Sarah Long 2

OK, I think we should turn on all the lights because I’ve been having the weirdest fucking dreams. I don’t usually have dreams. Well, if I do, I usually forget them unless I have someone to tell, like right away, within the first couple of minutes of waking, when my eyes are still swimming in woolly pools of colours and my throat feels thick and a little dry. It is in these scanty moments before the day slaps me across the face in all its cocksure splendour that I can recall my dreams. My future self, ageing peculiarly with hair that grows darker with each coming year, never turning grey; a wolf in my childhood bedroom being forced to return to work in places I despise. I know of course that the only person who is supposed to care about your dreams is your lover. It’s the best part of being in love if you ask me. You roll over and begin to direct your ramblings to the heat on the other side of the bed, your husky tone adding a welcome eldritch air to the visions. I know you usually only tell your dreams to lovers but… won’t you? Love me?

I had a dream—William Martin Murphy whispered in my ear I was a good girl. He followed me around all day long. When I was in the Post Office collecting my Jobseekers’, when I was standing in front of the painting of the pretty woman off the old banknotes at the Crawford Art Gallery, even when I was scrolling through The Journal.ie comments sauntering around Paul Street. He followed me until I had had enough of him and I goes, ‘look, you’d want to fuck off now, ok?.’ I didn’t say it in a nasty way. I kind of laughed, exasperated, like he was being a bit of a rogue and I was all for fun-and-games but I had to get on with my day at some point and surely-be-to-God he could see that. ‘I’m going to have to do a food shop in a minute and I can’t have you fecking hanging off me like a bleddy gombeen.’ He started growling then, real low and menacing like. I was starting to get pretty pissy by now so I said ‘G’wan away now you, ya fecking tosser. Would ya g’way ya string a piss’ and then he bit me. It was fucking insane. He bit me. His two front teeth sank into my upper arm. And I had to shake him off cas he had clamped down on me. And then he said the strangest thing. He said we don’t die and the greatest trick we’ve ever managed to pull is to convince people that we do. And it was fucking depressing the way he said it but then I thought it was kind of glorious too. And he whispered in my ear, ‘Now forget all about me like a good girl. Forget l’m here at all and go on away about your day. Go on away about your life. There’s a good girl’.

Some other strange things happened in the dream too of course. Like the bins were overflowing on all the streets because the lads were on strike and James Connolly was singing a queer tune. Jimmy Hoffa was there too only he wasn’t really Jimmy Hoffa, he was Al Pacino speaking in an Irish accent saying, ‘…just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.’ He was asking people to sign up to a union but when I got closer I saw it was just a form for a Tesco Clubcard. Anyway, I end up running and running, cas I’m terrified now you see, I’m sweating and for some reason the gardaí are chasing me at this stage and I turn the corner and I’m somehow on O’ Connell Street and I see the big Jim Larkin statue in the middle of the street and I see his hands high above his head and realise he is no longer preaching or proclaiming but yelling and screaming to God to pull him out and to save him from this shitshow.

We don’t die and the greatest trick we’ve ever managed to pull is to convince people that we do.

I woke up around this point but I couldn’t get these words out of my head.

We don’t die and the greatest trick we’ve ever managed to pull is to convince people that we do.

I had always thought that being dead meant that you would be bloody or rotting in some way so I was terrified when my family gathered in the funeral home to say goodbye to my Granny. My mother said I didn’t have to look in the coffin if I didn’t want to but my dad, offended that I wouldn’t look at the woman he adored, lifted me up and there I saw her lying; small, perfect and dressed in blue. I’m here now and she’s gone. But she’s not gone because I’m here now and I still remember how she told me it wasn’t nice to purposefully rile my sister and how she thought a farm should be run.

I guess the same thing goes for our pal Willy. Someone absent-mindedly popped him in their pocket and he festered away in there until he was driving them by the seat of their pants. Or he caught a hold of a light wind and swung himself into the badly lit part of a pub and in time you could begin to hear some strange mutterings spilling into pints. Or worse still he became the warm air in a stuffy little office and his voice would ring out in a screech every time a chair was pulled back with a scrape at the end of a business meeting. In fact I think if he were to just wait out there in the fields some fecking sap would come along to lick him off the rocks and end up saying something silly like ‘isn’t it grand holidays the teachers get’ or ‘nobody wants to work these days` with a straight face.

Anyway to tell you the truth, the reason I’m telling you all this is, well the really mad thing is my arm has been kind of sore ever since. I know it sounds mad. I just said it was mad. Look, you can laugh all you want but all I know is the top of my arm is a bit achy, right where he would have bit me and I swear I’m starting to think it wasn’t a dream at all, at all.

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Sarah Long is an artist and writer based in Cork. This text was created as part of her Critic-in-Residence at Sirius Arts Centre, Cork (2023). She is the editor of The Paper, an online publication of art criticism and art writing.