I dreamt the other night that I was standing in a flooded courtyard. The ledge I stood on was a narrow terrace of concrete slabs, white with frost, and the water below me was covered in a thin sheet of ice. Snow formed in drifts on the surface. I wasn’t cold where I stood but I was isolated, with no way to leave the terrace except by jumping down to the water. It was impossible that the skin of ice would support me and, I knew this as certainty, entering the deep water beneath, would be fatal.
Across the courtyard there was the arched entrance to the square, built from large blocks of carved stone. There were other terraces that I could see from where I stood, but none that I could reach. The buildings looking down on the water were all empty, abandoned. The phone in my pocket was dead.
And that was the dream. All through the night I paced the short distance from one end of the terrace to the other, thinking. I didn’t speak, I did nothing except try and imagine a way to escape. The courtyard was illuminated with the grey light of low clouds and snow, the light stayed that way, without change, for all my time there. Hours passed but time itself had stopped. As I paced back and forward my isolation become more and more pronounced, and the horror of my situation grew in my mind until it dominated my thoughts.
I woke slightly, swimming up through the layers of sleep until I knew that it was a dream. Then I dived again and, instead of drifting to another dream, I found myself back in the courtyard, back on the same small terrace. I saw the same grey light, and the same icy water barring my way.
This time though I realised that there was a window behind me, on the terrace. The blinds were drawn and the window was locked, but I could smash the glass.
I felt cheated.