father

The King of Friday Night

I had to meet my father in the city centre, and I couldn't rely on the buses, so I ran, and very quickly running normally (which is so SLOW) turned into running on all fours, one of my most frequent recurring dreams. I relax quickly into the steady lope of a wolf, but now and again to get around people I display a primate's agility, running halfway up walls, swinging around lampposts, jumping over obstacles and onto rooves.

Running turns into gliding when the wind picks up, and I let myself drift down streets carried by the air. Sometimes gusts pick me up, and one of them flings me sixty feet in the air, panicking me a little, but it drops me gently again. Then back to running when I hit the city centre, the dense claustrophobic lamplit streets. It's Friday night in Dublin and I'm running through an exaggerated version of Temple Bar, massive cobbled streets and back alley networks stretching for miles and filled with drunks and students and goths and even families wandering around trying to find a way to get their children home safely.

Running on all four speeds up my journey and fills me with euphoria, but the drawback is that it draws everyone's attention, making me feel mildly embarrassed and them either curious or threatened. At least, that's how I explain the fact that Liam Gallagher, on seeing me run past him like this, turns around and yells at me, then gives chase, followed behind by his two massive bouncers. He outpaces them and follows me down a long alleyway, and I stop and turn around and without any explanation he tries to punch me when he catches up to me, a strange kind of joy in his face. I grab his arm and twist it behind his back, hold him for a moment and then shove him away, hoping he gets the message. He doesn't. He tries to punch me again and I grab his arm again and put him in an armlock, then grab his other arm, twist them over each other and flip him on his back and hold him there. Notably, I haven't said anything this entire time; I'm not sure I can speak in this dream. Liam looks up at me with a savage grin and says "Man...you're the KING OF FRIDAY NIGHT!!" He's happy to be fairly bested in the drunken macho ritual of his mind. The bouncers arrive, huffing and puffing, and I run off again.

Without finding my father, I realize that I have to go home again. My mother and my grandmother are waiting for a birthday party - whose, I don't know, but it's after midnight and there are no buses (and I don't even know what bus to get) so I start running again. The urgency is greater and so are the risks I take - running across rooftops, diving through windows, impossible gliding leaps. I run through the Irish government buildings to a far door and when I open it I'm out into the Phoenix Park, which is full of teenagers, an entire side of a hill covered with them smoking, flying kites, sleeping, cuddling. There's a young guy in a wingsuit gliding high in the air, but then he loses control and crashes fifty feet down into the grass. I'm concerned briefly, but he bounces up again. I carry on.

The Phoenix park darkens and becomes Cabinteely Park, and I'm getting closer, always getting closer. I jump over a gorge and the earth on the other side rises up suddenly to become a cliff, and I have to climb, digging my fingers and toes into the stone. I'm nearly there, nearly there.

My Collapsing Head

I owned an enormous apartment in the penthouse of a tall building in the centre of a city which was an amalgam of London and Berlin. There were several bedrooms with double beds and silk sheets, and a huge living-space with marble floors which extended around a central room. I had been throwing a party for old school friends and acquaintances, and everyone was crashing out now in the beds. F was there, and we had some kind of brief, animated conversation with waving of hands and laughter, and I remember being happy that we could still get on well together.

An old schoolmate was there who had actually killed himself with a shotgun when he was 15, but this didn't appear strange to me; I just became suspicious when I saw him moving the Xbox out of the main room, because I suspected he was stealing it, so I followed him into the bedroom he was bringing it to and asked him what he was doing. He got a dull, haunted look in his eyes as he explained that he just wanted to get on to Xbox Live, and I saw that this was the room with the modem in it. I felt a little guilty for assuming he was thieving, since he obviously knew what I was thinking.

