A few pictures of OTHER PLACES IN DREAMS in situ:
By Lena Bohman:
I was the ambassador to Portugal, where they speak a language of broken glass and smashed wristwatches. I was shaking as my predecessor looked me in the eyes and said, by way of picking long and see-through shards out from his throat, “you mustn’t die inside a dream. The body treats it all as if it’s really happening.” The last shard gone, and the innards of a mechanic watch on the floor, he walked out into the river. I woke up. There was an earthquake. There are cuts inside my mouth now. Does writing count as speaking? I woke up.
The sex dreams, I never have. If a dream stays with you long enough, it transmutes into some weird memory that no-one else remembers. There is biting, thrashing, scratching, growling. I kiss, and you kiss back. You whisper, “You may do whatever you feel like,” and for days that echoes in my skull. Things aren’t real unless they can touch me (and I touch back); so why can’t you touch me? You mustn’t be real. I’ve done this before; I’ve never done this before. You’re not a dream. You must have happened. We had twenty-four hours like an action movie.
In my sleep I have a sword and a shield, otherwise I am the same person wearing flannel shirts, thick glasses, and bracelets from five different festivals. The people I meet in my dreams all seem relieved to see that I am carrying all that steel, they put their hands on my shoulders and they thank me. I never think to ask them what for. My dreams are about social happenings, polite dinners, running into old friends. I am always moving toward the setting sun, the direction of my childhood. I wonder what will happen when I reach the ocean.
Apparently technology works differently in dreams. There’s something unintuitive about the way a cell phone buzzing near your groin indicating that someone far away is talking to you, or wanting to talk to you; this is learnt behaviour and dreams work deeper than that. In my dreams, anything electrical works the opposite way I expect it to: traffic lights are too bright to look at, I cannot get a clear reading from my wristwatch, and if I pick up a phone – a red rotary phone – and dial your number, you actually pick up. You’re still debonair; we talk for hours.
Sometimes I see him in my dreams. I wake up and I know he was there, before the details of the dream sluices through the gaps between my fingers. In the dreams he hides in plain sight, that is how it works within a dream: inconspicuously. He smiles unmenacingly, even though I know he only has menacing smiles left. My dreams are prosaic dreams, about social rituals that make no sense, and how to adhere to them. He brews tea, he serves biscuits. He should not be there. He knows a way into my skull. Please. Get rid of him.
My dream journal is nine years old now. Each night, after my warm glass of milk and before I take off my glasses, I write down the dream I am going to have. My pen strokes are soft and feathery like my sleep. In the morning, my journal is empty and I have only the vaguest of recollections. But I have come to know a recurring dream, one where I write too hard on the page of my book and the words are not entirely erased, and dream seeps into my reality with that skippish jerkiness with which dreams move.