It was the first time I dreamed of him but it would not be the last. He came regularly into my dreams after that, almost like an actor in an old silent film, moving through life seemingly without a care. I was simply floating, an observing companion to his every whim. I saw him riding a white horse through some kind of woodland; it was a beautiful, peaceful thing and I wished that I could have been there riding with him. Though I don’t at all like horses I would have gotten on one for him. He again came to me wearing a wonderfully dapper suit, not too dissimilar from the one that he had been painted in. He was hosting a dinner party or something similar; the grand old dining room was incredibly beautiful, with long hanging velvet curtains and a table stretching from one end to the other. It looked strangely familiar, though I was unable to place where I had seen it before. I couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t all still live in houses like that one, with their wide open rooms and charming décor. Certainly much nicer than the crummy little flat I shared with mother. There were times, while I was dreaming of him, when I was uncertain whether I was really sleeping. He seemed so very real to me, I could reach out and touch him, walk with him down the bustling streets. Though he could not see me I felt very much like I was with him.
It would have been spooky, itshouldhave been, but part of me very much enjoyed those dreams. There was something about being with him that made me feel very calm, like his presence was something that was supposed to be, like we were fated to have met somehow. I regularly had to tell myself that he was just a painting, he did not really exist. Maybe if he did exist sometime in the past, he was long dead, so there was no way that I would ever meet him. I did not need to wonder, at least, why he was appearing in my dreams; it seemed clear to me that my fascination with him was at the forefront of my mind at all times, and that it was growing whether I wanted it to or not. At the time I saw no reason to not want it. He might have made me feel slightly uneasy, but he was still captivating. During both sleeping and waking hours I thought of him, I just couldn’t help it. There was something ominous about him, I knew that, but I couldn’t help but be drawn to him. He seemed to whisper to my soul and show me snippets of life. He might have appeared to be dark and almost sinister, but to me he was the one person I had ever really connected with, and I didn’t want to see that there was something not quite right about him.
I hadn’t told any of my friends that I was dreaming about him, or, come to think of it, that he even existed. I saw no need to bring anybody else in on my private thoughts, he was nothing to do with them. I think there was a part of me that didn’t want to share him with other people. I wouldn’t have even told Mother if she hadn’t heard me thrashing around in bed one night. I was with him in a particularly terrible dream, he was being chased somewhere and rather than being an outside onlooker I was seeing everything through his eyes. I felt everything that he was feeling, and it was terrifying. It must have been bad outside of the dream as well because Mother felt the need to shake me awake, jolt me out of the dreaming world for fear that I was experiencing a night terror, something I had suffered from shortly after losing my hearing as a child. Through the haze of my half waking state I could see that she was frightened for me. She was signing at me in a rapid and jumbled manner that was hard to understand.
“Ma, you’re going to have to slow down, it’s dark and I can’t see to read you let alone understand what you want” I signed to her while stifling a yawn. She reached over to switch on my desk lamp, so that I could see what she was saying. All she really achieved was making it overly bright so I had to squint at her, but I wasn’t about to interrupt the flow of rapid movement to tell her this.
“Are you alright? You were thrashing and making some strange noises like you were trying to talk to me” What was she going on about? I don’t ever try to talk, it’s pointless.
“Ma I’m fine, I was just having a strange dream. It happens to everyone.”
“This was more than a dream, look at you, you’re sweating and shaking. What on earth were you dreaming about” I knew that if I didn’t tell her she would stay at my bedside all night, as a grown woman that was not what I wanted.
“Well, I dreamed that I was running somewhere, I don’t know where but there was a feeling of urgency and I think fear. It’s hard to remember...”
“Well that explains why you’re sweating” She cut in.
“Yes, I suppose it does, but there’s more. I wasn’t me, I was seeing and feeling everything but not as myself.”
“Well if not as yourself then as whom?”
“The man from the painting...”
“You mean the painting that we could never find anything out about?” She looked very confused, and I was struggling to explain it all. I was tired.
“Yes, that painting. I was looking at it at work; I guess it was still in my mind when I fell asleep.” I didn’t really want to tell her that I spent most of my time looking at him.
“That might explain it, though it’s an odd thing to dream about. Do you think you’ll be alright to get back to sleep now? I can make you a drink or...”
“No Ma, I’m just fine. Thank you for being so concerned but I think I’ll just get some more rest. You know, before the next shift.” That part was all truth, I was exhausted despite my long hours of sleep, and I couldn’t figure why. It’s not like I did anything manual at the gallery. That and I didn’t want her fussing over me any more than she already was.
“Alright then, as long as you’re sure. Just knock on the wall if you need me. I’m right next door”
“I will. Love you Ma”
Maybe it was the dream running that made me so tired. Surely that wasn’t possible. It must have been a trick my weary mind was playing on me. It was only a dream... It can’t have been more than a dream.