heads

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was awake and calm during this procedure) they discovered another thing that interested them - my entire upper jaw had been replaced by an "orthodontic plate".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.

Little head's 7 days of loneliness

Liadain and I were going on holiday. It had been a long time since we had been able to get away and we were looking forward to it; so much that when we arrived in Dublin city centre on our way to get a coach to somewhere in Europe, we barely noticed when Greta stumbled on getting out of the car and fell on her side in the gutter. Why was she with us in the car? Why did we not help her up, but instead continue on to our coach without thinking about her? There's no answer to these questions, this is just how it was.

The dream stretched out for a long time. I mean, we had a real week's holiday - there were plots and sub-plots, parties and strange drugs, odd friends and journeys through unfamiliar landscapes. Unfortunately all of this time became telescoped and faded into a few instants as soon as we arrived in Dublin again after a long coach journey back. We emerged in Temple Bar and immediately I saw what we had forgotten: there was Greta in the gutter.

Except it wasn't the whole of her; it was just her head, lying on its side with its eyes open and blinking.

"Oh my god, oh my god..." I ran over and picked up her head in my hands. I had to do it carefully, because she had been lying there so long, unnoticed and unmoved, that one of her eyelids was stuck to the road. Where was her body? Why had no one noticed her here on a busy street? Why was she still alive? No answers. This is just how it was.

"Oh...I'm cold..." she said. "I've been so lonely."

"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry..."

I ran to the Garda station, which was a small shop just a few doors down. They seemed annoyed that I thought the issue of Greta's head was so important, and the guard grumbled as he looked at her blinking, forlorn expression; then he seemed to remember something. Yes - they had a body, it seemed. It had been found last week and put on ice. Her head could be reattached, although, he seemed to be saying by his manner, he hardly saw the point, as she was so old anyway.

We were taken to a facility of some kind where I laid Greta's head carefully in a vat of viscous pinkish fluid (I think they called it "bacta" in The Empire Strikes back) that would regenerate her tissues and prepare her to be reattached to her body - although, as a white-coated scientist informed me, she would "never fully be her old self as regards walking and suchlike."

She looked up at me from the liquid, wide-eyed. The horror of what had happened suddenly overwhelmed me as I imagined what it must have been like for her to lie helpless and afraid and lonely in the gutter for seven days. How had she not died? How could I have left her?

I started to cry and ran out of the room, and Liadain followed me and sat beside me while I sobbed. I was responsible for the whole thing, because of my selfishness. The feelings were awful; but when I woke up and told the dream to Liadain, we both laughed at the absurdity of the situation. Lonely severed heads. It felt very real and devastating at the time.