When I left the room, I noticed something a little strange about my head. My forehead felt strange. I found a mirror and was shocked to see that my "forehead bone" had become displaced and was moving around my face, making it misshapen. I thought, "Oh Christ, I've punched myself in the head too many times and this time I've done some real damage, I'm so stupid." I pushed it back into place with my fingers, and it slotted back in painfully and slowly, with a horrible feeling in my face of it sliding around under my skin. I was in a mild panic, and I decided I had to find a doctor. I ran out of the apartment and found some strangers and said "I need a doctor...please help me..."

The next thing I knew I was being examined by two doctors in a surgery. They were fascinated by my dislocated forehead, and they decided it had to be replaced by a prosthetic. While they were in the process of removing the old forehead bone (for some reason I was awake and calm during this procedure) they discovered another thing that interested them - my entire upper jaw had been replaced by an "orthodontic plate". I remembered that this had been done years before when my jaw disintegrated, and I'd forgotten about it. The doctors moved the pieces of my head around like a jigsaw and put me back together.

I went back to the apartment afterwards to find Jo and explain what had happened, because I'd been out all night, and I thought she might think I was out cheating on her. When I got back she told me that she knew what had happened, and she looked at me with deep concern, because the work hadn't taken properly yet. I looked in the mirror again and saw that the prosthetic forehead protruded at the sides and that my eyesockets were in the wrong places, preventing me from seeing properly. I tried to manipulate everything back into place, but it had all become plastic and my face kept morphing away from anything recognizable. My nose grew and shrank, my eyes moved around and even my skin tone changed.

All of a sudden my face turned into my father's face. It was his complete likeness, and I thought "OK, this is possible because genetically I have my father in me." I spoke to Jo, and my voice was my father's voice too. Then a little more manipulation and I changed again. At one point I looked like myself again and there was a sense of relief, but I knew that at any moment it could change again; that what was holding my face together was very fragile. I was trying to think through the implications of this when I woke up.

Lost We

be with me now. in voice. broken overruled. help to lift me skywards, lady. arms like music box dancer, poised like ballerina. pink and blue gauze ballgown, costume jewel tiara, lipstick smile and pale skin. music to dance to until we die. on a desk in my sister's bedroom one morning, thin summer light through single glazed window. brass window fasteners twisted to open, dusty windows never cleaned, cracked from tennis ball impacts. how we leaned out and looked over the gardens and the hedges to somewhere distant. our enclosed world. bookshelves and drawers and wardrobes crammed full of memory. accumulated possessions of 15 years emptied one day. our home, full of sunshine and voices, full of waking nightmares. we walked the carpets in the small hours trailing dreams from our fingertips. our skin and our smell we left in the corners untouched by cleaning. I am a small child lost in a red crystal. I am a man waiting for a small child to descend from the overworld. I am a boy lost in his own cold bones outside an empty dark school waiting for a man to come and bring him home. I am an old man trying to remember his father's face. lost moments strung together on a tattered string. lady, be with me now. let me live in the song you lift to the sky. your arms and eyes darken and you teach me about the sea. one day I said that I would learn how to swim. that I would swim the broken sea of my parents' dreams. let this story fall from me now. I am of the sky and the waves and the stars, if you will bless it to be so.

--

lost we reach for words. lost we. only for moments crushed. how blurred horizon breeds cloud ghosts, blurred vision like rainwater window, songs for sliding down. how in panicked sparks sunlight cuts into the mind. naming evanescences in amnesiac time, in time of perfect garden, age of gold, names given again for new beginnings. meaning emerging from chaos birthsack. love from eyes. horizon of sisters and brothers and lost toys, lost books, lost living brightness. friends poised invisible under weeping willow, unable to cross the water. lady wreathed in smoke stepping through puddles that do not touch her skin. soaked earth yielding fruit and footprints, lunar memories, a future death plummeting back through time.

--

touched by voices and listened to by light, we transmigrate. these are your windows and doors, winter-chilly and smudged with tears and hope. doors in the dark, doors in the day, doors along an endless corridor of what may be. that window you flew out of in your mind every night. rising through tortured cloud giants. purple starfield and streetlight glow. naked temples flattened and opened like unpeeled tesseracts into streets and houses and staircases. mother and father embracing underneath the black gates like forgiven titans. sister and brother hand in hand under petrified glittering forest, canopy of silk and birdflight, music of absolution. memories of other planets, washed down through new mind as over waterfall in tiny urban park. where as a child you stand and sing, lady. where you stand and sing us all to wake again.

