THE DREAM by Hermoine Ford
I exist on the fifth floor of a tenement block in deepest London; living would be an exaggeration. The lift, when it works reeks of urine at best and is often full of unmentionable deposits. Better then, to use the stairs? Not really, because discarded needles after drug use are everywhere as are used alcohol containers and vomit and huddled together as you turn corners are the needle-users who make the long walk up the steep stairs seem interminable and frightening, even in daylight.
Ever since I can remember, I have been a carer for my parents, but my father died two years ago leaving my mother still struggling with MS. For this reason I cannot go out to work and my life is an eternal round of seeing to her every need and trying to make her life more bearable. Every day is one of worry and stress.
Our home consists of tiny rooms and small windows and the patch of sunlight and moonlight that manages to pervade them is our only connection with visible nature. From my windows I cannot see any green grass or flowers. When I hear of people being put into prison for crimes, large or small, I read of their life and realise that they have far more amenities than we do.
I escape the grind by reading books and listening to the radio when I can, where I learn of a world outside mine. The library is my best friend and I expand my knowledge each day, but I wonder if one day I will have read all the books there. When I look up at the stars at night that are barely visible through my window, I am transported into a world of wonder where I leave all earthly stress and striving behind.
It was Wednesday and a particularly difficult day. Mother fell over three times, could not eat properly, became very stroppy. By the time I put her to bed I was beyond exhaustion. I lay on my bed, fully clothed, and fell fast asleep. Then I found myself walking along a tree-lined road until I came to huge, majestic black and gold gates. I tried to open them, but they were locked. Then I saw a smaller gate to the left, tried it and was able to walk through.
The sight that met my eyes was truly awesome. Right in front of me was a fountain in a circular stone bed. The water fell gently, like a caress and it was not easy to walk away from it. I saw a magnificent red-brick wall, about fifteen feet high, beautifully weathered with age, enclosing the whole garden, giving it a feeling of safety and peace. Beautiful plants grew up the mellow wall beautifying it further. The world seemed far away.
I meandered around the garden, and in one corner was a tennis court and I wondered what it must be like to play in this seclusion. Wondered what it must be like to play at all! I then saw huge trees forming a canopy of protectiveness on the edges of a lawn. Light filtered through, creating dancing shadows on the lawn, where pretty chairs were dotted around the edges. I could hear birds singing happily all around and as I continued walking I heard the neighing of horses and wondered where they were until I saw their stable-block. I think they sensed my presence. Roses growing in borders were so huge and beautiful that I was spellbound and the perfume was all-pervading. I kept walking through the sensational garden, past pretty garden swings, a vegetable garden and all sorts of nooks and crannies.
As I came nearer to the house, I heard voices and went into the room in front of me where the door stood open. To my left the voices were louder and I could hear murmurs and the clapping of hands. I went in and felt my heart miss a beat. The room was dramatically huge with a very high ceiling and was of different angles which made it spectacular. There was a minstrels gallery at one end and, at the opposite end, a large half-circular mirror showed this reflection, making the space seem even larger. The whole room was decorated in pale blue and there were lots of chairs of all styles and a white leather suite. It was elegance personified. A group of people was sitting and listening to someone speaking, all completely relaxed and finding whatever was being said very interesting. Wonderful drapes were at the large windows, which looked out on to the garden and the room just took my breath away.
I realized that no one could see me, so I wandered around and tried to take in the ambience of this house and garden, which was to me as I would have imagined the garden of Eden. A dog sniffed the air around me, but could not work out the strangeness of someone it could not see. A little cat arched her back in terror, but I just pressed on, going back into the wonderful room that I could never have imagined. I never wanted to go from this place, but even as I was thinking that I heard a cry. It was my mother and I woke up with a cruel start, back to reality, to see to her as duty called. I had to gather myself together before I moved on.
There was no way any place on earth was like the vision I had seen... so much room, with everything put together as with a divine hand. I could walk, I could wander, I could smell the roses, I could relax. My dream was real to me and I would relegate it to memory and be able to go back to it whenever I felt despair at my situation. It was beauty and peace personified and I thanked heaven for showing me this glimpse of Paradise.