In my dream I was a younger version of myself, back in my mid to late twenties. I had been accepted to start my studies at the University of Melbourne and one of my sisters/daughters was about to get married. The place where I lived, my family home - though there were no parents there. It was as if I were in charge of the household as I am in real life today – was in utter chaos, stuff everywhere. In between trying to tidy up in readiness for the wedding which was to be held at home, I was preparing to move out, packing my clothes.
I was also working and awaiting the arrival of a first patient who never materialised. I could not reach the front door to check for him. The hallway was being renovated and there were ladders stacked in the way. Before the wedding I found myself at the Flinders Street clocks ready to move across the lights and head off in the direction of my new home. I had planned to rent rooms in the middle of the city up near Carlton, near the university.
My sister had negotiated the rooms for me on the phone. As yet we had not seen them. I came without my luggage wanting to check in as it were. On the walk along Swanston Street at the next set of lights a young tradesman who had been working on a nearby building started to flirt with me. He had a delightful Irish accent, the sort that I find seductive but I was determined to ignore him. He called over to his friends and began to behave as though he and I were in a relationship. I ignored him but did not send him packing.
We went inside a building and together watched a man selling fish. The fishmonger was actually inside a gigantic fish tank with the fish which had already been filleted and cleaned. It was as if he were swimming among great swathes of squid and the flesh of giant sea fish, barramundi, marlin and the like. He held fast to a sharp knife and sliced layers from the fish, cutting off thin slices whenever a customer made a request.
I asked for some fish but the bag in which the fishmonger put it dripped water onto the floor. I asked my Irish friend to help and another man came by. He carried special beads of some material that absorbed moisture and sealed off holes. He applied this to the leak in my bag and it was sealed immediately.
The Irish fellow followed me when I reached the corridor from which my newly rented room led. I realised with a start that I had forgotten the key but the landlady came by and offered to open the room for me with her spare. We walked through the door together, all three of us, me, the landlady who was young, the daughter of the owners perhaps, and my new Irish friend.
I looked across into what seemed like a broom closet of a room with a narrow bed in one corner and a short divan type arrangement against the opposite wall. I thought immediately this is far too small and then I looked up and saw that the ceiling was as high as four floors and in between on each floor several other such room arrangements, some of which included whole families, were suspended. I could see a cot and a mother nursing her baby about three floors up.
‘I can’t live here,’ I wanted to say but I did not want to upset my landlady.
We sat on the edge of the bed, my Irishman and me, and I began to cry. He comforted me and talked of the possibilities of the place. At least there was a window that looked onto a wide stretch of lawn. Lawn in the middle of the city, how could that be? And then I realised that to rent a place in the city would necessarily involve compromise. There were no big places available for minimal rents. I would have to make do.
I dreamed I picked lice eggs from a young girl’s hair. The eggs were dead. They had been treated with a pesticide which the chemist prescribes to kill lice, but the eggs clung to each shaft of hair as if their lives depended on it.
I found them near her scalp, white and shrunken, empty now of life. I took each egg between the nail of my thumb and forefinger and peeled it down the shaft. I pinched my finger nails together as if I were crushing a flea. The girl sat obligingly beneath my scrutiny. I rifled through her hair in search of more eggs and all the time I feared I might find live lice, lice that had somehow avoided the poison, lice that could continue to escape and jump onto other heads and infect them there with more eggs and hatchings.
Dream 30 december 2012.
My husband and I walked into our kitchen after an outing and found a woman standing there at the table. It was clear she had just made a telephone call. The receiver was in her hands.
‘Who are you? I asked and what are you doing here? I walked over and tried to stop her call by pressing the end-call button.
‘Too late,’ she said. ‘The others are already on their way.’
'I’m calling the police,' I said to my husband, but he seemed non-perplexed. I did not want to ring 000. This was not an emergency, at least not yet, but I could not remember the number for the local police station. I ran out onto the street and asked passers by if they knew the number. No luck.
I went over to my neighbour’s and in the distance saw a small group of men. They were making their way to our house and they were each carrying heavy loads. One couple shared the weight of a long machine, an earth working machine by the look of it.
I knew then that they had come for the purpose of working on our house in some way, but we had not invited them to come. What was this all about? My neighbour knew nothing of the police number and she too like my husband seemed non-perplexed at the thought of these men invading her space.
I noticed two or three men in my neighbour's back garden now. They were about to lop off branches from two rose bushes. The bushes had already been pruned, and stood skeletal against the sky line.
‘Don’t you dare touch those roses unless you know what to do. They've already been pruned.’
The men held off and walked over to other plants further down the garden.
My neighbour’s husband stood in the front garden. I told him I wanted to call the police and asked him if he knew the number.
‘I wouldn’t give it to you even if I had it,' he said. 'These blokes are doing a good enough job.’
‘But we never asked them to,’ I said. ‘And what will they charge? They’re duplicating work that’s already done.’
‘Don’t worry so much,’ my neighbour said and I walked off even angrier than before.
In my front garden I saw three men working on a stretch of green lawn. They had laid out sheets of plastic over the surface of the grass and were working on it in small patches across the stretch of lawn.
‘What in hell’s name do you think you’re doing,’ I asked. They looked intimidated but did not stop and I woke up.