Mama Kali

Mother, let's begin.
    Ramakrishna swooned at your feet
drowned in black wines, and you lapped
at his wounds
tenderly, like a cat with the runt of the litter
raw and trembling and wet and sightless
he was lost in spiritual darkness
a cave opening up and singing endless -
endless space, endless cold, endless heat
and endless unmarked time
    falling like Alice
into the mind-rock, the heart-chamber
the hollow earth

We've been waiting here for years
for you finally to give birth
we are brothers and sisters of primordial forest
snuggled lightless among roots and ferns
sometimes the air is sweet and thick with rain
sometimes the sky crumbles and burns
Mother,
    did you
        leave us behind?
Or did we simply go blind
and deaf and dumb, amnesiacs running
as if in a nightmare, and was it you
chasing us after all, was it you
carrying us when we slept?
What we thought were rivers and seas
or the arms of another,
was that really you all along, Mother?

(We're having trouble with father)
(he's been angry for thousands of years)
(and he refuses to forgive us our sins)
but Mother, we are who we are
we are as we were made
we won't lie any more
please love us as you made us

Mother, here are garlands and pinches of herbs
here are fruits and young leaves and seeds
here are incense sticks and sugar cubes
and oils and soaps and -
this is a picture of you, Mother, this is a statue -
- do you like them?
  - do you forgive us?
    - will you come home?

Mother, there are skeletons with scythes
dancing in the valley where we buried daddy
when the blood-rage finally ate his heart
and babies are growing there among the weeds
and the skeletons are black-boned and giggly
and they lop! the babies' heads off
as they sprout through the spring soil
and shot into our graves like a bullet from a groin
we are your sown seeds and dad's death-harvest

Mother, what we wished for never came,
and it was you, it was you -
here are milk sweets, here is rice and wine -
the offerings rot in the bowls year after year
and you tell us that you never left?
Mother, have we been insane all our lives?
Mother, is this not the real world at all?

Mother, did you travel through my dreams?
Were you the virgin girl with painted fingers
who kissed me after the car wreck?
Were you my guide in the ancestral asylum
walking through tableaus of genetic ritual
with my small hand
            in yours
                    did we
say goodbye to daddy sweating before the pig ovens
did we fall deep into the black together?
Did you stand up in the shallows and brush
sand from a waterlogged dress,
and tell me that I had no name?

Mother, can we unravel time and bless
all past mistakes? Can you tell me why
you didn't name me?
when I've stood alone in a thousand dark gardens
and begged to be consumed by starfire
Didn't you hear me? Didn't you believe me?
Where have you BEEN?

Mother, they are laid out on the plain, 6 bodies deep
in blood lit by lightning from converging hurricanes
and in the dead armies I see your stamping feet
I see your arms stirring the clouds and your eyes insane
I hear you laugh and scream and your anklets ring
as you crush your children and drink blood and sing

this is the unstoppable black universe of you

and only I am left alive
and I am no-one
the war was death
and now the dance is death
but Mother, Mother, at last
you are here, at least
you are beautiful
 

Choirboy

I was a choirboy where the light
crept through windows stained sacred
in a cold chapel, and I sang from my throat
raw from crying over homework, forgotten toys,
a memory of death floating back through time,
I sang from my blood and no other world
had ever been so holy.

It was so cold out there on the school steps -
I pulled up my hood and sank deep into myself
travelling through my tissues, I dreamed
forwards and backwards in time,
and it could have been half an hour or three hours
or three years
as a rock in the shape of a boy
before a priest came to rescue me,
his cold blue eyes confused when he recognized me -
he'd always thought I was cocky, aristocratic,
not a helpless thing too stupid to call his father,
wandering in imaginary worlds that might never be,
how I sang in my veins to be free.

