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The Dream Village

 
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#1 | Posted: 24 May 2020 09:32 | Edited by: Admin 
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The Dream Village
(Story 23 - not yet proofread!)
(Meryl's journey from the dark into the light)

(para 1 - the idea)

The village had remained empty for years, suddenly though, various aspects had shown some activity. The whole place had lit up like a Xmas tree at one stage, with the shops teeming with life, teeming with happiness, teeming with smiling faces, with her own beaming features among them. The raising of the grey veil had elicited an emotional response which was incredibly uplifting even in her unconscious state, smoothing out a few worry lines along the way. Why the place had remained a ghost town for so long, devoid of anything remotely alive, was beyond her understanding at this time. She usually wandered the empty streets totally alone, the blackened windows seemingly judging her every footstep - calling out to her if anything - asking questions she had no answers for. Now though, all of a sudden, life took hold, with people going about their business as if on holiday, with pockets bulging and with apparent eagerness to spend it all on the frivolous and fun things on display in the well stocked shops. It was wonderful, but far too short-lived as the daily grind beckoned. The alarm clock signaled the start to another exasperating day. Meryl was annoyed to be interrupted in such a manner. Why couldn't she just roll over and go back to sleep? What did life have to offer rather than drudgery and dismay? At least the gloom and despondency was lifting from her dream state. It had never done so before. The draw of her still vivid dream was practically overwhelming, but she knew she couldn't miss yet another day of work. Slowly but surely she made ready for another foray into her troublesome daily existence, with its overwhelmingly judgemental, lonely routine being all too familiar to her.

Para 2 ...

Why was it that every movement or consideration was so exhausting? Even getting out of bed was just so much trouble. Why indeed was this after sleeping for a good 8 hours solid? This was in stark contrast to the amount of sleep she required as a teenager. Life seemed to offer so much more then. The opportunities had been limitless, and just like a few of her more adventurous school friends she had rushed forward to embrace them all, there not being enough hours in the day to satisfy her curiosity. Now though, just a mere 10 years later, a constant heaviness rested on her drooping and vulnerable shoulders, shoulders that were once held high, being so young, strong and unburdened. Not only this but she also suffered from a dullness of the mind which was an accompanying mental condition thereby adding to the daily strain. Meryl felt overloaded with the weight of her own world. A world where acceptance was sorely lacking. One she traversed as if a ghost amongst the living. A true reversal of her dream state in effect.

Para 3 ...

Meryl could literally sleep her life away if allowed to. Even so her rest was not of the sort that repaired the body and mind helping them face another day. Her dreams were disturbing, keeping her anxious and worried thereby on waking she was none the better for it, yet to be adrift in a world of her own making was preferable to her awake state where she had little choice in the matter - what crossed her path in the land of the living was clearly out of her control. Sleep then, and the desire for it, were both growing in length and potency.

Para 4 ...

How did Meryl come to be as she was - clearly depressed by all accounts? There is a hint, a clue, above. The carefree, irresponsible days of youth is where she had felt most at home and happy. Clearly then, the problems of adulthood had effectively smothered her enthusiasm for life. At this stage of the game she was on the losing side and in danger of giving up completely, if life can be seen to be a game of sorts, that is. Do we have to unravel what affected her in this way? No, not really. Could be one grievance in particular or an accumulation of many. Whatever it or they were Meryl was not up to the task of defendIng herself from their harmful affects. Meryl might have traveled a full 10 years into her burgeoning womenhood but the steps she had taken whilst doing so appear to have been of the wrong sort. Maybe she had danced to the wrong tune from day one? But you can always learn a new dance now can't you - to 'cut the rug' in a completely different style and manner is always an option; after-all, to continue to drift along in such an inconsequential manner in one reality and to walk totally alone in another of your own making hardly seems right and proper. All the while Meryl contemplated what this new aspect to her dream could be - this new energy she had been an active part of? Funnily enough it made her feel no better about things in general. If anything she felt even more tired as a result - becoming slightly more withdrawn too, which was somewhat ominous.

Para 5 ...

