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One of my most vivid dreams of recent years is a flying dream. This is what I can remember, though the feather at the end was added.
It began with an old wooden schoolhouse with cracked graying timber walls, my footsteps crunching on the pebbled compound as I approach. Three broad wooden steps lead up to a dimly lit classroom, which upon entering I find a young girl with long brown hair seated at the front near the blackboard. The other scratched and scarred orange desks and chairs are empty of their students. The girl is side on but her hair falls over her face obscuring her features. Leaning forward over the desk the girl is writing in a book and ignoring me completely.
"Come on." I say, furrowing my brow. "You're going to miss sport!" (Imagine that? As a child it was inconceivable to me that someone wouldn't like sport.)
Shaking my head, I turn, run and jump down from the edge of the schoolhouse to the ground, forgetting about my frustration with the girl and jogging down to where my class is grouped for the afternoon sport. Instead of the usual school oval I am expecting, the class is assembled on the side of a grassy slope where there are mulberry and maple trees and other clumps of lantana bush dotted throughout the field.
A friend of my mine calls me aside and tells me to watch what he can do. He takes a run up and leaps over one of the clumps of lantana landing on the other side and suddenly colored lights rise from the brush. Translucent, globular pinks, blues, yellows and greens tinkle and chime as they rise skyward.
I am amazed and immediately have to try.
Backing up a few steps I take a running jump over the lantana bush and see the colored lights and hear their tinkling but instead of landing on the other side, I continue to float above the ground, staying about two metres above the slope like a hovercraft as I begin to direct my flight with my eyes and my head. I can see my classmates pointing and calling. They seem worried and scared for my safety more than amazed at the spectacle.
As I turn back from the edge of the clearing the sky darkens and I see the group of children heading back to the school. Now I can feel my shoulders working, beating at the air as though winged as I glide through the transparent ocean of particles.
But they have disappeared and the school is closed and dark as I fly above. Looking down from my bird's eye view I find the school compound is next to an industrial estate. There is a familiarity in the layout of the large corrugated sheds, which I recognise as the Dry Mill where my father worked for thirty years. I had also worked there during my breaks from university. As I pass over the Dry Mill where the mineral sands are sorted and bagged I notice a figure sitting eating a midnight snack under one of the conveyor belts. Suddenly I am swept forward by a strong cool wind and just as I pass out over the long brown river I recognise it is my father sitting there eating on his night shift.
I circle around once, taking in the panorama of the city lights of the office buildings in the distance glistening on the river and the flickering streetlights layered over the sprawl of the suburbs below. Back around I swing in an arc towards the mouth of the river and the dark mass of the broad blue pacific beyond.
When I awake in the morning my shoulders and back muscles are stiff and sore. I wipe a downy feather from the corner of my mouth and hit the snooze button.
Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus should we do, for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.