Every leaf and breath and star and voice was perfect,
lost in time like me, and I sang for the sun
into dusk, the sun tearing wounds in the sky, savage
and desperate to send me to bed. My mother's voice.
Bed the universe, body the living god, pulsing in darkness.

I am not human, have never been human,
something singing and laughing in the skin
and the blood and the bone and the dream.

The City of Ghosts

no way out of the city of ghosts
mum and dad are asleep alone together in a burning bedroom
she always wanted her words to fly up to heaven
this firestorm is her revenge for every cold cup of tea
every plea unlistened-to
she had the rotten teeth pulled from her jaws
and replaced by beads of poisonous metal
while he worked late at the office to pay for this transformation
a red brick building on the quays staffed by wraiths and ghouls
and he himself was a golem animated by parental sorcery
unbowed and polished by two thousand years of storms
heartless and beautiful and vampirically cold

their carpet becomes a lake of blood and bile
upon which their bed-raft floats
as they cling to the ancestral photo albums
and mutter their own names against a tide of amnesia
citizens of a republic of isolated house-states
with language abolished by referendum
we worship instead at the church of the repeated image
we have built a self-repairing machine
our bookshelves come to life and chant mantras as Gaeilge
our rooves sigh and slide gently away to reveal unnaturally dark clouds
Dublin turns black as the stars cough up eons of cigarette ash
and the sun itself swells and prepares to inhale us

mother and father have forgotten why they had children
maybe it was because they were cold and wanted to get warm
when they reached for each other they annihilated two universes,
set the bed adrift on a bloody sea,
and here we are, babies with gills and crimson irises
foreigners in our own country and strangers to each other
the hosts of the unborn are gathering beyond the veil
ready for the puncture when it happens
when ma and da finally die
and the kids' memories come crashing back
through lost lifetimes like meteorites of archetypes
through cloudbank and starlight

we will know who we are
when the cafes serve only haemoglobin from living veins
when cars wake up and start eating people
we will know who we are
when every door leads to another world
a wilderness of Narnias in the wardrobes and hallways of the ghost city
when the statues in the churches come to life
and herd the wailing faithful to the altars for sacrifice
when the government closes its doors and settles its affairs
and the TDs take cyanide on the orders of their leader
we will know who we are
when materialism is known for what it truly is
the acceleration of the birth of a glorious but inhuman deity

it may be true that we are killing ourselves
our obsession with ingesting poisons, our love of weaponry
all this is legendary in the houses of spirit
but like the man said, what is man
but a bridge over an abyss
we are not the naked monkey in the marital bed
the monkey lost and shivering under unforgiving stars
we are not the ghosts in the city windows
and mammy and daddy will one day remember
that they always loved each other
and the unborn will come crashing through time
in endless lines through endless doors opening to one room

until I knew you I did not know myself
says each reflection to each face

For The Last Time

For the last time, the last time
I will not remember what they said
on the television between the exploding stars
and the million miles asleep in midnight red
I will not seem angry
when my friends neither live nor die
but freeze in a smile and a moment
like loved characters in their final episode

not because there was no more time
but because in my dreaming mind
I wandered, and left them behind

this is no voice speaking
rain of flower shades in blindness
just the sound of it behind cafe windows
the colours flushed from the streetlights
and birds burning and singing on the wires

it all goes wrong when I try to talk about myself
so I will talk about everything else
except that there's this question, "who's talking?"
"Who's singing, who's burning, who's sad?"

