My flash fiction dream the other morning isn’t the first narrated dream I’ve had, only the first time I’ve woken with it more or less intact, the first time I’ve reached for my notebook upon waking, the first time the act of writing fiction merged with the act of recording my dream. I can’t count the times I’ve heard the narrator’s voice or seen the words on the page, have woken knowing it was good, knowing it was worth preserving, only to have it disperse before my eyes, escape my conscious mind completely. I do have one other narrated dream I can still remember because it was so striking, though the details are confused in me now.
The narrative is a murder mystery, a genre I have no experience in, yet it flows without hesitation through the dream, the words elegant and gripping. The narrator is a governess, maybe fin-de-siècle England. I hear her reading the narrative in an English accent. I have no reason to doubt her. She is typing the narrative as she reads it, telling the story of the disappearance of one of her charges, a young woman. She is worried about the girl’s welfare, disturbed by the rumors she has run off with her lover. But better the scandal, she thinks, than some unwitnessed fall off the cliffs, her body washed out to sea. Better, she thinks, to imagine the dear child is alive somewhere in the world, yes? Her concern is evident. She cared about this woman child. The camera pans from right to left. I remember empty rooms, the sense of being high up in an old stone castle, the sea far below. I see the governess in a room with white walls, typing at a bare wooden table, a tall narrow window flung open in the wall behind her. I hear the sound of the typewriter keys, the carriage returns, the governess’s voice telling the story, how much she wants to know what has become of her young charge, how much she hopes she’s safe, unharmed. The camera continues to pan toward the left through the empty room. Beyond the desk I see a young woman hanging by her neck from a thick, course rope. The governess continues to type.
I remember the shock I felt when the dead body came into view. The chill went all the way through me, sent me seeping back into wakefulness, my body tingling, on its heels my indignant surprise. I felt shocked, even betrayed. I’d had no idea my character had killed her until that last grisly moment when the camera’s lens finds the dead girl dangling from the ceiling.