‘Tormented by Dreams’
– A Short Story –
I’m being tormented by my dreams.
Every night I go to sleep feeling fine, but in the morning I wake up feeling exhausted, as if I’ve been spending all of my energy in the land of dreams. When I wake up my fingers are sore, and my voice sounds strange. To make matters worse, I can never remember the dreams. I do have flashbacks, but they’re nonsensical, unrelated images that just confuse me even more:
A girl’s big blue eyes, an owl, a painting, a violin.
The other day, a girl who I’ve been sleeping with mentioned that I’d been talking in my sleep. So tonight, I decided to record myself sleeping. Perhaps I’d be able to decipher something from whatever I’ve been sleep-talking about. I don’t have an audio recorder, so I am using a video camera instead.
Have a good night.
I sip on sweet chai tea as I load the recording from the camera to my laptop. I spill some on myself in astonishment:
At 23:29, I watch myself wake up and walk to the bathroom. I return 10 minutes later. Then, I put on some clothes. At 23:48, I leave the room again. From the recording, I can faintly hear voices, and later on there is… music.
At 03:06, I come back to my bedroom looking tired but happy. And I am not alone: There is a girl with me. I can’t make out how she looks in the dark. We fall asleep together in each other’s arms. When the warmth of the morning sun creeps in to the room, she disappears.
I’m too scared to watch the recording again. I console myself with the fact that sleep-walking is actually not that rare. It happens. But who is the girl? And where did she disappear to? I’m tormented by a strange curiosity: I have to see what happens in the rest of my apartment when I leave the room between around midnight and 03:00 am.
Today at film school, I ask two of my friends to lend me a few of their video cameras. I need five more to cover my apartment fully.
In the evening I set all the cameras up around my apartment: Bedroom, Bathroom, Kitchen, Living Room, Patio, Garden Area. I still can’t believe that I’m doing this, but I continue as if it is the most natural thing in the universe: to video record yourself sleeping.
Before I drift off to sleep, I ponder the nature of, and try to decipher the mysteries in, dreams and reality.
Good night for now.
23:28: I take a shower and dress. 23:50: I make some tea in the kitchen. Then I retrieve an old guitar from storage and sit on the couch, practicing the same melody over and over for ten minutes. 00:00: A knock on the door. His name was Mister Sir, and he was an owl, but he was massive by owl standards: Almost as tall as me. He carried with him a purple violin, and he spoke with a British accent.
“Greetings. And how does this fine evening fare, young master?” he said, giving me a hug “Are you well my friend?”
“I am, thank you Sir. And you, how are you? Would you like a drink?”
“Incredible” he said, sitting down on the couch, “Absolutely incredible. Er… yes please, tea, with a bit of milk, Thanks. I have so many stories to tell you. The universe has been conspiring, but more about that later… Are you ready? Lula around?”
“I’m ready, and a bit nervous to say the truth” I said “Lula will be here in 10 minutes or so. Here you go”.
“Thanks. You’re gonna be great my friend. I can’t wait for us to seize the night with these beautiful melodies. Unleash them to the world – finally”.
“Yeah, please. Listen, just do what you do, mate. And don’t let the crowd throw you off. Feed off them for energy. You’re super-talented, kid”.
I nodded, still nervous but reassured.
He stood up and pulled a spliff out of his shirt pocket. “I’ll be outside warming up and watching the stars”.
I don’t know how else to describe it: She just appeared next to me on the couch, smiling.
“Hey love. I’m sorry I couldn’t come earlier”. She said, with a Japanese accent.
“No problem. How was work?”
She sighed. “Better. Things are picking up”.
I noticed that she had a painting with her by Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory.
“Did you come straight here?” I asked.
She shook her head. “I went home first. Had to put Tee to sleep. He’s still scared of the dark, you know.”
“I know. The little rascal. Come here. Give me a kiss”.
Lula has brown hair cut to her shoulders. She’s wearing a black and white polka dot dress, with red All-Stars, a dozen colourful bangles on each arm, and a nose ring.
“He misses you.” She said “After you visited, my bedtime stories just don’t do it for him anymore”. She shrugged lightheartedly.
I smiled, thinking of Tee. “Tell him I promise to visit soon with a new super-story”
I looked deep into her blue, beautiful eyes. I could get lost in them forever. I smiled, savouring every sensation about that moment. We could hear noises coming from the garden.
“Shall we?” I asked, holding out my hand to her.
We arrive on the stage in my garden. An audience of about 30 people plus a dozen other creatures of the night are applauding. There are two moons in the night sky, and the stars shine brightly. Lula places the painting nearby, it is her good luck charm. Mister Sir has already been doing some vocal warm ups. We do a sound check. Ready. We start with three covers:
- Give Me One Reason by Tracy Chapman
- Indy by Carlos Santana and Miguel.
- Forrest Gump by Frank Ocean.
Then we play the three songs which are our own compositions. We have been rehearsing them for weeks now. Between us, we switch instruments and vocals constantly: electric guitar, violin, flute, drums. We nail most of it, but it’s not perfect. We aren’t too hard on ourselves though. It feels incredible to be performing our own melodies for the first time. At the end of the performance, we receive a great applause. We spend some time enjoying a beer with our fans, and we do interviews with a couple of journalists.
After the set, the three of us spend some time debriefing the performance, and we do some calendarising for our next practice sessions. Then we drink, and we bask in the feeling of finally being a real band that play our own music.
Lula and I say goodbye to Mister Sir who is off to play shows with another band in Berlin, then off home to Paris to see his wife and children.
Then the two of us share a glass of wine, and we make slow, sweet, love on the couch, before falling into a well-deserved sleep. When the first light shines through my windows, we wake up. Lula dresses, and after kissing me goodbye, she disappears. Then I head to my room to sleep in my bed.
The night creatures were sleeping. The two moons were disappearing, the stars now just a fading memory. The warm rays of the sun were creeping through the windows toward me. The birds were singing. A light breeze was blowing the autumn leaves gently to the floor, turning the world red and orange and yellow.
My eyes open, and the muscles in my face instantly form a big, beautiful smile.
Taahir Kamal Chagan