Who misses their nonexistent friends
who laments their long-distant dad
and the long-distance chats
sizzling along dark wires
and the moist fresh-dug graves of beloved cats
hissing with rain or vampire hostility
and can cats become vampires anyway
or can humans - reality and fantasy
are not much different for me these days

like the one about the beautiful killer
with the power to share his destiny
and of course he would choose me
and I would not care about killing
if only I could be beautiful and immortal too

surely it can't be time to review my life again
and all the crumbling myths I built
how are they still there, how am I the same?
how can I not have changed into something
extraordinary and entirely different?

bless me to let go of these stories
that never belonged to me
nothing glows like nothingness
and I have a weird craving for the womb
no, not even the womb - just pure emptiness
endless space without even one sparkling star
just an abyss without a face or a name
and finally I'd know that awareness
that they say extends beyond both ends of this life

wine from old arteries in a singing glass
images and feelings torn loose from narrative
here is a bottomless sea and a roofless house
no meaning, no weapons, no voices
and a yellow wind from below the horizon
and I will be made ashes in the furnace of the sun

Bone Ghost

my dad looks like a tree, wooden and pretty, alive but in a different way from me, hard to understand, maybe nothing to understand, just how trees grow and stiffen and start to rot, nothing to show for it until one day the heart is eaten all away and a strong wind snaps the trunk like old bone. if I was old, how would you see me? bitten to the quick like a nail. dried and crumpled like a fish going off in the sun. helpless like a worm on concrete. would my eyes be bright to you, would you love how I moved, would you think of it as a soul, the silent wave making me move until the last second. some of us don't like the sea, the endless dark pulse, the endless enormous life.

robot ghost dances in my bones, curves into the air and the roads leading away from every doorstep and every embrace. running knives in hand across the battlefield of every meeting and every dream. fused into the marrow with music, pulled into the future by the gravity of what i was born to be. alive on a membrane between this world and the next, the book and the reader, the dream and the dreamer. the ghost and i are both sure we're real and when i finally rip him out of my flesh and we see each other someone's universe is going to disappear and the murder of every living thing in it and the loss of every memory and every sound and the nothingness of every detail of every dance and every shining light

mother brightened me in the mornings. used to climb into her bed to read about dinosaurs and volcanoes and when she woke I'd listen to the water in the pipes above the bedroom ceiling when she washed her face in the pastel bathroom. everything was a story and i was always the hero and the light in her face when she looked at me told me it was true. nothing would ever be impossible for me, i would live forever and everyone would love me because i was the hero. sunlight through the curtains in those mornings was golden and i waited for her to wake. stories wove themselves in my mind and everything dark and fearful died in the shine of what was inside me, an answer to her call, an inner sun to her hungry moon. tell and retell the story and its lines become engraved too deep, the dance goes stale, the face becomes a mask and the sun a nova, a magnesium wick, and the hero a destroyer. now my mind sinks inwards through layers of tissue and sinew and nerve and finds no core. there is no ghost dancing in my bones. there is no person i was supposed to be. all the heroes have been kindling for a cold fire burning atoms into dreams.

In The Country

I was in a large complex building very like the Leeds University Students Union, but as with all my dreams it had many more rooms and passageways and wasn't exactly like any building I'd ever been in. I'd just decided, after a lot of agonizing, to quit studying there, but I was still hanging around the campus for another few weeks. My friend and I were sitting outside a new, trendy bar in the Students Union. It was yellow-and-orange themed in a headache-inducing, cheesy-retro style. The tables and chairs were a bright, neon, chequered yellow and orange mess. Even the doorman was dressed in a kind of yellow and orange jumpsuit. I made a funny remark about the eighties coming back, and the owner of the bar, who was listening from inside, took offense and started shouting at me and calling me names. I wanted to explain that I hadn't meant anything offensive, just an ironic social statement and not an insult to him personally, but I couldn't find the right words.

Then I was outside myself, watching myself. I wasn't being someone else; it was an out-of-(dream)body experience and I could only do it by closing my eyes almost to slits. I was fascinated with how I looked as I did simple things. It was like knowing how other people see me, and I felt a kind of detached love for myself as a beautiful person. My hair was short and I wondered if I had looked better when it was long. This became relevant later in the dream.

