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  • Jo Clement

A dream of horses

Last night (or probably this morning - when do dreams happen?) I was on my old 204 school bus. Upstairs on the very back seat, in the space I inherited from my brother when he got pulled from secondary. Every seat taken with the familiar backs of heads.


An egg smashed on a blue Adidas messenger. The window behind me, which doubled as the fire escape, opened up. One of the lads I went to primary with threw an open packet of crisps at the window of the car travelling behind us, which landed messily on the windscreen and bonnet. When I turned back, every seat was empty. A frayed hole in the seventies seat covering spewed out orange sponge, with pieces fingered off in bitty chunks.


The bus ploughed off road right onto the South Park field, which was full of hundreds of wooden carts, painted with folksy fingers. I clamber down the curling stairs, clinging to the handrail. The automatic doors swing open, just as a chestnut horse, with hocks taller than the bus galloped past.  Leaving a stagger of hoof dents in the grass, it headed toward the Skerne and leapt right over the line of old oak trees. Behind me, a normal sized horse, creamy white, nuzzles my shoulder. Velvet. He is tethered to those useless handles you grip onto for dear life when there are too many people for you to sit down. I untie him, lead him out, climb his back and gallop quickly towards the bridge where granddad would lose his wing mirrors too many times to tell. The floor is stained with pigeon white, deep as snow. A train passes over nosily, shaking the dew from the spider nets on the bare brick walls.  We head back to our first house on the estate. Number 26. Roses all in a circle. Her house beside. She waves from behind the net curtains, then disappears. I won't go there today. Our house is empty, like it is sometimes when I come here. The windows are taped up with yellowed newspaper and through the pane, I see bills and newspapers piled on the porch floor. I close the white plastic door behind me and trace the wallpaper, padded out with rainbows, painted over and over with white vinyl.   There is a knock. Through the patterned glass, I see the mottled version of my granddad. Wilde tall, walking stick in his gold ringed hands, wearing a hat like he always did. He’s dead. But not now. His straw hat, his yellow white hair and smell of tweed. His silhouette is softened by the glass but he does not move an inch. Neither do I, reaching as still as I can for the handle. It isn't him. It is Leonard Cohen, grinning from the brim of the fishing hat, the bright fluffy flies I'd unhook. Their old hooded eyes, white hair and placing of their features match. But Cohen speaks with the voice I remember to be my granddad's. He smiles with his teeth. There was a mistake, he tells me. He is my grandda now, hugging me tightly into that softened tweed. At this point, I wake up.

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