Where had it all gone wrong then? This is a difficult one to answer. The joys of youth are based on what exactly? Well, for one thing, a great many 'youths' are not overly burdened with responsibility. They are carefree, allowed to come and go as they please without considering anything other than their own immediate needs. Not all are like this admittedly, not to the same degree, but I should think it is a natural condition in all, being tempered by paternal pressure only in some. Meryl had been a delight as a child and teenager and would be now if in the right environment. Well then, she was obviously not in the right environment at this time in her life's journey. Meryl had rushed out of the house into the world of grown-ups only to find it wasn't how she thought it would be. There were so many pressures being brought to bear. Slowly but surely the shine faded from the much desired freedom she had once so eagerly sought, to be replaced with a heavily biased reward system that hardly made any effort worthwhile, the discomforts - the constraints and obligations creating even more of an unbalance along the way. Meryl was in the wrong place, with the wrong people and now with a very wrong view of the future, effectively blanketing her in a soul-sapping melancholic mist, made up of elements that were at complete loggerheads with her own passions and aspirations. She was being drained of energy all the more as she continued headlong down the same road, one seemingly lacking turn-offs, junctions, needed to make the all important change in direction. Trapped then in life, but not so in her dreams.

Para 6 ...

Nothing had lit up. Nothing had come alive. The streets and shops had remained empty. Her wandering through the dead walkways of her mind was even more unsettling than usual. She was now looking for something as opposed to just walking forward blindly. An element of danger had been injected too as she felt compelled to investigate the higher floors of abandoned buildings, the floors of which were untrustworthy, with great big empty spaces in some and with a single creaking board the only path to take at times. Whatever she was looking for she never found. Never caught a glimpse of it. Returning to the hub of her dreamworld just led to more disappointment as the whole place was utterly lifeless. Whatever had sparked off the fanfare of her previous dream state turning the heart of her nightmare into a veritable Shangri-la was solely missing this time around. Would she ever see the lights, the smiling faces, and feel the joy and acceptance ever again? Surely to sleep all the more would lead to a breakthrough - a discovery - a revelation? The unmasking had eluded her though no matter how long she had slept, not on this this particular night anyway.

Para 7 ...

Meryl didn't live in a bubble. Those around her could tell she wasn't herself. Life can be tough though so self-preservation can appear a cruel bedfellow to those who might require a little help themselves. Someone's pain can be too much to bear if their own life is already subject to hurt of a similar sort. A 'stiff upper lip' is also promoted by some as a means to stave off weak moral or behavioural attitudes - attitudes that they think can demoralise and cripple a person unduly should they self indulge in them for too long. Between these two points of view then help was not forthcoming from those who had adopted one or the other of these coping mechanisms. Meryl's affliction wouldn't have been tempered by either approach anyway, hadn't been, but it wasn't for want of trying. A creeping, insidious and debilitating condition had undoubtedly taken hold of her by this time but it hadn't appeared overnight. One disappointment after another - one failure after another - one realisation after another had eventually eroded her confidence to the extent life had become a lonely and unsettling place to be. And then we have those who bask in the misfortunes of others - the bullies. Meryl had lost so much of her moral fibre by this time she was in no fit state to rally to any cause even one of defending herself from direct harm - be it physical or mental in nature. She was on a road to no-where as things stood - or on a road to somewhere even more painful to be. Meryl then turned her attention inwards in the hope of finding solace in her own mental gymnastics - her imagination and fantasies, the content of which was unfortunately stuck in the dark and dreary. What then had been the break from the norm? Why had light shone in the darkness? Would she ever visualise such an intoxicating vista again? The shops had remained dead and cold with not a breath of animated life anywhere near them. Her dreams took on a more callous quality it seemed to her - enticing her all the more yet failing to deliver the goods. But they could at some time so she took to her bed or slept on the couch all the more.

Para 8 ...

