Friday, October 30, 2009

I went to a reunion of ‘old girls’ at Vaucluse, my senior school. I travelled through the grounds with one of my younger sisters who had also attended the school, one year below me. At one point we decided to travel down a long chute. It would be steep, I thought, like going down a slide in the park; only this one was long. I could almost feel my body torn apart in anticipation of the speed, but once inside the chute we slid down gracefully, not too fast as I had feared, but comfortably as if there were some traction between our bums and the surface of the tunnel. It was made of blue plastic.

After we landed at the bottom we stood inside a small room at whose centre stood a table covered in a fancy silk cloth. Another girl, who also once went to our school, a girl who had boarded with me, whose name was the same as that of my sister, soon followed us. But this girl was big, whereas my sister now and in the dream is and was pretzel thin.

There was a note pad on the table that included names and addresses. I flicked through it hoping to find a sign of my favourite nun from school days. But her name was not there.

Then I was inside a church with a gathering of ‘old girls’ from my class. A few recognised me but no one seemed interested in taking time to talk to me beyond an initial hello. I looked at the faces of these ‘old girls’. I peered through the present into the past, past layers of wrinkles and grey hair, to find the girls I might remember.

I was desperate to find someone who had been meaningful to me when I was at school, but before I knew it I was preparing for the train trip home. The train took ages to arrive. After I had stepped inside, it took even more time to assemble itself for the trip. Seats folded and unfolded, panels snapped open and shut, as of they were orchestrated by some invisible machine.

Once it took off the train travelled fast, so fast that some people, including me were thrown out of their seats. My body bashed up against a partition midway through the carriage and I held onto a couple of small children who had also been flung from their seats. When the train reached its destination I realised we were back where we had started.

The weather had turned foul by now, with sleet and rain bordering on snow. It was dark and freezing cold. I tried to walk across the mud to the next train. Three other trains arrived at the same time. I had no idea which one to take.

I could not get traction in the mud and seemed to be walking without getting anywhere. Someone hoisted me up onto the train, but I realised almost immediately that I was on the wrong train yet again. I woke up breathless.

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