Fingers By D.I. Jolly
Martin sat nervously outside his doctor’s office, trying not to stare at the receptionist. Hoping that she wouldn’t work out that he had had a massive crush on her since he started coming to see Dr Franklin. She did of course know, and thought he was cute, in a funny kind of way, but had a personal policy against getting involved with patients.
Dr Franklin stood on the other side of his office door taking a long slow breath to compose himself, before smiling and opening the door.
“Martin, good to see you again. Please, come on in.”
Martin took a moment to steady his bouncing legs before standing.
“Thank you doc.”
He took his usual seat and waited for Dr Franklin to get back to his desk before starting.
“I had the dream again three times last week, three times. Twice in a row. I still don’t know what it means, and I look forward to you getting your research back.”
Dr Franklin let his face lighten as he smiled, knowing full well he had no intention of ever spending time researching the dream.
“Martin, dreams can have many meanings, there is no one single answer to a dream. The same dream at different times in a person’s life can also signify very different things.”
“I know, I know but still.”
“And are you sure it’s exactly the same every time?”
“Yes!… Well, maybe?”
“Oh, that sounds like something, what’s that maybe?”
Martin let his mind look back into his dreams, and let them play again. His problem, the reason he’d started coming to see Dr Franklin in the first place wasn’t actually his nightmares. It was how vividly he had them, and how real they were. He still hadn’t told the doctor this, for fear of being locked up, but his dreams were like memories. He lived each and every one of them and had lost track of what were real memories and which were dreams. Which is what brought him to the doctor, at the point when he felt completely trapped by the pain and isolation of it all; he decided to find help, someone to know the dreams who didn’t directly impact on his day to day life, someone to act as a reference marker for his real memories. As he looked back into his weeks dreams now, his mind and vision filled with them.
They always started the same way, he’d open his eyes to the dream world as if waking up only he was never in a bed. He was normally walking somewhere or in the case of this particular dream, he’d just ended a speech to a crowd of millions who were all standing and applauding enthusiastically. Martin had never worked out what he’d said or even what the topic was that had everyone so excited. When the dream had started he first tried to get someone to explain to him what he had been talking about, but that quickly resulted in the crowd turning against him. The light would get lower and darkness would creep up the walls and the nightmare would begin. At some point the darkness would attack him, wrapping around his spine and pulling him down into the floor, into the darkness. The crowd around him supporting it, pushing him down, pulling his hand free from support. It wasn’t uncommon for his back to spasm in the waking world, and for him to cry out in pain.
But as the dream had evolved he’d learnt to just try to play it out, try to get to the end. Which he’d gotten very good at, but now it was different again, somehow. As he looked back into his mind now, sitting in Dr Franklin’s office a new memory came up. A hand… a hand taking hold of his, interlocking fingers. It was only for a moment than it was gone again. A shiver ran over his body as he remembered a momentary feeling of comfort, safety and support, and then the dread of it disappearing and the nightmare arriving to drag him away.
Dr Franklin saw the subtle change in Martin’s face and sat up awaiting his explanation, careful not to make any sounds that might break his concentration. All at once Martin’s eyes refocused on the world around him, and his jaw set.
“I have to go home.”
“What? Wait, what’s going on?”
Martin quickly rose and started for the door.
“I’m sorry doctor, I’ve just, I’ve just got to go home.”
Dr Franklin rose and followed him, protesting, trying to make him come back and explain what had just happened, but Martin moved like a man possessed out the door, down the street and was gone. It didn’t take him long to get back to his flat where he immediately threw up from fear, but his resolve stayed strong. He rinsed his mouth out, then took two sleeping pills. Quickly he filled every bottle and glass he could with water and put them around his bed, then put the pills is easy to reach and closed his eyes. It took three days 8 pills and two buckets full of sick, which had turned into a mix of water and blood before he first felt the hand brush against his again. Desperately he pushed his mind towards that feeling and tried to grab onto it, but the nightmare would come almost immediately afterwards. His hands shook as he threw back 3 more pills and closed his eyes once more. This time he was ready and as the fingers slipped between his, he didn’t hold fast, and panic he just closed his hand around them and accepted it. Instantly the whole dreamscape changed and he found himself staring at a being of light. His body filled with joy, not fear. It reached forward and gently took his other hand and a tear slipped from his eye as the smile spread across his face. So touched, and so moved by the power of such a simple action.
When Martin hadn’t turned up for work for a week, phone calls had started being made, and when the policed kicked in his door they found him still in bed, still smiling and with his hands locked together.