27th September


for Helena Nelson

I had a dream in which I had forgotten almost everything. I knew what it felt like to be without memory, but not what the things were that I had forgotten.

I was in an empty flat space like a great grey blanket. I knew the word ‘blanket’ and what it meant. My feet sank into the greyness but only so far. It was a long way to go somewhere else. I was very tired.

My feet were far away. One moment I was a giant, the next I was an ant. I did not know what an ant was. I only knew the word and that it meant small.

I had clothes on but had I dressed myself or had somebody dressed me? The clothes did not feel right. Perhaps they were not mine.

I thought if I could only meet someone who knew me, they would help me. They could say my name. ‘Hello,’ they would say, and then a name. That would be a start.

I thought if there could be a start I might be able to remember.

But I did not know if anybody knew me. I saw faces but I could not give them names. Faces came at me and went away without saying ‘Hello’.

I wanted to sit but the greyness would not let me. It made me sick. I had to stand. I was so tired I stood with my eyes closed.

Sometimes you wake up knowing you have been dreaming even though you can’t remember the dream. When I opened my eyes I did not know if I had been dreaming or even asleep, but I remembered having forgotten everything.

This frightened me. I decided not to move until I was sure I was awake and not still dreaming.

I watched the ceiling, the bedside lamp, the white sheet, the painting of trees on the wall. I watched them until I was sure I had not forgotten them.

I called out. Nobody came and then somebody did. I don’t know if they knew me. They helped me get dressed. ‘Hello,’ they said.

I am waiting for them to say a name. That will be a start.

Reader: Gerda Stevenson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Subscribe here for more stories & music