When dreams are vivid, and real.

Submitted into Contest #32 in response to: Write a story about someone who can pause time or re-live old memories at will.... view prompt



"If you really want to hear about it, I dreamt I was with her... again. I lay my head on the pillow and closed my eyes, and suddenly she was right before me. It was our first date. She wore a pink blouse and blue skinny jeans. I could always remember what clothes she wore, so this wasn't new to me. But when I saw her last night, she was wearing a bracelet. I never remembered that. I had been with her for 5 years and I never remember her wearing any bracelets during that time."

"Yeah but... this is just a dream, right?" Mike, my colleague, interrupted me in between mouthfuls on our lunch break. He had asked me how I've been lately, and I told him I hadn't had a good sleep, because of a dream I had. He asked me about it. At first I hesitated; it was too personal. But I really wanted to just tell someone about the bracelet.

Mike continued, "Also, your dreams sound so... vivid! My dreams are always a messy blur; I only ever remember vague notions of what happened. Anyway, that's intense you dreamed about your first date together. How are you feeling?"

I paused.

What Mike didn't know was... I can control my dreams. In fact, they're not actually dreams because I'm not actually sleeping. I'm reliving old memories.

do tend to only relive my memories at night though, or at least when I'm alone, because to the outsider it really does look like I'm sleeping. My eyes are closed and my body goes limp so I don't move around like I did in those memories.

I can also choose how long I want to relive the memory for. I simply concentrate on the event, tell myself how long I want to relive it for, and it happens.

Recently, I've been choosing to relive 8 hours of each memory overnight, during the time that I'd usually be sleeping.

The problem is that I'm not actually getting any sleep. I'm fully conscious the entire time, so I can get really groggy at work the next day. Mike noticed this and asked me about it today.

"I... I'm fine." I finally replied to him. I couldn't tell him that I felt guilty for never realising she wore a bracelet on our first date, and I was starting to regret ever opening up to him in the first place.

"Hey, listen, mate. You're going through a tough time, and it's not good if you're having all these vivid dreams about her, that's not gonna help at all. But you can talk to me." Mike's mouth hung open as if he was about to say more, but he quickly took another mouthful of his toasted sandwich.

I kept twirling my canned spaghetti around my fork. I haven't been cooking any meals to try and maximise the time I get to relive my moments with her. I haven't had a proper meal for a few weeks already.

Mike carried on, "So, you got any plans this weekend?" God I wish he could just stop talking and let me eat in peace.

"Nope." I replied. But of course, I did have plans: to relive some more memories.

"Well hey, I was gonna go to a local footy match with my mates, wanna come?" Mike smiled at me.

"Oh no, no thank you. I... I just need some time to myself right now." I quickly said, shoving some of that canned spaghetti into my mouth to avoid talking any more.

Besides, I never hung out with Mike. Ever. Not even... before. I knew he was just inviting me out of pity. I didn't want anyone's pity. I just wanted to be with her again.

Mike nodded silently.

I first found out I could relive old memories when I was 22. Not when I reached puberty like those mutants did in those X-Men films.

It was weird, because I was at a stage where I felt like I finally knew who I was growing up to be.

I had started a new job as a software engineer after years of studying and "soul searching". I moved out of home. I had met her, and fallen in love. I discovered I liked playing the guitar. I was starting to understand who I was becoming.

And suddenly, everything I thought I knew about myself went out the window. Suddenly, I had this weird ability to travel back in time. Although I realised I wasn't actually time travelling, because I didn't have my present day mind in my past self.

No, everything stayed the same. I relived memories and with them I relived past feelings, played out the same conversations and actions, and wasn't able to change anything.

I used to hate it because I would realise that often some fond memories, once properly relived, were actually a little skewed. Sometimes I would think about a funny thing that happened in high school, then I would relive it. Only for me to wake up cringing from how I talked as a teenager, how I styled my hair, and how many cues I missed from all the girls that were interested in me.

I rarely relived memories. And if I did, they would only be for things that happened recently, or things that I truly wanted to experience again. When she went overseas for a business trip and I was missing her. When I wanted to taste that delicious (yet expensive) dessert from that fancy fine dining restaurant. When I wanted to go back to Paris without the hefty price tag.

Apart from that, my reality was better than my memories.

"Anyway, let me know if you ever want to hang. As I said, you can talk to me." Mike stood up and placed his empty dishes in the dishwasher.

I looked at my watch and realised my entire lunch hour had passed and I'd only eaten half of the canned spaghetti.

I quickly forked the rest of my meal down into my throat. Slurping the noodles and swallowing without ever chewing.

I cleaned up, and headed back to work.

These next few hours are going to be productive, I told myself.

Well, they had to be. A productive day meant the day went quicker. It was quicker to home time, and quicker for me to relive my moments with her.

I lived for the night. I lived for the memories, and the chance to escape from reality again.

March 13, 2020 11:47

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