Dreaming By Design

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

The alarm clock makes a mess of the morning, drowning out the blackbirds and scaring away the crows. A fire engine charges off to douse angry flames. A police car wails its siren song; attentive thieves stop to listen, whilst I carry on dreaming by design. 

I hold the cosseting darkness close, bathe in its obsidian cool, feel it course through my veins as liquid night. There are no stars, no moon, no higher angels here, just an ever-stretching moment sandwiched between last and next. I squeeze my eyes tight as a shrink-wrapped shroud, but the reason for this preservation slips away. 

There are still brief moments of lucidity where golden dawns merge to cerulean days and the nights are nothing but places to lay one’s head. They are rare, flashes of a past once lived, and most days I turn my back to them. But not today. Today is special. It’s the day I wait for every week. 

I dress in my Sunday best even though it’s a Thursday. The weightless white lilies lay across my outstretched arms like a tightrope walker’s pole, offering a balance I should otherwise lack. In this fashion, foot before foot, I make my way there.

The deserted cemetery mires in a morose nod to the forgotten. How I wish it would laugh and sing, awaken. 

I follow the well-worn path through these winding monuments to other people’s memories in search of one of my own. It is the last stone of the last row of an extension abutting a hedge. Ready for a quick getaway, I tell myself. 

A quick glance and I lay my flowers and leave, passing the same woman who tends her mother’s grave every Thursday. We often smile, nod even, but today she offers some words.

“Back again,” she says. It is not a question. 

I nod, unwilling to risk more. 

“A family member?”




She pauses as if to say more might offend me, but her desperation for contact wins over. “A parent?”

She looks aghast as I shake my head. 

“A child?”

I repeat the gesture and make to move away, my cheeks reddening. 

“Then who?”

I am already weeping when I turn to say, “Me.”

My eyes rest most mornings, my heart too. I have never loved and never grieved. Some might claim me dead to the world, and the world dead to me. I lay flowers at a grave I have paid for in advance, near a woman who does not know my name. One day, I shall lay there as I have practiced here. One day, she shall do the same. 

I pretend to sleep until the day takes over, testing myself against an overly loud alarm and a window open to the world. This is my ritual, my darkening of the mind. I block out all that would disturb me and ponder the woman in the cemetery, she who the flowers are truly for. It is a meditation of sorts. I dream by design in the hope I’ll be ready when we meet on equal terms. For ghosts may pass and smile and chat, but only in death be together forever. 

The alarm rings. Are my eyes open or closed?

Thank you for reading


Richard M. Ankers


Vaporous Embraces

Photo by Dmitriy Ermakov on Unsplash
Photo by Dmitriy Ermakov on Unsplash

There is an inherent need in all humans, men and women, to yearn for that tactile embrace of a loved one. There is no comfort like the comfort of another, nowhere safer than when in a lover’s arms. Whilst in those arms, the nightmares seem less real. Life shall be easier than before. This is what they tell us. A gift from our elders, if you will. We will strive for it most of our lives. Yet, it is false. There is another way. I know, though, I wish I didn’t.

When we die, we leave. Simple as. No arguments. No complaints. We are no more, lost to time and eternity’s tides. Some people say our souls, that inner self we ignore too often during life, pass to a better place, one the living shall never know. But what is that better place?

Some say fields of gold. Others claim marble towers and walls too high for birds to crest. Some say a lapping shore where one may dip their proverbial toes and know peace. A rock on an endless mountain. A cloud. The theories expand exponentially as each new generation adds to their layers.

There are even places where these souls don’t want to go. Where they are sent, not requested. Places which mire in darkness, shadows hunting in packs and alone. No one wishes their spirit, their very essence, to inhabit such hells. No one!

There is also the in-between, where those who’ve abused the eternal embrace, though, not too much, reside. They pay their penances in waiting. Simply, waiting. Grey fog whirls and swirls here. The mists form in endless walls of dew. They are quiet places, timeless. But who is to mark the passage of time if love isn’t present or remembered?

This brings me back to better places, or simply, places.

I lost her. I never thought to find her again. Yet, she has found me. Through passion and determination, my once all has returned. She has entered me. I am her limbo. I am her hell. How I hope I’m her heaven, too. Vaporous, she’s been for the longest of times. Now, I breathe her in every breath.

Vaporous embraces are the greatest of all. There is no need for flesh on flesh, for eye to eye, or more. We are one until I pass, too. And then there’ll be no I at all.

The End.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.
Also Available:
The Eternals Series: The Eternals / Hunter Hunted / Into Eternity

The Me I Once Was

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash
Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

Transparent times made for invisible people, and I was more invisible than most. Where others had lips, cheeks, chins and expressions, I had an outline that wavered as a golden mist. Where others had eyes, I had hollows, and it was in these where all my sorrows pooled.
To weep without salinity, tracks, or wetness, is to not weep at all, yet I did. The flow was constant and the craving for more irreversible. Perhaps this was what prompted my transition from nothing, to something, to more.
A ghost is the very personification of gone, so to make gone return, took effort. I strained every atom, recalled every memory, coalesced from that dream termed death. But return, I did.
My hands and feet came first, like an erased pencil sketch redrawn from somebody else’s perspective: I was not the me I once was. A fully formed torso and face came next; I touched them and wept some more. It was this that gave my true self away, the agony of my situation. There was still no water and no tear. When I touched at my eyes, they too were missing, my newly formed fingers passing straight into my hollow skull.
It was several days and close to midnight before I took the decision to stop trying. I hovered at the end of my once wife’s bed. She noticed.
The light flicked on before I could move, and there I was facing the mirror, or rather, most of me was. I fled.
I still haunted our old house long after Karen passed. My wife never came back. I tormented those others, then those after them, and then many more. I waited for the one who might have my eyes, but, of course, I never saw them.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.