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Paspalum

RHYS SAGE | CREATIVES



I don’t understand.


The fact that dreams are treated as if they are unimportant. Treated like trivial pieces of fantasy that are merely an entertainment show to pass the time between the closing of eyes and their inevitable opening. Which is fine.


People are entitled to their opinions, or so I’m told. But just because something is a dream doesn’t mean it’s meaningless, maybe it’s meaningless now but it won’t be in the future. We’ve all had that teacher telling us never to make our creative writing stories dreams because it ‘dilutes’ the meaning of a piece – maybe the meaning of the piece is that it was a dream.


So let me be clear, this is a dream. Or it was. Maybe it’s both real and a dream.


I don’t remember when my eyes closed or when they opened, but it happened and I awoke in a state of dreaming. It’s like walking in a fog and watching the fog taking shapes and forms that arise from your thoughts – from your feelings. However, sometimes it’s so real, it feels like real touch, tastes like real air, sounds like real wind, smells like real roses.


So who’s to say it isn’t real. You? Me?


It felt like falling and falling and falling. It was falling. Grey-blue dream fog clinging to my hands, almost like I could grasp it – like I could hold it.


Shapes took form, from fog to shadows to shapes and finally to wood – the wood of a ceiling. It was old and reminded me of roses, wooden grain shaped like rosy thorns and twisted vines, a soothing reminder that the Rose family owned this house. I wouldn’t find out until later but this house was the house my mother and her family stayed at right after they left my grandfather – the flames of the incinerator still singed into their memories.


There was a girl, she was laying next to me looking at the rosy wooden ceiling. She looked just like my mother when she was a child – exactly the same as she had in the picture Nana kept on the mantelpiece. We were in a child’s room – Mother’s – the noises outside creeping in, the rubbing of wood, the sound of whispered grunting and of soft breathing.


She stood up and started boarding up the windows, this echo of my mother, soundless nails being hammered into soundless wood. What an odd sight, seeing a young girl hammering nails into boards over windows, blocking out the world, blocking out the sounds. She turned and smiled at me, it was so soft and childish – the way a child’s face lights up when they find an old toy.


She pointed to the door. Telling me to leave. Everything oddly soundless.


I followed her demand, and left the house. I suppose I knew that I couldn’t refuse. I had a part to play in this scene and I would act it out.


The door led to an ocean of paspalum that spewed out from the foot of the house and continued until it fell like a river off the hill. My mother would tell me in the days to come, that the hill would lead to the motorway and that the paspalum used to seem so grey in the night-time – just the way she liked it. Amongst the paspalum stood a man, the only part of this foggy night dream that stood out clear – cutting against the flowing ocean around him.


I didn’t know this initially but supposedly there’s a reason we can’t understand language when we’re dreaming. They think it’s because the parts of your brain responsible for comprehension, like the Broca’s and Wernicke’s area, are less active. Like sleep represses the need for comprehension – language is futile in such a state.


This apparently makes reading, writing, and understanding speech difficult in a dreaming state. And I suppose that’s why this man’s voice was odd. It didn’t work like reality – didn’t feel real, more surreal and absurd.


His voice came in jagged lines.


Etching sharp edges into the fog.


Disrupting the serene calm of that field.


But he was beautiful. His hair was brown, and curled into soft waves and spirals around his face, framing his eyes. It’s always the eyes isn’t it?


They were a dark brown, so deep and hard it reminded me of coal. At least that’s what I remember thinking. These two deep coal eyes sheltered in a tanned face – everything about this man was sharp.


His eyes. His jaw. His lips.


Even his clothing. Levi’s black denim jeans, worn from constant use and torn tastefully at the knees and a simple grey shirt covered in a leather jacket that hugged his body. I don’t know how I knew the jeans were Levi’s, but I’m pretty sure that they just made sense – at this point in history Levi’s jeans were the fashion.


I looked at him and him at me – eyes trying to bore through my skull and into my head. He oddly reminded me of someone, a person I couldn’t quite name. His sharp eyes gave away a simple fact – he wanted something, and wanting is dangerous.


He held his hand out for me, tanned skin against his black nail polish – I’ve always had a thing for men with nail polish. It was a dream so I thought, fuck it, I don’t mind dying in my mind or even if something else entirely happened. Maybe it was one of those dreams, the ones we try very hard not to talk about…


So my dumbass took his hand and let him lead me away to the crest of the hill, the paspalum swaying slightly in the dreamlike wind. We sat right there, where the paspalum fell down the steep hill – rippling waves gliding gently down the slope. Paspalum like hands reaching up, reaching for the sky, for the stars.


It was calm for a moment, sitting on that hill of paspalum. My soundless muse whispered soft comfort or maybe it was his body – a sense of ease and a release of tension. Like everything sweet, it was bound to end.


I rested my head upon the man’s shoulder, feeling weary – a tiredness that sunk into my bones and from there into my spirit. He felt so real, his hand calloused and rough under mine and his body shifted with the weight of breathing. There was a sharpness to his touch – one that I can’t quite explain.


Like sadness.


Like desire.


Like a memory.


He turned to me and suddenly all I could see was his eyes – his gaze so heavy. Heavy enough to pin me down. Heavy enough to drown in.


He pushed me down, a force that I couldn’t withstand, that I couldn’t refuse. All I could do was gaze back into those eyes. Looking past the coal and the earth into the green that lingered beneath – his eyes reflected the moonlight.


They were the forest. They were smothering. They were everything.


I was pressed down by the weight of his body – that all-encompassing weight that separates the earth from the sky. There’s a fear that comes with that sort of weight, but there’s also a thrill, an excitement. I wanted for nothing more.


He kissed my lips. He kissed my neck. He left jagged lines across my skin.


I felt excited.


I felt desired.


I felt scared.


Rose. Paspalum. Knife.


Afraid of him, but mostly of myself – of the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to stop. I knew deep down that I needed to stop him, to stop myself. I knew if I continued that he would consume me, that I would cease to exist.


This man was a blade, a knife held to my throat cutting slightly into that tender flesh in a threat. He was so sharp he would tear me to pieces, then move on to the next person without any remorse. I was wood to a whittler's knife.


He didn’t want me. This wasn’t real. This was as real as you or me.


I didn’t want to be cut into a thousand pieces – my spirit refused to die. I struggled with all my might. All I could see were cutting coal eyes – no longer any hints of the forest beneath.


There was no man. There was no paspalum. There was no rosewood.

I was. I am. I will be.


Nothing.


But I was torn from my dreaming thoughts – by a snarl, a hiss. My black cat standing at my feet, forest green eyes meeting mine – a moment of clarity.

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