That Morning… A Dream Derivative

Many of you, I’m sure, have had similar experiences: waking up from a dream that was so vivid and intriguing that after you woke up, the dream (or what remained of it) stays with you as part of your memories.

So this day, many years ago, I had a strange dream about waking up in an exotic hut by a lake/sea. And in the dream, when I woke up, I wasn’t myself anymore. For some reason, I woke up in a completely different body and a completely different place and was utterly confused. (It’s worth noting that in the dream, I hadn’t lost my identity as the real me here, I lost my identity as the random fictional character I’ve made up in the dream. That is, a dreamed character lost his identity for some other dreamed-up character.)

And that’s it. That was the extent of the dream. I mean, that’s what dreams are, right? Hardly logical, always random, and always in bits and pieces.

But this dream left a strong enough impression on me that I told myself, one day I’m going to turn it into an actual story. In the years after that, every once in a while the dream would float up in my mind, and I’d be telling myself, “Gotta start on that one of these days.” Typical procrastination, of course.

Until two years ago, when I decided that I really ought to start writing short stories, even if I couldn’t afford the time to write longer ones. And what else to write for the first story but this dream that had been lingering in my mind for years?

And so I started writing the story on my OneNote (as I’m doing now) at a café (can’t remember which—Starbucks maybe?) as I always do, and whipped the story out in an hour or so. I’ve finally turned the dream into an actual story, with a few changes: first, the character became a female. For some reason, when I wrote the first lines, I found myself unable to write on from the point of view of the male character. But once I switched to the perspective of a female, the story poured out of me.

Second, the story had a beginning, middle, and end. Which makes sense, of course. “A man woke up in a strange place as a different person” is not a story—at least not a complete one. No matter how bad or open the ending is, a story always needs an ending.

Finally, I added an additional character into the story. Guess that’s obvious too—hard to make up a story with just one character huh.

But you know what the most interesting thing is? While the dream had indeed assumed the concrete form of a short fiction, and it no longer surfaces in my mind every now and then as if to remind me to write it down, in actuality the dream and the story are now two different things. The dream, still vivid in my mind now, portrays a distinctly different scenario than the one in the story. Probably due to the need to tell a proper story, I had subconsciously added elements to the dream that, as a result, transformed it into a completely different story. For better or worse, the dream will probably stay lodged in my mind forever, private to myself, while its derivative the short fiction finds its way to actual readers.

Anyway. Enough talk—if you’ve read this far, you probably want to know what the final, written form of the dream is, so here it is. Though very different from its source, I still like it a lot, enough to publish it online. And so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. (Warning: my fictions aren’t exactly bedtime stories, so be prepared for some vulgarities and whatnot.)