A bizarre dream one night…
I was leaking. I was leaking woman’s blood, and it was a disaster, particularly because I was on a pirate ship, and I was sure they could smell blood. This was simply no time for menstruation. Seated at at the head of the table as I was, their guest of Honour, in my resplendent gown, perched very queenly under the rancid glares of Blackbeard and Calico Jack, I bled. Oh, how impertinent of my uterus!
“Full moon tonight, Blackbeard.” growled one marauder, Hogwash, through a mouthful of dolphin casserole.
“Ar,” returned Blackbeard.
And it was that thing, that thing that happens in a dream, when you’re trying to do something, trying to get somewhere, but are constantly being distracted, diverted, until you no longer know what it is you were supposed to be doing even though you still burn with the insatiable conviction that you must.
I wore many skirts, but was positive I would haemorrhage my way through all of them soon. “Excuse me,” I said to the pirates to my left, and my ladies-in-waiting to my right, all slippery and uncomely with their newly sprouted aquatic features, particularly Maud, who resembled a hammerhead, much to my profound glee.
I wiped my mouth on my serviette and smoothed my skirts before standing up. “Gratuitous” murmured Hogwash, though I don’t really know why.
On my way to change my rag (I’m fairly certain they don’t have tampons on pirate ships,) I stop to look out of the window, enjoy the scenery as it were, only to discover that though we are on a pirate ship, we are not at sea at all. In fact, we are in the middle of the Sahara desert, about as far from the water as it is possible to be. “How strange,” I mutter, forgetting all about my woman’s blood, and clambering through the porthole. I land with a thwump on the sand. The ship disappears.
And there is the priest from my local parish, waiting for me in the dunes. Father Thomas. He wears an atrocious grin, so I am sure he knows I am bleeding. There seems no other pertinent course of action than to walk towards him.
“Captain Hogwash…my ladies-in-waiting…” I begin, but the priest raises his hand. His wormy purr delineates the gesture: “Quiet. Quiet. Hush, bitch.”
“I am hushed.” I say, to reassure him. “What is it?”
“The body of Christ,” Father Thomas says, holding out a packet of Quavers. I’m starving, so I take it. I don’t scoff them or anything, but sit them demurely on my tongue like a good Catholic girl. “Who died on the cross, for your sins,” he continues, “Yes, yours. The almighty, the son of God, suffered so that he may atone for the sins of humanity.”
I do the sign of the cross. “In the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit. Question.” I say, once the first piece of Christ has disintegrated on my tongue (Prawn Cocktail flavour. My favourite). The priest smiles warmly, knowingly, his answers at the ready. “You wouldn’t have a tampon on you, would you?” I ask.
His smile drops. Suddenly, we’re in the middle of a sandstorm.
I need to get back to the ship! I start to cry, partly because there’s sand in my eyes, partly because I know the ship has evaporated along with the priest and my packet of Quavers.
Suddenly, I see a great hammerhead in an emerald dress standing on the shore, waiting for me. Next to her stands a seahorse, in cobalt taffeta. I feel the pinch of costume envy as I look down at my own drab attire, which just a few moments ago had been a fine gown of ruby red. I lost everything in that nefarious sandstorm.
“The pirate ship is over there,” says Maud, pointing at the horizon. “We’re going to swim. Climb onto my back.”
“You have the head of a shark, Maud. Not the body.” I point out.
“You’re awfully pedantic for a girl wearing last season’s cerulean.” she says. I hang my head in shame, and climb on.
We swim towards the ship, drawing nearer far quicker than expected. I notice the girl with the head of a seahorse hasn’t said much this whole journey. I gaze inquisitively into her eyes, which she shyly averts.
“…Helga?” I venture.
The seahorse turns, regards me sadly. “Used to be,” she mutters.
It’s all so sad.
We reach the ship. After much strenuous effort, we clamber onto deck. Everything is just as I remember it, which is to say completely fucking unfamiliar.
“Now what?” I ask the others.
“You must jump back in the sea,” says Maud.
I turn around, incredulous. “What? We just came all of this way!”
“This is a dream…you must know by now there is no coherent narrative progression here.” She is patting her head in attempt to smooth over her hair, which is hilarious, because she doesn’t have any.
“But…I really do have to…really have to find something…and it’s on this ship. I know it!” I screech.
“What is?” Maud asks.
“I… I can’t remember.”
“If you can’t remember what it is, then how do you know it isn’t in there?” she gestures toward the sea. I look.
“I feel violated,” I say. Indeed, my stomach is turning, as I gaze into the fathomless deep, now swarming with sharks. Sharks that are not Maud, granted, which is of some comfort, since at least I know none of them will stab me in the back as she has done.
“You look it,” says Maud.
“Coming from a woman who resembles a hammerhead from the neck up?” I say, calling forth all of the mighty powers of sass in a last-ditch effort to regain my dignity.
Maud folds her arms across her chest and waits for me to jump. My eyes cloud with tears.
Betrayal. Utter betrayal.
“You’re such a bitch sometimes, Maud.” I say, and then jump. My tears mix with the salt of all the sea and I wake up in my bed, incredibly, not bleeding.