A dream of death

An exercise I wrote a term or two ago for a creative writing class, I forget on what theme.



He’d never been close to death until then.

Yes, he’d seen dead bodies – his grandma, his father, a body in a road. True, this was death, but death as it had happened to others, deaths already tainted by premonitions of their passing or tinged with the innocent curiosity that characterises the young. This was not imminent death as it might apply to him: a moment of reckoning, a brief interval pointlessly proffered to put his house in order.

For those who’ve lived through it, even if memories have faded, the Cold War was a time of surviving on a precipice. Sometimes its edge visibly crumbled at one’s feet, as it did during the Cuba crisis. Sometimes there was just a feeling of vertiginous malaise watching grainy news footage of CND marchers, whether or not they were really cranks or communist stooges.

But one day death really came knocking at his…

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2 thoughts on “A dream of death

  1. Sad, melancholic story Chris and one, of course, laden with doom. Seems his life had been overshadowed on and off with ideas of destruction – as all our lives are I suppose – and finally it’s coming to fetch him.

    Does your narrator have a precognition about his own end as well as the world’s? That’s how I interpreted it. The images you convey are very strong and I enjoyed the language too – that last para, where you describe the crises that unfold, the culminating sense that man is unsaveable from himself really hit home. I think it’s how we all often feel about our race.
    Great writing

    1. Thanks, Lynn, I’m pleased — if that’s not too jolly a thought — you appreciated the melancholia in this piece. I’m not a very creative writer or thinker, and most of my fiction is based on only a marginally changed version of my own experiences. This is then, I suppose, a third person account of how nightmares about nuclear war affected me in the 60s and which only recently re-emerged in the last couple of years just as the world seems to be going to hell in a handcart. I think you recognised how I tried to make that anxiety more universal than personal towards the end.

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