The interpretation of dreams is never an easy one to make, but the changes in her nightmare scenario were so profound they must have held something tangible - something that would help her to understand what they meant. For one thing the shops had remained stubbornly bereft of any sort of action until now. So, why now? What had changed so dramatically in the last few days? And the searching? This was also very new. Could it be Meryl was looking for answers in entirely in the wrong place? inside of her head instead of from reality itself? Meryl was simply going with the flow here as she wasn't well enough to take on any further considerations. Her dreams had offered some sort of hope, some sort of way out from all that assailed her - or so she thought. Where had the celebrations gone and how could she get them back? The searching, although seemingly out of place, was alarming yet beguiling at the same time. She felt she was looking for someone, not something - someone very important to her, but it was undoubtedly a very dangerous undertaking, one likely to cause her great harm should that person reject her. Why and who was it? Not a sign of either appeared though and her dreams carried an added weight of despair from then on in.

Para 9 ...

Her daily routine had hardly changed, or so it would seem to less discerning eyes, but one thing out of the ordinary had occurred - a blast from the past had reared its head unexpectedly. Meryl had received an invitation to a 10 year reunion from one of her old classmates. She had no intention of going. The whole affair reeked of embarrassment as she was concerned as her own achievements had amounted to very little, nothing much at all in fact. Her eagerness to leave all forms of learning behind had effectively curtailed all forms of self advancement in the job market, thereby only mundane and medial positions were hers for the taking. Her work resume was hardly one to brag about as a result. But one very good idea had crossed her mind through being prompted in this manner, that being further tuition of sorts. For a little while there Meryl actually played with the notion of night school or even some sort of Open University course. It was just a fleeting reflection though. She lacked the wherewithal and energy needed to make such a commitment, the mere thought was draining enough. It made her all the more sad in fact to think back to what could have been and the type of life she could have led had she applied herself when the time was right. Her mind conjured up an imagined scenario where she could be happy in the company of her old acquaintances, one where attending the reunion wouldn't be fraught with doubt and uncertainty but with confidence and pleasure. The imagery faded away quite quickly though leaving Meryl deflated all the more if anything. But it was a glimpse of something attainable if nothing else - a doorway to another life entirely - a fleeting vision of a welcome transformation should she ever take the plunge. Was this the reason for the injection of vitality into the heart of her dream world? If it was then what was the all important but disquieting searching? What had prompted this other baffling deviation from the norm?

Para 10 ...

Where were her parents during all this emotional upheaval? They were still there, offering support when and how they could, be it emotional or financial when required, though Meryl was loathe to ask for either. To Meryl's great dismay and utter sadness she felt a return to the fold was very much on the cards, itself further undermining her status and bearing. The pressure of work and having to meet all her bills along with the rent of her flat were proving just too heavy a burden. Employment of the sort she could acquire not only meant the one but two jobs were necessary to keep a roof over her head, and both took a heavy toll on her wellbeing. It had become apparent to her a long while back that there was a vast difference between a summer job and one where there was no other option to be had. The thought of being stuck in such mediocrity - banality for evermore was soul destroying to her. So, eventually, she ended up back in her old room at her parent's house. At first this was so dispiriting as to bring her to tears more often than not, but once settled in again she felt much relieved if anything. Just the thought of returning to the work she had been carrying out, and once again mixing in the same company, sickened her to the stomach. The 'short stay' ended up being so much more. It was very much required though to help Meryl recharge some of her emotionally drained batteries, but they were slow to respond all the same, it being but a trickle charge if anything. Nevertheless, Meryl was eternally grateful her parents were so supportive and close to hand. Still, she carried a heavy weight around with her wherever she went regardless, a mental ball and chain holding her back from enjoying life to the full if at all. Not only was she down in the dumps to a dangerous degree for one reason or another but now she considered herself a failure at life as well which effectively compounded the issue. The combination kept her very subdued and weepy more often than not. Her parents were concerned but at a loss on how to fix their once bubbly daughter.

Para 11 ...