I wandered around the Union a little. It was full of people. Parts of it were like the corridors of a hospital, with people waiting around in dingy rooms, staring at the walls. A group of black men were hanging around in front of a TV which was attached high up the wall. They were all eating pizza and drinking cola. I "remembered" at some point that I was supposed to get to the main office to watch a guy who was going to castrate himself after applying a local anaesthetic. I'm not sure if he wanted to become a woman or if he was just doing it for a bet. I really didn't want to watch but for some reason I knew I had to be there.

While I was wandering around looking for the head office, the Leeds University Students Union somehow metamorphosed into my old family home, and instead of a guy castrating myself, I was supposed to watch while my parents cut our cat Velvet's tail off. I found Velvet cowering in a cupboard, and I picked her up in my arms. I didn't want them to cut her tail off so I was trying to find a place where she would be safe. While I was carrying her she turned into a colobus monkey and started wriggling away from me. I managed to get her into a small room where I thought she'd be safe, but it was full of hostile monkeys of a different species, and when I closed the door I realized she'd be in trouble, so I went back inside and got her out again. I brought her out to the edge of the garden and let her go, and when I was turning away I noticed her twisting around and contorting. I realized that she was choking, and stuck my finger down her throat to fish out the bone that had caught there. After I did this I realized that saving a life is an incredibly powerful and significant thing to do, because you are adding to the universe. All the new possible universes that can be created by decisions of the being whose life you have saved are your responsibility.

I found a present from my dad waiting for me on the stairs. It was an old raincoat, and he'd left a note saying that it needed to be washed but that I might like to wear it anyway. I went to find the master bedroom, where I knew he would probably be. When I found him he was standing in the doorway. He was really tall and big, as if I was seeing him from the perspective of a small child, and he was smiling broadly. His hair was quite wild and long-ish, and he looked so youthful and happy that I almost wanted to cry. He hugged me, and I wanted to ask him what had happened, because I knew that he had been away "in the country" and I wondered what had made him come back so different and alive, but just then my grandad (my mother's dad) came up the stairs. Everyone was coming upstairs for a dinner in the master bedroom, which now had a large table and an oven and a fireplace. There was a pile of chocolate biscuits in the fireplace, and I took one and started eating it. My mother came from the oven with food on a tray, looking flushed and happy, and I realized that she and my dad had had sex.

I asked her what had happened to my dad on his trip to the country, and she said that she didn't know because he was being very secretive about it. We all sat down around the table, and I asked him straight out in front of everyone, "So, you have to tell us what happened when you were down in the country." He wasn't annoyed. He smiled and looked down almost shyly and began with "Well, now..."

Then I woke up.

Roasting Pigs

I was in my old family house, and my dad's whole extended family were there, but the house was different - it was much larger, and full of strange rooms and corridors that I didn't remember. It was full of people, as if for a party. My dad arrived home after a long day at work - he was very tired, and there was so much distance between us that it made me sad, and put me in a bad mood. I started to sulk, just like when my favourite uncle got married when I was 14, and I refused to smile in the photographs.

Two psychiatrists that had arrived at the house for a conference walked in to the room accompanied by my mother, and one of them told me that I should open up and talk about my feelings. I yelled at him to shut up, but that made my dad angry. He told me not to be so rude. I told him that he had no right to talk to me like that any more, because of the distance between us, and he got very sad and agitated, saying that he wished that people would just leave him alone when he came home from work, because he was so tired, and he had nothing to look forward to at home except more demands on him - to cook, clean, talk, deal with problems. Right now, he said, he was trying to cook dinner.

I felt sorry and ashamed, and I saw how much stress and labour he had in his life, and even though I knew that he had kept me at this emotional distance, I couldn't stay angry with him. I hugged him and told him I was sorry, crying a little, and he hugged me back, and for a moment we truly connected - for the first time in years. We were looking at each other and really allowing the other to see the naked emotional person underneath the mask. Just then one of the psychiatrists walked in and saw us, and he nodded and smiled, as if to say "my work here is done."

