November 22nd, 2004


I get up late, I celebrate

I woke twisted with anxiety, but also vaguely impresed at how my mind had neatly combined two favourite anxiety dreams ("big old house full of stairs" and "vast overwhelming waves") by placing the house (this time a big, square, dilapidated deco hotel, decorated mainly in pink) in the middle of a valley which would flood if anything happened to the huge dam at its far end. When the inevitable happened, we were too far from anywhere else to evacuate and had to just keep on going upstairs, trying to keep ahead of the water. We finally ended up in an attic, floors above the attics we knew about, where the ghosts of long-dead tenants stood stock-still among the rafters, wreathed from head to toe in vague black clothes. When we accidentally brushed against them it was like lace or cobwebs made of ice, burning cold. The water stopped rising, removing the immediate threat, but what would we do now?

Then I was in wartime, a long campaign, far in the past. I was a servant, junior, unimportant. Working for a duchess fond of grand gestures. She was determined to prove she wasn't cowed by the aggression of the fairies by going and having a picnic on the very slopes of fairyland. So we prepared a grand picnic, the sort that takes a whole passel of servants to carry, and set out through the magic mirror into the twilight lands. Once there, we set up the picnic but, in the chilly light, the food seemed unappetising, our hunger diminished. As her grand friends picked listlessly at the spread (which looked claggy and flavourless in the greyish light) the duchess (unprecedented!) asked the servants to join in, but we (though the food, of course, was glorious) were no more tempted than the aristocrats. I found myself thinking back to the spell the duchess had used to open the way. What were the words? was it possible that she had said something that meant we couldn't go home until the food was all eaten? I opened my mouth, and found I was too uncertain to say anything, too small. But I could see a future ahead of me spent eating increasingly rancid picnic food in an attempt to break the charm, a future which I was powerless to avoid.

It was a bloody relief to wake up, less of a relief to discover I had just under ten minutes to get to work.

The weekend was mostly spent drawing, scanning, and swearing, but I crushed in drinking myself into oblivion whilst wearing stupid clothes (variant: cocktails) and watching The Incredibles (well, yes, of course it's good) so it wasn't all about stress ...
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