Tuesday 2/Wednesday 3 February 2021. Night

I wake from a dream with my heart pounding so loudly I think I’ll wake the neighbours. I’d dreamt about the house where I grew up, in Katrineholm, Sweden. I was preparing for work, my current work from home, like so many others. But a boy kept appearing outside, a young teenager; the age I was when I lived there. He was interested in me and flirted, and I couldn’t help but being flattered. But I was also surprised, since I’m so much older than him, and a bit scared because he was in the garden. It was confusing to be both adult and teenager, now and then, in England and Sweden.

As I started work he came back, into the house this time, and I no longer felt flattered but threatened. So I threw him out of the kitchen window, into the flower bed where I buried my goldfish when I was 12. I didn’t hurt him, I made sure his head didn’t hit the brick wall my mother had built around it.

Then I worked, but heard someone running around the house and knew that whoever it was, they were naked. I wasn’t sure if it was the guy or his brother who had come for revenge. They left something on the glass porch but I didn’t have time to check what it was because I was working. Neighbours had called the police at this point, so they arrived in huge vans all driven on the right side of the road but were all British police in black and white and hard helmets, rather than the blue Swedish police with soft hats. They shouted and screamed and looked for things, and I showed them the porch where a homemade bomb had been left in a duffel bag. They got us all out on the veranda just before the bomb went off and killed the boy and my work laptop. I didn’t know how to explain this to my boss.

The teenagers from Sex Education came to mourn. And I didn’t know if I was a teenager or an adult, attracted or afraid, in Sweden or in England, past or present.

Re-reading some of The Chronicles of Narnia before bed makes me think about age, time, different worlds and different time lapses. Am I in a dreamland, and will soon wake up on the other side of the wardrobe as an unhappy teenager again? Or was childhood the dreamland, the one I can’t go back to? What is the real world? I’ve had many dreams about childhood recently, where it’s lost and needs to be left behind. But it always stays with me, particularly in those dreams, and Sweden is a real place where time passes (or maybe it’s just me who’s ageing?) even when I’m not there. It’s tantalisingly there, like a flirt that also scares.

Awake and washing my face in cold water, I don’t know or recognise the boy from my real past. But I would be able to pick him out from a line-up of identification if I had to, with his red hair and boyish smile. Back in bed I wonder if he’s Peter Pan, from my academic past, come to chase me away from reality? Back to the impossible dream- and never-end-land of the past, where all I would do was dream about a future of freedom away from reality.

My eyes close and discover the next dream.

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