It’s a repeating daydream. It’s a strange place, shifting and wobbling. It’s a small freeze frame, a piece of film on the cutting room floor, smoke in the air. It’s almost a picture but not quite. It’s almost film but isn’t that either. Moving and unmoving, like a reflection on water, it contains the figure of your love. It’s the place where that feeling was birthed—a feeling that slapped against the inside of your chest the first time you felt it—whack. Long hair, white t-shirt, and a background of blue-summer sky, music. Long-gone tire tracks on the brain.
It’s in my mind, framed like a picture:
the sky is a bright blue and clouds are floating by.
It’s often put aside, this first feeling. Impossible, dismissed. That was odd, wasn’t it. Didn’t expect that. In the drawer, away. Don’t worry about that, it’ll go away, never mind. Enough time will pass for it fade into a memory, distant in the recess of your brain where it’s forgotten. Unfortunately for the forlorn this doesn’t mean erasure.
The figure from the picture turns up, late at night, around a table, in a group of friends. The thought of them hasn’t occurred to you for a time, so it’s with surprise that you find yourself resisting the urge to sit down. There it was again—whack. You could swear there was a little man inside your chest sending a paddle against the heart. Whack! take that, whack! Gotchya now. Whack! feel this.
This early process begins to repeat itself. Aspersions are cast aside, allusions you make you yourself put away. No point, you write in your journal, no chance, no hope of that. Don’t be silly. But the memory is always there, the picture in your mind, buried, brought up, buried again. It was germinal of something, you realise this. It floats in front of the mind’s eye more often, interrupting, changing, shifting. You finally admit to the feeling and the daydreams take off, flowers in the springtime of your little garden mind. You write a love letter. No one reads it.
Blue and amber screens start to keep you up at night. The icons of your social media find themselves under your thumb more and more as you look for something extra, something to build on. Conversations start and soon enough a relationship begins. It isn’t like you imagine in this narrative. The two characters don’t usually meet in the flesh, almost never. It’s mostly elsewhere, on screens, and in the daydreams you build around them and yourself. Even in your sleep-dreams you come across it, the same picture, in a different light, in places odd and familiar—a bus, at home, at work, in the park under your favourite oak. You write them down.
She says nothing, only leaning in and kissing me and my heart nearly explodes.
It’s just a dream. Another daydream.
There is risk in this, in the scaffolding now towering around you. The daydreams rise in their frequency, in their closeness. They sneak up on you, resting hands on your shoulders before you realise it. Stop it. Snap out of it. But you can’t help but create a small universe for your own. Entire landscapes rise up and melt around you in seconds that feel like small hours, the kind that people have to wake you from, startling you. Hey, can I get some help? Hello? Your favourite music is the soundtrack (dreamers, they never learn). It’s not just the landscape around you forming, it’s the person too, standing in the midst of it, like she’s standing in the shell, birthed into your world. You talk to them, using keys and yellow faces, and in it all they emerge—online version, online you.
I’ve set my own trap.
I sit in the glasshouse I built, in a chair made of fire lighters…
Then there comes a time when it seems to go wrong. Something does go wrong. There’s a change in the world behind the blue and amber screens. The subject of your daydreams seems to lose their colour, there’s less noise coming from their side and what feels like a chasm opens up between you. The landscape darkens. There are some clues—a short reply, a screenshot, hints. All you know is something changed. Maybe some conversation took place, maybe a decision you don’t know of, a revelation unbeknownst to you but known to them. The little screens don’t seem so close anymore. Something went wrong.
I look in the memory, take an inventory of myself and think no,
this wouldn’t do. It seems likely that she wouldn’t, doesn’t—
You continue to daydream now knowing that it was true, that it shouldn’t have been worried about, you shouldn’t have thought about it, that there was no chance. They roll in and out with the days. Summer’s coming, you realise. Another dream, another daydream, another hopeless idyll in the woods against a dusky sky, light breeze. You’re listless in this space, created by you, that garden of your mind. Feels like Autumn, before the winter, not summer.
This is what’s left, architecture of a daydream, all around you. Doorways, bedrooms, picnic rugs, fresh-water rivers, smiles, whispers under sheets, a late-night car ride, a favourite song. Like before it creeps up on you, but there’s no hand on your shoulder, no hair in your eyes. They turn into memories. That first picture you had of them swims in a collection of images, all light and watery. You can’t tell which is real.
A thousand daydreams and a thousand more, she’s always on my mind.
Every hour, most minutes, again and again,