I feel different, today – changed.
Rest came easier, despite the events of the last few days – I’m not sure what I had was sleep, but let’s call it that.
It’s not often that a dream insists on haunting your waking moments, but when it does, it feels real – like some other memory. Like some other thing that really happened to you (I feel the waves).
Fear, terror and guilt(?) still rage through my inner landscape, but they feel like distant voices – old, busybodies who no longer have the ken of it (the lapping of the water). Perhaps that’s where the dream sprang from – would these other things of conscience, not seem like ephemeral dream in harsh contrast to the reality I have suffered? How does one distinguish between nightmarish dreams and waking moments, when all of this is happening? (I remember, the water rising).
I can recall the rhythmic splashing of the waves before I finally drifted – not as familiar, nor as comforting, as it once had been when I first arrived. Now, they seemed almost to taunt me. Me? Us. The ship, its crew, and the souls we’re all sending to the depths, like stones and bones and leaded treasure.
Mother Nature has noticed these trivial games you play, the waves said. She shall never let you rest, the waves said. Regardless, they took charge of my slumber, and I floated like a white star in a pitch black ocean, while the dead serenaded me with fluted pipes, and they, with not one lung between them, came at last to an old sailor’s song – a shanty…
Oh, a hundred years is a very long time
Oh yes, Oh
A hundred years is a very long time
A hundred years ago
Well a hundred years on the eastern shore
Oh, a hundred years on the eastern shore
Ol’ Bully John from Baltimore
I knew him well, that son-of-a-whore
Ol’ Bully John was the boy for me
A bully on shore and a bucko at sea
Ol’ Bully John I knew him well
But now he’s dead and gone to hell.
He’s dead and gone forevermore
He’s gone and dead that son-of-a-whore
A hundred years have passed and gone
Been a hundred years since I made this song
Wake up, Lucy!
The chanting bubbled away into a familiar chuckle – a chuckle as dead as those voices had been. Bailey was standing over my cabin bed, laughing, while I lay there unable (or unwilling?) to wake or move. The ship was sinking. Water was creeping into my room. It was lapping around Bailey’s ankles and rising fast. Still I couldn’t move. Still Bailey laughed. It poured over the edges of my bed and quickly the ice of it began to caress my lifeless body.
And then I saw it…
In that twisted realm of dream logic, Bailey was no longer Bailey. Through the murky water, where Bailey stood, there was Maud. Dear Maud, hair waving and floating like sargasso, tilting as though the ship were sinking, and her lips as cold and blue as death. Falling to the floor…
Wake up, Lucy!
And I did.
I lay blurred and still, as lifeless as my dreaming corpse, and still no certain idea of whether I was alive or dead. Hunger grumbled in my gut and a torturous thirst parched my lips, but still my body refused to acknowledge that simple call to life. Instead, I began to resign myself to the death I had dreamed (or lived?), wishing my cabin door would open – willing it to open – and admit my killer.
‘Welcome. Finish it. Deliver my memoirs.’
Still I didn’t move.
A noise outside my cabin door. Definitely a person. It sounded like they were trying to open other doors along the hall.
Must move. Couldn’t if I tried. Is death to be a consciousness trapped forever within oneself? Forever a soul without a voice? Would it be Purgatory? Or a much more certain Hell?
The collective harassment of my aches, pains, hunger and fear, still weren’t enough to return me to life. In the end, it was the pressing need to make use of my toilet that finally resurrected me – ignoble night soil. But I’m glad I didn’t take any of the colostomy bags from sickbay. I’d probably still be in bed right now, neither dead, nor alive.
I still feel the movement of the ocean, and the shifting of its black heart.