I remember the demon dreams were scored to the Dallas theme tune.
In the opening credits the camera panned up and over mirrored skyscrapers and freeways on stilts, and everything turned nauseatingly slowly. Sue Ellen’s earrings were perfectly circular like the wheel of the combine, and gleaming; lust and labour, toil and oil, going round and round and round in a nervy strained rhythm. It gave me motion sickness, the kind that comes on when the speed of the car and the rushing images outside the window impose opposing forces and there’s no room inside you for those forces to collide, so your grandfather has to pull over and you vomit into a hedge.
She’s got the bucket look, my mother used to say.
Eyes wide but not awake, not asleep neither. At least part of me is vigilant. I recognise the rooms, the threat-sweat of the bed, the shock-cold of the red bathroom tiles. My body is there, skin shivering, limbs trembling, but I am not. I am the voice trapped in my own throat and my throat is somewhere else. An enormous Ferris wheel, lurid with colored strobe lights, turns on its axis like the Southfork thresher, improbably slowly because it holds all the pace of the world in its spokes. This is as much violence as I can imagine.
I try to stop it but I can’t because I’m too little and too quiet. With each revolution the wheel slows down and the world gets faster. It’s too repulsive and I vomit again, this time into cool white porcelain. I swim up through the duh-duh-duh montage of Bobby’s bare chest and Pamela Ewing’s high-waist trousers and Jenna Wade’s fuchsia lipstick. Now I really am awake.
Freud would tell me not to worry; for all of this is merely prancing theatrics.
For in our sleep we are the guardians of the citadel, and no matter what quality of movement the Ucs might conjure ‘they are unable to set in motion the motor apparatus by which alone they might modify the external world.’ Like Dallas, the too fast and too slow is a flat illusion; it feels like an experience but you could put your hand right through it. I know, however, that I was only plunged under the surface by one hand; part of me was still standing at the bannister while JR chewed on his cigar and Miss Ellie wondered if the man with all the plastic surgery could really be her husband.
And the dream movement has a power here,
like the burning waters they’re all arguing about downstairs.
By Elinor Cleghorn
Elinor Cleghorn is a writer. Her first pamphlet, Lupercalia, was published this year with Litmus, and she blogs as the unwell woman. You can find her on her wesbite: