with sparse grass and bare stunted trees. Then I saw her; a misplaced middle aged fairy-tale geisha in a long, fitted, brocade dress that had once been the colour of dark jewels but was now faded and made me think of thick dust. She took small hesitant steps. Her hair was up, piled on her head. Her delicate oriental face and her fragile neck were beautiful but outlined by deeply imbedded smoky grey grime.

I imagined her room in one of those houses, feeling sure she lived alone with her old treasures. I couldn’t imagine her cleaning her room. Why would she bother?

I would have liked to invite her to tea, with full ceremony and grace, but I didn’t approach. I was young then. She must have died long ago.