by Prenesa Naidoo
And then I slipped between the fine line of reality and fantasy. I crawled toward spooky season with my dreams clasped tightly in my fists. I felt feverish with the contact. I felt powerful. The shadows revealed signs just for me. The wind whispered messages to me. The glances found in reflections were forbidden and intoxicating.
Nothing made sense in this new dreamscape, but also, everything did.
At night, I unfurled my fists slowly, watching the dreams display themselves across the greying ceiling of an unlit room.
I dreamt about the Devil. I danced with him in a dress made of silver silk. On my head was a crown of red flowers, baby’s-breath and pomegranate seeds. He made me dance with him until my feet ached. And then he whispered that if I ran fast enough, I could finally be free. I did run, kicking off my shoes and throwing the crown into the fire around me. The fire kept trying to kiss my dress, releasing little hisses when I escaped its grasp. But I lost my breath in front of his gate. I started dreaming about him again, night after night. Sometimes I got further than his gate. But not far enough to be free.
After, he would remain in the bottom right corner of the ceiling, arms folded and leaning on the edge. He waited to see what else I dreamt about.
I dreamt of The Fool sometimes. When I was a child, I found an old set of tarot cards in a charity shop. I didn’t know how to read them, but it seemed they could read me. And sometimes, they even spoke to me.
Later, in a rusty blue caravan I learnt that The Fool was the reminder of innocence and new beginnings, of free spirits and hesitation. Of carelessness. The Fool came with potential going unnoticed, carefree laughter and reassuring mumbles in the dark.
I dreamt about the Fool climbing through my bedroom window in the darkest hours of the night when I would be running my fingers through candle flames. He would come to me, perching at the edge of my desk and braid little white flowers into my hair. He would remind me of Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. In some dreams, his touch would make words spill out of me, a tumble of images and feelings only he could translate. In other dreams, he would ask me to pick up the pen, curving his fingers around mine, and help me.
After, he too, would remain behind. He would stand in the middle of the ceiling, his face frozen in a carefree smile. He too, waited to see what I dreamt about next.
And there would be one final dream. There were always two endings, interchangeable with their occupants. And they were represented by another tarot card, The Lovers. In that caravan I also learnt that they represented new love, disharmony, lost love. They represented sneaking out at night to meet strangers and heated looks shared. And difficult choices that came with harder consequences tucked beneath their arms.
I always dreamt about braiding my hair tightly. In my own way, it was an attempt to keep my mind wrapped around itself. And then, he became the velvety piece of ribbon that I braided into my hair. And naturally, like all ribbons, I had to run the ends through my dancing flame, while he sat on the window ledge and watched.
Sometimes the ribbon would be red, just like it was cut from the Devil’s cloak, and he would be sitting on the ledge. Other times it was emerald, just like it was cut from The Fool’s long sleeves, and he would watch from the ledge instead.
I could never understand what the dreams meant, just that the final one always left me feeling a little less than whole. So, when the sun rose, I would pull the dreams from the ceiling and wrap them into my fists again. Safe.
In this issue:
Odd Interview: Khanyo — Interview by Amir Bagheri and Angelo de Klerk
Odd Bookers — Radiyah Manjoo
Gaggle of Grotesques — Alun Robert
Grotesque — Ayesha Kajee
Delightful — Comfy
Animality of the Mouth — Lorelei Bacht:
The Discovery of a Vampire — Motswalo Manasoe: