Monday, 21 July 2008

Chloe dreaming

It’s quite early morning, but the birds have been shouting about it for hours. Enough time has passed to make the night revolve away, which has allowed a knife made entirely of golden light to creep slowly across the carpet, tickling along over the assorted teddy bears, knitted toys and books that are littering the floor. Before the knife has a chance to get to the small girl tucked up in her bed, head back, mouth open, snoring like a tiny steam train; the door opens and her mother walks in. She crosses the muddle of toys and opens the curtains; the knife becomes a river and floods the room with warm, morning light and Chloe begins to wake up.
“Chloe sweetheart, time to get up.” Says her mother, Jules, gently shaking her.
“Wassat?” Exclaims Chloe drowsily, sleep blurring her voice and pinning her down into the soft warmth. She opens her eyes and screws her mouth into an expression of distaste. “I’m havin’ a lovely dream, wotchoo wakin’ me for?”
Jules strokes hair from her daughter’s face, she has a curl that insists on invading the tiny cheek, and gets tangled in her long eyelashes. She looks so much like her father. “Mam, what your eyes all red for?” She demands, sitting up now.
“Nothing, sweetheart. Mam’s just tired that’s all.” Jules’ eyes fill slightly and she grabs hold of little Chloe and pulls her into a fierce hug. “Mammy loves you.” Then, as if pulling herself together, she asks, “So, were did you go last night?”
“Aw Mam! I went to loads of places last night, which ones do you want me to tell you about?”
“All of them, of course. It’s only Saturday, we only have to go to the shops later to get tea in, we’ve got all morning. Start at the start for me.”
“Cool!” Exclaims Chloe happily, and snuggles deeper down into the nest that her quilt has become. Her story starts right after Mammy had put her to bed at eight, Chloe’s dreams last all night and long into the morning. Sometimes they stay even after she wakes up. Sometimes they even follow her into school. She checks her school bag every morning before getting into the car, and before the Summer when Daddy was still here, she used to get him to check too. Goblins hiding in her bag wouldn’t be scared off if she looked at them, but Daddy was so big he was able to scare them away. That’s what she told him. Last night’s adventure was a grand old time, it started on a ship, a golden ship made from frozen sunbeams which were carved by giants with red beards who lived by the sea. Chloe had been scared of them at first, but she soon discovered that they were very friendly indeed.
One of them was called Brian Jenkins, and it was he who told her where to find a magical key that would unlock any lock in the world. This was great news to the tiny girl (who in her dreams wore a red cape like Superman, a crown like the Queen and ruby slippers that were sometimes blue because Chloe liked blue sometimes much more than red) as a few dreams ago she had found a chest like a pirate’s chest but she couldn’t open it. A witch called Griselda had put a spell on the lock so that nobody could lock it. Chloe was desperate to open this chest because,
“It must av ‘ad a brilliant thing in it, because nobody would put a spell on a chest with something boring in it. Isn’t that right Mam?”
“Makes perfect sense to me, love. What happened then?”
Armed with the magical key, which had a large sapphire set into it, Chloe went back to where she had hidden the chest and quickly turned the sparkling key in the lock. Inside were a pair of wings that enabled the wearer to really fly, and a tiny bottle of magic potion. Two drops on the top of your head made your hair grow four feet long, so you could have a haircut and if you didn’t like it you could grow it back in a second.
Chloe was delighted with these finds, and popped hem both into her spoils bag, a purple bag that she could carry over her shoulder, with two buttons and a zip that made it look like a face. Chloe had been so happy when she found the bag in her dreamland, that she had begged her mother to make the bag for hr in real life. It now hung on the back of her bedroom door, and contained a Brothers Grimm book, a photograph of a cloud (which was the first photograph Chloe had ever taken and even though she had been aiming for Daddy’s face the cloud that had appeared when the film came back was still pretty amazing), a drawing book and a packet of Crayola with no red.
Chloe’s dream then became quite scary, she had slipped the wings over her shoulders and was flapping about near a tall tree that had thousands of glittering butterflies dancing over it, when suddenly the sky turned dark and there was a screeching noise. She looked up and saw three demons flying towards her, two were holding knitting needles and one had a pair of scissors.
“And then I really did get scared ‘cos the scissors were really big. I called for you and Daddy but only you came see Mam. I don’t think Daddy can fly from where he is.” Jules pulls her daughter in for another big hug. Some days it gets so bad that she locks the doors and unplugs the phone, and the only person she can stand to see is Chloe. Chloe likes those days, she knows. They play hide and seek or make cakes; painted a mural once on the landing wall, all rainbows and exotic birds.
“You’re so brave, sweetheart. Help Mam be brave too, will you?” Asks Jules, pulling her close again.

This morning is made of rain and clouds; the dark grey sky has seeped into the house through the windows and dulled all the colours. Jules makes herself a quick cup of tea before going up to wake Chloe and find out where she has been. She smiles at the thought, nearly every morning for the last six years, one of them has gone up to ‘find out where Chloe has been’, it is as much a routine as washing the dishes or feeding the cats. Jules will have to do it alone from now on though. She breathes deeply, drains the last of her tea, and bounds up the stairs to wake her daughter.
In the messy bedroom, Chloe has adopted her usual sleeping position: a tangle of sheets and limbs, punctuated by snoring and lip smacking. Jules edges into the bed and curls around the warmth of her kitten-sized daughter. Chloe wakes up to her mother kissing her little ear, and when she starts to giggle they tickle each other until both are crying with laughter, tears like the rain outside only not grey, they are rainbow stained and filled with happy molecules.
Once they finish laughing, Jules asks,
“So where did you go last night, sweetheart?”
“Aw Mam! It was even better last night than ever before.”
“Go on then, start from the start.”
Brian Jenkins and his best friend Adrian played snap with Chloe for a while, but Adrian was too good and he won every game except one, and that was disqualified because Brian’s pet turtle ate one of the cards. Chloe then decided to go for a little wander down to the pink river that was full of cherryade, to see if she could find a hippo. Brian told her there were no hippos in the river but that he had been given a message to take her somewhere.
Up in the clouds was a door, Brian said, and Chloe had to go there. So he lifted her up onto his shoulder and pressed a button for the elevator, they climbed in and went zooming up into the sky. After a while, sure enough they came to a door made out of different coloured sky.
“And Mam you wouldn’t believe who was behind it!” Exclaims Chloe.
“Who? Tell me.” Asks her mother.
“It was Daddy, only he was well.” Jules breaks down; she’s been expecting this for a while. She has no idea how to explain.
“Aw Mam! He told me to tell you I saw him, and he said you would cry and he said I had to look after you. He said he liked my wings too.”
“He always said you had wings, babe.”

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