The vagaries and meanderings of the unconscious mind are truly awe inspiring, but never lacking in focus or meaning. Dreams might appear to be haphazard reflections where nothing makes any sense, as if cut scenes are plucked out of thin air or created by some mad film creator inside your own head, but they are never so. They take their meaning from your own experiences held in the dark recesses of your own mind, where everything is represented by symbols and imagery. Well then, all these worldly changes affected Meryl's nightly slumber, but strangely enough her dreams remained fairly constant, but there were some obvious alterations, as you would expect - quite profound ones at that. Meryl still found herself in the same old colourless landscape, with the same old buildings, with the focal-point being the stagnant empty shopping centre, but in the far off distance lights were to be seen beyond a boundary that hadn't existed before - an edge had appeared - a limit to her barren landscape. Something now existed where once there had been nothing at all. It was another village of sorts, but one where life appeared to be in situ. Meryl felt compelled to cross this boundary, to see for herself what this new village contained and who inhabited the occupied buildings, but the village moved away at the same speed as her approach. It kept out of her reach however she tried to shorten the distance between them. At least the searching had stopped for now, which was something - a welcome reprieve if nothing else, but it didn't last.

Para 12 ...

Meryl felt stuck between a rock and a hard place, not knowing which way to turn. She had to do something. She couldn't live off her parents for ever more. Once again the searching became a feature of her taxing stupor. What the hell was she looking for? WHO was she looking for? And why couldn't she cross over to the land of the living? Something or someone was obviously needed to show her the way. Let's face it, transition of the sort now required was never going to be an easy change to make. She had become lost behind the maze like walls of her own mind with absolutely no idea where the exit might be, and all the while she was throwing more fuel on the fire of confusion with her constant, debilitating anxiety. There is only so much a person can take though without breaking down entirely. Was Meryl close to the tipping point? Maybe, just maybe, it would be better Meryl collapsed entirely. At least help would have to come from some avenue of support. Other than this, Meryl was as a fish out of water, lacking vital oxygen to keep alive, with the water's edge ebbing further away from her each and every day.

Para 13 ...

Someone had to do something. It was either do nothing and watch a delightful girl, once so enthused with life, descend into oblivion through her own inaction or carry out an act for her - step in Mam and Dad once again. With Meryl now back on home soil old school friends were close to hand - or at least some were. One in particular had walked a completely different path since her heady teen years, having thrown her lot in with academia eventually, becoming a responsible and qualified teacher of some stature in the intervening years. Such a friend hadn't been all that close but close enough to warrant inclusion in the concocted parental plan - or so they hoped. Not much of a plan really, they simply reached out to Francis with a view to inviting her around to the house - as if calling to see Meryl when passing on hearing of her return to the area. Although it would undoubtedly smack of fakery, it was better than nothing at all. Meryl would have thrown a fit should her parents have proposed such a meeting directly to her face, not wishing to see anyone however linked to her past or present. Francis was taken aback by the request but showed her true mettle and quickly warmed to the idea. She hadn't heard from Meryl for a long time. It would be good to chat about old times again and to catch up on their lives - or so she thought at first. On consideration, and on hearing Meryl's state of mind, she realised some care and consideration was called for. It would not be as straight-forward as at first appeared. Francis' buoyant and positive approach to life won through though in the end. It was upsetting to think of Meryl in such a bad state of affairs, so was therefore determined to help come what may. A date was set and the plan was put into action.

Para 14 ...

Unbeknown to Meryl's parents they couldn't have picked a better person to help even if they tried. Francis was armed with all that was needed to inject some much needed positivity back into this now utterly lost individual. Francis had known Meryl from an early age, all the way through her school years and a little beyond. She knew who Meryl should be and who she should not, they were fixed in her mind. Once armed with all that bothered Meryl's parents about their daughter's state of mind the apparent solution came readily to her as if a bolt out of the blue - a rebirth was called for. It was as simple as that. Her own transformation, from being a flighty teenager to a guide and mentor, was exactly this. Meryl might have lacked qualifications but she had never been stupid - at times quite giddy, yes, but was intelligent nonetheless. Back all those years ago Francis had secretly hoped Meryl might have chosen a different path to tread - one very much like her own come to that. It seemed such a waste of talent and brainpower otherwise, but you couldn't talk in such terms to Meryl back then as she was simply too bullheaded. Francis was wary though of proposing a new approach to life as the pursuit of knowledge is itself littered with the broken minds of many a student. A few budding graduates had fallen by the wayside whilst she was in college herself. The stress of impending adulthood, being away from home and having to study so hard proving too much for them. But first of all Francis had to knock on the door and meet her impending novitiate without appearing false in manner and intention. The more she thought about what could be intrigued her all the more. Francis was definitely warming to the task at hand.

