How many stories begin with the words, last night I had a dream?
Recently I’ve been having dreams that are so real I wake already tired as I start the day. But most fade into a distant haze as I get up. A vague memory you can’t quite grasp.
Last night I had a dream that has made me want to write it down, an all too rare occurrence these days, a desire to write strong enough to get me out of bed at 5 a.m. to find my laptop.
I was driving, along a road I know reasonably well and it was getting dark.
Suddenly I was aware of shadows in front of me, flitting silently in the dusk.
Kids on bikes, out too late with no lights on, I slowed down as they wove a dangerous path. I stopped as I reached a junction, a bus swung round the corner. Most bikes sped on their way but the driver of the bus hadn’t seen them all in the dark, he clipped the final one, the bike ended on its side, a child tumbled to the ground in front of me.
Our eyes met, although he was a shadow child with no whites to his eyes. He picked up a helmet that I have no memory of him wearing before, he placed it on his head and there were no straps to secure it. He was aware he needed it, remembered some warning he was told long ago but he arose unscathed and rode off to join his friends as if nothing had happened.
There are lights at that junction and they must have turned green because it was my turn to go. The bus had disappeared ahead of me but I soon caught up to the bikes again, weaving as carelessly as before, accident forgotten.
I slowed but the car behind me wasn’t so patient, he never caused an accident but I was aware how dangerously close he followed. I was almost as if he’d not seen me.
Did the shadow child turn round and glare?
The dream shifted gear, I woke up and maybe I would have turned over and gone back to sleep, 4:44 is far too early! But inevitably I needed a wee.
As I climbed back into bed and pulled the covers around me it struck me what was really bothering me about the dream.
There were no lights, I’m guessing there was moonlight or something to create the shadows, but there was no red or green glow from the traffic lights, no glare of headlights from the other vehicles on the road.
The car behind me failed to see me in the dark, in the same way I struggled to see the shadows in front of me.
I was driving a dangerous path with no lights on. And I was not the only one.
Was this really just a dream?
Or a warning from the shadow child?