The ring on his finger jolts her out of her reverie. She tries to focus on it, to catch the symbol engraved in the thick band of silver, but his hands dash about too quickly, and are shoved into his sleeves when he isn’t talking. But she has seen the ring before, she knows it. She has dreamed it.

It seems too cruel, this nudging of fate’s elbow in the face of hopelessness. Perhaps it is a trick of the mind; a desperate attempt of her subconscious to render this truth untrue. What is meant for you won’t pass you by, her mother’s words echo a grim cliché. She is not sure she ever believed them.

But she knows she dreamed this ring. He pauses with his hand to his face and she sees the symbols clearly at last. And she remembers. She had been on a train, in this dream. Coming home to her parents’ house from college, a familiar ritual of stopping and starting, of whizzing scenery. As the carriage pulled to rest in the station, she was simultaneously outside and inside the train. She felt herself stepping out onto the concrete of the platform, pushing past the warm bodies and feeling the crunch of passing anoraks in the station.

But she was also still standing inside the carriage, and the man she loved at the time was presenting her with this ring. He stood on the platform, facing her; they stood on either side of the door, facing each other. He held her gaze in his, blue eyes cold and frank. And his left hand held out a small black velvet box. But I’m not even your girlfriend, she said, confused. But in the dream it was alright. It was all going to work out, because he gave her this ring with this symbol on it, and this must mean that he loved her.

She knows she wrote the dream down somewhere, if only she could remember where. All of her diaries and notebooks stretch out before her mind’s eye, those in her apartment and those that have been left behind shoved into drawers and behind bookcases in her parents’ house. And suddenly she feels exhausted.

I have to go, she says to him. I’m sorry, I’m not feeling great. I’m going home. He looks surprised, disappointed, bewildered. She smiles grimly to herself at his oblivion as she walks away.



A light came on
burning through the
January dark.
Clouds hung low
and through the melting snow
came the bow of my ark.

But oh
you were snatched away
long before that
afternoon of glory.
He pushed the ring
onto her hand
and she turned her face to me
and said:

Take your breath and
cradle it in your lungs;
put to your lips what’s left
of my lover’s crumbs;
leave your skipped heartbeat
with me,
he’s not free
to take it;
and stand there
before him in the light;
forever clothed,
your soul so naked
in your eyes.

So I raise my white flag.
But you must learn
you can’t hide from life.