Mary Thompson

The Swan, The Sheep, and the Bejewelled Mirror

Late last night Barney pinged me, a man I barely knew but liked, a bearded farmer I’d snogged once at a wedding. He said he was self isolating with his friend in rural Wales, a friend with benefits, he said with a winking emoji. We had a brief chat, then I told him I needed to sleep so I could lucid dream and escape this new reality. I told him about the symbols that appeared in my Zoom Nidra class – the swan, the sheep and the bejewelled mirror, and how I’d grown so tall I could do virtually anything. I told him I was so tall that my head clashed with the sky, and I needed to duck when I stood up.

‘That will get annoying eventually,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘but for now it’s okay.’

I wanted to celebrate, ideally with him. Only we weren’t together, he already had a ‘friend’ and I needed to sleep.

‘Dreams are the only reality now,’ he pinged.

What does that make your relationship then, I thought.

I couldn’t sleep so I popped a Zopiclone, lay on my right ear and waited for the dreams. But they didn’t come. Sleep didn’t come either. I did the tapping and breathing techniques but nothing happened. If dreams were my only reality, what then was this?

But I did sleep eventually and I saw the swan and the sheep standing side by side, gazing into the bejewelled mirror, and I realised I felt more comfortable around them than with ‘normal’ beings, banging on about their bread-making skills and watch parties on Facebook. Then in the mirror I saw Barney. He was all alone and ambling towards me.

‘Where is she now?’ I mouthed.

‘Who?’ he said.

‘Your friend with benefits.’

‘Dreams are the only reality now,’ he said, and he reached through the mirror and stroked my sheep.  

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Mary Thompson works as an English tutor in London. She is a recent winner of two BIFFY 50 awards. (Best British & Irish Flash Fiction 2018-2019) and has just been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her story, ‘Ladybird’ was selected for inclusion in Best Microfiction 2020 and her first flash collection was Highly Commended in Ellipsis Zine’s 2020 competition. Mary tweets at @MaryRuth69.