Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from The Blue Door
THERE WAS, FIRST, THE DREAM.WHICH SHOULD have alerted me, except that I'm not normally into dreams. But this one I found strangely disquieting, and carried it with me, like a persistent tune in my head, throughout that long day. Until the shocking moment in the early dusk. The kind of moment that once turned the life of Kafka's Gregor Samsa upside down. But this was not fiction. It happened. And to me.
Not that the dream had any direct bearing on what happened in the evening. But in some subliminal way, and with hindsight, there did seem to be a connection which I have not been able to figure out. Nor, I must confess, have I tried. I believe that dreams belong to the night in which they're dreamt and should preferably not be allowed to spill into the day. This time it was different.
In the dream I am embarking on a long journey with my family, moving house. My wife Lydia is there, but also three children, three little girls, very blonde, with very blue eyes. This is perturbing. We do not have children, and after nine years of marriage it still hurts, although both of us have become skilled at pretending it doesn't matter; not anymore. Lydia gets into the front of the truck with the driver. The girls are already in the back, perched high up on the mountain of furniture like little monkeys. I join them and we drive off very slowly, the load swaying precariously. It is a sweltering day and the children are perspiring profusely, strands of their blonde hair clinging to their cheeks and foreheads.
They seem to have difficulty breathing. Before we have reached the first corner, I realize that we will never make it like this. We need water for the journey for the children to survive. I start hammering with my hands on the cabin of the truck. The driver stops and peers up at me, a surly expression on his thick face which is turning an ominous purple.
"I've got to get water for the kids," I explain. "I left three bottles on the kitchen sink."
"We don't have time," growls the driver.
"I won't be long," I insist. "And they won't survive without water in this heat."
He mutters a reply, mercifully inaudible, and I jump off.
"Just drive on slowly," I try to placate him. "I'll soon catch up with you."
The girls begin to cry, but I give them a reassuring wave as I trot off into the simmering and searing white day.
Only when I arrive at the kitchen door do I realize that I have no keys with me. Glancing round to give another wave to the children, I hurriedly begin to jog around the house to find a means of entry. Only after three exhausting rounds do I spot a half-open window. In the distance, the truck is beginning to disappear in a cloud of dust.
I manage to climb into the house and collect the bottles of water. They are ice cold against my chest. But now the window through which I have entered is barred, and I lose precious time rushing this way and that through the house. Everything seems locked and bolted. I become aware of rising panic inside me.
Then at last, somehow, in the inexplicable manner of dreams, I am outside again, still clutching the water bottles to my chest. By now the truck is nowhere to be seen. Only a small cloud of dust, the size of a man's hand, hangs in the distance.
I start running. In the heat my legs turn to lead. But I persevere. I have to, otherwise my family will be lost: they do not know where we are heading for, I am the only one who knows the address. On and on I run. From time to time I catch a glimpse of the diminishing truck. On, on, on. I have to. I just have to.
In the distance I can hear the thin voices of the children wailing, more and more faintly. Once I believe I can hear Lydia calling:
"David! David, hurry!"
Then that, too, dies away. In the ferocious glare of the day I redouble my efforts. But in the end I am forced to admit that it is useless. I shall never catch up with the truck. I shall never see Lydia and the children again.
That was where the dream ended.