My dad and I went into the kitchen. He was roasting two entire, enormous pigs on spits in a huge oven full of orange-hot coals and flames. He turned them and made adjustments to the heat, and then he left me there is the kitchen because he had other things to attend to. Suddenly Liadain was there, and I watched her nibble on crispy pieces of the pigs' skin. She talked about how her family used to cook stuffing in chicken or turkey at Christmas, and how she loved to eat it. It occurred to me that she was eating pork even though she was vegetarian, but I figured it was her business and didn't say anything.

I went to look for my dad again, and found him sitting behind a judge's bench in a large room along with my mother and the two psychiatrists. They were part of a telephone panel, answering calls from distressed people and comforting them or offering solutions to their problems. This seemed perfectly natural to me, and I left the room because I didn't want to distract them.

The next time my dad came into the sitting room, he looked completely different. He was shorter and had dark hair, and he was much thinner and looked much younger, with a fresher face and bright eyes. He explained that he had lost 32 pounds on some kind of diet and had undergone an incredible rejuvenation. Rather than face the unreality of this, I just accepted what he was saying, and we started to horseplay. I picked him up and turned him upside down, and just then a nameless relative walked through the room and I called out, "Look! I could never do this before!"

I couldn't quite shake the feeling that something was wrong, though. I started to get ready for bed. I was looking for somewhere to brush my teeth, and I went into the conference room where the psychiatrists were, but then I remembered that I had a room upstairs with a basin, so I went up to find it. Next thing I know, I'm with a small Chinese girl who I must have met on the way upstairs. I was showing her all around the house. This was the old family home as I remembered it from when I was very small - full of dark, slightly secret rooms and passageways and musty smells and mysterious presences. I wanted to show the girl a picture of my father when he was younger, to prove that the dark-haired man downstairs was an imposter. "I like him," I told her, "but he's not my dad."

We walked along the long landing that led to most of the bedrooms. The carpet was a dull hospital green colour, and daylight was coming throught he windows even though it had been night just a short while ago. There were many family pictures on the wall, but none of them was of my dad. We turned a corner and found ourselves in a huge children's playroom and bedroom. The sleeping area on the left had a huge bed and great sheets and drapes which hung from the ceiling and billowed in the breeze of large fans on the walls. On the right was a play area full of brightly coloured toys and books and a rainbow rug. A tape-recorded voice could be heard telling a children's story. I knew that the room had been built for my cousin Mark, who was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy and was severely retarded. There was a picture of an older male relative on the wall - possibly my great-grandfather who died before I was born. The room had a very creepy, ghostly feel to it and we left quickly.

I pointed out some small stairs leading up from the landing, and the girl said "The post room is that way." I felt that we shouldn't go to the post room, so I brought her to my mother's bedroom. There were lots of pictures here, and I finally found a recent one of my dad, in which he was large and heavy and had greying hair. I showed it to the girl, and compared it to the man downstairs, saying "You don't go from this to that by losing 32 pounds!" She added "Or go from having grey hair to black," and we both laughed, and I said "Or from being 6 foot two to being 5 foot eleven!" We agreed that the man downstairs couldn't be my dad.

Just then the girl got agitated and told me that when she came into the house, she had seen a strange, unnatural blue light, and she thought this might have had something to do with my dad's transformation. I asked her to describe the light, feeling that this was very important, but just then all the lgiht in the bedroom disappeared for a couple of moments, leaving us in complete darkness. I felt instinctively that it was a psychic attack of some kind. After the lights came back on, to reassure both myself and the girl, I showed her a power cord as we were leaving the bedroom, and said "It's the speakers for the stereo - my mother leaves them plugged in all day and sometimes it shorts out the power." It was only after I woke up that I realized that my power cord explanation couldn't have been true, because the light that had disappeared and then returned was daylight. I think I just came up with my explanation so that I could keep a grasp on reality - in fact, throughout the dream I kept on finding rational explanations for insane situations, so that I could avoid facing the unreality of it - and presumably, the realization that I was dreaming.