The flowers in front of me are all different colours, bizarre shapes, some square, some triangle, others shapes that I can’t even name. The bright reds mixed in with purples, blues and pinks holding my gaze, calling out for me to pick one. There’s a larger flower, more prominent than the others, it’s a dark colour almost black and there seems to be a face at its centre. It’s not a kindly face, it’s one that I’ve seen before but where I am not sure. The black of the flower compliments the obvious vindictiveness of the face.
As I reach out to pick out one of the flowers I catch it grinning, I can’t pick the flower, its weak looking stem held into the ground by what feels like a dead weight. I pull harder and harder but it doesn’t move, the black flower laughing louder and louder, a cackle that runs through my body, frustration, tears that I can’t remove this small object. I kick out but I make no contact, I attempt to grab the stem again but I can’t, my hands passing right through it. And then it all fades away.
In front of me now are hundreds of people. Some I recognise, faces from the past, names long forgotten. Their faces are that of a child’s, how I remember them, yet they appear to have the bodies of adults. Friends and family, laughing and joking. I walk past them, trying to catch their eyes but not even a glance in return. I keep walking, faces repeating themselves, the crowd now stretching out endlessly. Those that are in front of me are behind me too.
I listen into their conversations but they make no sense, mumbled words, sentences that are broken, no meaning. More frustration and more confusion. I wave, dance but they still ignore me, I don’t exist, am I still alive? There doesn’t seem to be any sadness, I just want them to look at me, to acknowledge me, I want to be comforted. I hear the cackling again, looking past the crowds I see the flower looking at me, its face now more distinct, a mouth open as it takes pleasure in my fear.
And then they are all gone. The crowds and the flower disappear, along with the floor beneath me. I am falling, looking straight down, but there is no bottom, just emptiness. To my sides there are things, I can just make out vague outlines. They are like pictures, people with blurred faces, places smudged but recognisable. Memories, people and places that have been long locked away in my mind. I begin to fall faster and the sides disintegrate and fall away like ash from a burning piece of paper.
I can stand again. I am in a large open space, the floor is white, everything else is grey. All I can see is grey. I am trapped in a world that makes no sense, dragging me through my fears and memories. In the distance I can see somebody, they appear to be looking for someone, their head moving as they look one way and then the other. They come closer and closer, I shout and wave but they are oblivious to me. I try to call out but no noise comes out of my mouth, I try again and again but it’s no use, just more frustration.
He appears again. Just as the person is right in front of me. I see the blackness of his leaves and the smirk in his face. I reach out to touch the person, but my arms will only move a little, I’m just short of being able to touch them, as though in a bubble. I scream and this time noise comes out, but they ignore it. Carrying on walking and searching, unaware of my presence, unaware of my existence even. Everything is now wet, water everywhere, a lone tree, bare, sad, lonely sticks out from the depths I have been flung into.
I swim towards it, or try to swim towards it. I feel, know it’s the only place of refuge for me. But I can’t get closer to it. Each stroke, each kick, using as much energy as I can but the tree gets no nearer. My strength is fading, the tree is pulling further away, I am being dragged back by some unseen force. I have nothing left to give, I surrender to the water, to whatever it is that it is pulling me. I fall under, the inky blue turning darker and darker as I fall further.
Then it is all black, I can see nothing. I can hear voices but I don’t know where they are coming from. The cackle of laughter starts up again, fear running through me. This time I give in, I won’t fight it. There’s no point, all my fears have just played out in front of me and I can’t stop it, I no longer exist. The voices and the laughter stop, I am still conscious but I see nothing, feel nothing, hear nothing. And then everything is normal again, my eyes opening to reality, or what I hope is reality.