New Fiction: ‘Dead But Dreaming’ by Dave Howden

 

Dead But Dreaming

Dave Howden

 

I’m standing in my living room. It is a large, plain room with magnolia walls. It is bright, filled with natural daylight that makes its ingress from the large window that occupies much of the large wall, one of the longer dimensions of the rectangle, to my the left. I guess I’m not quite with it, hungover more than likely. I just don’t feel particularly connected. Between space… my wife is beside me, at my left hand side. Our backs rest against the shorter wall and my right shoulder is close to the corner where the wall to my rear and the other longer wall, the one without the window, meet. It’s very warm, a dry heat. It must be summer. I’ve almost forgotten what summer is.

She seems to come from nowhere. It’s as though she’s entered through the wall, a silent entry, and completely unannounced. Of course, there’s a door, to my wife’s left, some distance from me, and it’s concealed, even if my view of it wasn’t obscured. We both know her, and although she doesn’t live with us, and only visits very occasionally, the surprise is only momentary. No-one speaks, and we watch as she walks straight past us, dressed in a Chinese dress, and places her palms against the wall, the longer wall without the window, at the far end of the room. Hot on her heels – her bare, shoeless heels – appear a couple of Indian men wearing turquoise robes. They stand in the middle of the room and converse with one another in Hindi and ignore us as they watch the girl as she continues to move strangely, her back to us and her hands on the blank magnolia wall, her palms to the flat surface, almost stroking it.

Abruptly, she stops. We all go outside. It’s been a long time since I have been outside. The world has changed significantly. How long has it been? Long enough to have forgotten that from my doorstep I can see the lives of dozens of other residents in the square unfolding in real-time through the large window elevations of their flats – large, plain magnolia expanses, just like the one I live in. I move back and step outside myself once more.

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