20 August 2010

Spirits of the Past

It was the weirdest dream I'd ever had. I was flying, literally, soaring like an eagle right into summer, leaving the New Year frosts behind. A silver cape streamed behind me. A black mask, slightly askew, had captured an aimless spiral of blonde hair. Apart from isolated cotton-candy clouds, there was nothing to see. I thought the world had disappeared until I found myself gliding over a floating mass of what appeared to be dark brown rocks. I hovered briefly in order to survey the great bulk of... well, I'll call it rubble for want of a more descriptive word. I could distinguish some mountainous areas in the middle, with colourless water snaking in and out, but the majority of the terrain was flat and sombre, littered with boulders and various markers. I shoved the delinquent hair behind my ear, adjusted the mask, and then zoomed down for a closer look. The nearer I got to that spherical island the more chilled I felt…yet it wasn't cold. In fact, the higher my cape flew the more of my shoulders the sun found to roast.

The markers were a diverse array of signposts each pointing in a different direction. Mostly the posts were constructed from wood, ramshackle and splintering, but one or two were elaborately created. Those were placed abreast of wooden stiles, though there was no path upon which to travel when one had clambered over. I plunged towards the first post and latched onto it by wrapping my arm around its imposing pointed prong. The letters inscribed there were huge and I had to tilt my head to read it.

Welcome to the Forties, it said.

Thank you, I said.

Slackening my grip, I drifted in the direction of less elaborate signs. They were branded with dates, deeply chiselled for permanency, years ranging from 1940 to 1944. Again I felt that sweeping chill. Vibes of bloody battles made me shudder. A curious burning smell made me want to puke. Lamentations filled the air and my cheeks were showered with watery drops. I glanced upwards expecting to see rain clouds, but the sun was shining as fiercely as before. Hastily, I averted my eyes, not liking the perception of such acute sadness. Anxious to find more agreeable surroundings, I pulled my cape closer and wafted away.

Flitting over a cheerless lake, I advanced towards a solidly constructed signpost, made of steel with wrought iron digits standing proud, each digit entwined with withered roses and sprigs of laurel. 1945. Waves of acclamation caressed me, yet the impression that someone had died was very strong. There were no mortals to whom I could attribute the echoing sounds yet I definitely heard laughter and muffled exchanges. And enunciated names: Hitler and Ribbentrop. My own impression was one of relief though I couldn’t explain why. It might have been the warmth, or the unexpected peace.

Ahead of me, descending slowly earthward, was an additional signpost. Enthralled by the method of descent I watched it alight on the brow of the hill, its arrow-like arm indicating the direction of the fifties. What lay on the other side? Would there be chaos, more gunfire and smoke, more flashing lights and despairing cries? I decided not to proceed. I had seen enough. All I wanted was to go home. If only I knew the way.

Swiftly, I arched away from the ghosts that occupied that extraordinarily desolate chunk of land, gathering about me the cape which seemed suddenly leaden. I panicked that the exit point might elude me, completely forgetting I could fly. I whirled round in my agitation and collided with a hitherto unseen monumental placard, suspended in mid-air, the size of the tract itself. I paced back, tortuously slanting my neck to behold the colossal red lettering. Red as blood, the only vivid colour in that dingy brown expanse.


Somewhere a clock chimed. Out of the remoteness came Ma's piping voice shouting me to wake. My eyes fluttered open. The silver cape was on the five-drawer chest where I had left it after the fancy dress ball. The mask was hanging by its elastic on one of the knobs. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was back home, in our matchbox-sized house, a bright and cosy property just big enough for Ma and me. We were unassailable. We were unaffected by past decades.

Or were we?


  1. Sometimes our dreams can seem so real, especially if they include items from our real life. I love your descriptions in this!

  2. or were we indeed...i imagine so...smiles.

  3. WOW...this was such great story, Valerie!

    That ending gave me goosebumps!

    "We were unassailable. We were unaffected by past decades.

    Or were we?


    There is something about the 40's that has always held a strong fascination. It was a time of such turmoil, yet there was a certain glamour in the clothing, music, and style of time that beckons me.

    Have a wonderful weekend, dear lady!

  4. When I first began reading this post I wanted to know what happened as I often have dreams of flying and then as I continued I realized it was another one of your wonderful stories....I do believe we are affected by past decades always. Great story Val, so enjoyed it.....:-)Hugs

  5. Your imagery and word choice just blow me away every time. You capture my attention with every time :) Thanks again Val for a great reading experience. I feel recharged after reading your writing. You're a pro!


    It was. Thanks Val. A magical piece of writing.

  7. I can't remember anything I dream about, unless I get 'real' cramp and wake up in pain! :(
    What I would like to know Valerie,
    is this a tale, a story, or did you really remember flying back to the 1940's?
    After all, those war years would leave a lasting impression on most children's minds.
    I was two in 1944 and probably slept through the worst of the bombing of Birmingham. Zzzzzzzzz!
    Cheers......Bernard. xx
    PS I was up in Selly Oak on Friday.
    Gosh, hasn't it all changed?

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm so pleased you enjoyed this bit of fictitious dreaming. Like Uncle Bernard, I seldom remember dreams but it was fun to write about one.

    Note for Uncle... I haven't been to Selly Oak for years, I'm not sure I could remember the way....grins.

  9. Perhaps you thought something about 1940's before you fall to sleep.. hehehe...
    very nice description of your dream!!

    Wishing you have a wonderful week, Val!!

  10. I wish I had more fictitious dreaming I could write about but I always seem to forget when I wake up. I am glad you got to share this with us. You are awesome as usual.

  11. Our Dare even barks in his deams!



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