Para 15 ...

The meeting had gone without too much concern. Thankfully Meryl's initial surprise wasn't too upsetting for her. Francis talked by far the more of the two, being only too aware that Meryl's less confident demeanour was subdued for a reason. By doing so it helped put Meryl at ease as she was no-way buoyant enough to respond in a positive or clear-headed and appropriate manner. Francis quickly steered the informal chat away from the present and back to the past, which in this case, proved by far the more relaxing for Meryl, helped her reach out to some of her lost youthful spirit and thereby lifting her own present day spirit a little as a result. All the time this was going on Francis was appraising the state of mind of her friend. It saddened her to see Meryl in such a depressed condition. The depression was very much apparent in Meryl's looks nevermind how she responded to inconsequential chat. Meryl's eyes were a little sunk in her head for one thing, with dark bags formed beneath them. Meryl had also lost weight and as she very rarely ventured outside these days the sun never had a chance to add some colour to her pallor either, which made her appear ghost-like frail in aspect. These were all very worrying signs. Francis was so relieved to have been forewarned else the shock of Meryl's looks on first contact would have been too great a shock to hide. It was obvious to Francis that she needed to do something and soon. It was as much as she could do to keep her own tears at bay during this initial examination, this appraisal for want of a better word. As soon as some flagging occurred in the obviously depleted Meryl she made her excuse and left, but not before making sure it was fine to return to see her friend once again. She did have to force the issue a little as Meryl was still very much lost in her own private world, but the deal was struck nonetheless - thankfully. Francis retired and in time, once the scare had sunk in, began to form a strategy of her own, one she hoped would help turn Meryl's life around.

Para 16 ...

Meryl found the whole episode too demanding as usual - as she did everything requiring effort beyond a certain point, and, as usual, all she could think of was more sleep. As soon as her head hit the sofa cushion she was off in the land of nod once more. Eureka - the shops were alive and welcoming - but there was an alleyway that wasn't there before, leading to further shops deep within. Meryl was drawn to the alleyway and drawn to delving further along the bustling walkway, with shop after shop lining the way. So much life was in evidence, but as in other aspects of her dream she felt compelled to search once more as she was sure someone was ahead of her again, someone leading her somewhere she had never been before. It was an unsettling feeling. Something about the shopping centre was wrong - maybe unhealthy - maybe even dangerous, but all she could see ahead of her were more and more shops. Again, the hunter failed to see the elusive prey and after a while gave up the pursuit. Meryl drifted in and out of various shops instead, be there something wrong with them or not, loving every minute of it, though aware she was merely an onlooker as opposed to a happy shopper herself. At least here though, in her head, in this makeshift world of lively, happy faces, was at least somewhere she felt at ease, even if still very much alone.

Para 17 ...

How do you reach out to the lost and lonely? Well, it very much depends on whether or not such people want help in the first place. What kind of help is open to discussion too. Sometimes such help has to be enforced. Francis couldn't force Meryl to do anything against her will though - as could anyone else. For one thing Meryl wasn't a complete basket case as of yet. She still held opinions of her own allied to a fiery temperament to back them up should the push come to the shove, being all the more likely to fly off the handle in her emotionally distraught state. No, however Francis - or anyone - was to get through to Meryl it had to be by more subtle means. Francis had a brain-wave with regards to all this. When she next visited Meryl she took along some novels in her bag and on the pretext of searching for something deep within her bag she produced and laid them down in Meryl's direct line of sight, the content of which were of a sort that dealt with the very troubles Meryl was herself facing at this time. Francis was hoping Meryl would read one of them - or all of them come to that. By doing so she would see that she was far from being alone in her present state of affairs. Such novels were not too taxing, though not exactly an easy read either. The trick though was to somehow inspire a non-reader such as Meryl to pick up any book in the first place. Once these books were out of her bag Francis quickly changed the subject and rattled on about something to effectively take Meryl's attention elsewhere. The plan had worked so far. The next part of the plan had gone smoothly too, that being Francis departing with the books left behind. So far so good, but would Meryl read any of them? At least she had found them as a phone call confirmed this. Francis informed Meryl that she was in no hurry for the books to be returned and she would pick them up when she next called - in a few weeks time. She also mentioned in passing that the content of the books might be of interest to Meryl herself should she care to read any of them. This was a great plan when you think about it. No forcing - no nagging - no inappropriate cajoling. Should Meryl read such books and gain some benefit from them (hopefully, some insight as to her own condition) it would be of her own doing - her choice in the matter entirely.

Para 18 ...

Meryl wasn't always sleeping, or wanting to sleep for that matter, all of the time. Being at home without any work to carry out meant she had lots of time on her hands. Granted, being so under the weather took more than a little edge off her energy levels but there were still periods of restlessness. Right there, on the table ahead of her, were the novels. They held little interest for her at first - the truth to tell, none at all initially, but she reached out and took hold of one regardless, as you do when bored. Meryl had never been much of a reader. No-one had placed any emphasis on the written word in her household. Even so, Meryl read the back-cover of the first which appealed some, but not quite enough. That could well have been the end of the matter should the second novel not held a more alluring jacket. On reading the blurb this time around Meryl found herself a little intrigued, sufficiently so as to open the book and read the introduction. Again, it held her attention. What the hell! What did she have to lose? so she read the first paragraph, which led to her reading the first chapter, which led her to carry on to the novel's conclusion. Francis had been right all along. The novel was a revelation to Meryl, and the importance of this revelation cannot be overstated. Meryl was utterly amazed people wrote in such a manner about all that concerned her and far more besides. The revealing of the book's contents made her heart race and her breathing to become shallow with the excitement the wonderfully descriptive words evoked in her, whereby she literally held her breath at times in anticipation. The affect of this startling discovery was instantaneous. Meryl felt more alive than she had for years as a result. Something profound had taken place within Meryl and her head spun a little as a result. Positive change was happening within Meryl's brain at long last. Pathways were opening that had long been lost from sight. The fog began to clear and some brain clarity returned, which was exactly what the doctor would have wanted or ordered in the first place.

Para 19 ...

What more is there to say regarding Meryl and her dreams? Well, from here, it became clearly apparent, she was on the right road to a cure for all that troubled her. Knowledge was the key to unlock her full potential and to remove her from the harmful effects of mediocrity. She took to the pursuit of such knowledge like a duck to water, soaking up all she could get her hands on. The result of this? With the backing of her mother and father she acquired the qualifications she sorely lacked. It was the start of a life-long pursuit of betterment from there on in. She rose up the ranks to become a professional - a white collar worker. By doing so she mixed with the right people and in the right conditions so as to thrive. Her dreams? After a while she knew what they meant herself and vowed never to allow herself to be so remote and disturbed again. The village so full of life that had remained so far out of reach was finally reined in. It was a village she felt a part of, not merely an onlooker. The lonely vigil she so often kept in her own creation of hell receded to the back of her mind where it could no longer be of use or to bother her any longer. Such a dream became a mere wisp of memory - more like a vague recollection eventually. Somewhere she never wanted to visit again be the shops alive and kicking or no. Life with all its quirks and manifestations had now superseded such an imagined stark and bleak landscape and it was so much more than she hoped it would be. Her curiosity for life, once activated again, knew no bounds.

Para 20 ...

The person or thing she was searching for amongst the rubble, empty houses and shops? It was herself all along. Meryl finally realised this when she viewed her prison environment from outside the boundary walls. The realisation came to her in a dream she experienced once finally settled on the right road of her own personal discovery and improvement. With the village so full of life behind her she turned towards the enticing lights and never looked back or dreamed of such a place ever again. Her dreams were as others eventually - healthy and normal, at long last.

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