Monday, 16 June 2008

2 Dream Story "The Smell Of Lemons"

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “If this story is true, how can you be telling it?” Well, the truth is that, once he had calmed down and stopped screaming, Tom was pretty helpful and he set me up at the computer with one of those voice recognition things. It’s pretty shitty and I have to keep saying delete, so bear with me if the spelling goes wrong.

The thing is that, back when I was a kid, I used to have something of an extreme reaction to hair products. Now, when most people say extreme reaction they mean throat closing up, hives and skin rash: some people have been known to die. Me – I used to turn into a dog.

Yeah – you read that right: a dog. A big, brown Golden Retriever. The first time it happened I didn’t know what the hell to think. I woke up with paws, smells in Technicolor and a strong desire to cock my leg at any nearby post. My mom freaked. We had a strict no pets in the house rule back then, so she kicked me out. I spent four hours whimpering under a bush whilst she tore around the neighbourhood screaming my name.

I can still remember how strangely calm I felt about it all– like somehow I had always known there was a dog inside me wanting to get out (and please, no jokes about already being a bitch – I’ve heard them all before). I guess the truth is you get used to what you have and, somehow, walking around on all fours and chasing cats just seemed like the right thing to be doing with my day. That nearly caused me a problem the first time, on account of the fact I was half-way up a tree when I felt my limbs stretching and suddenly I was butt-naked and nearly stuck. Thank God my mom’s always kept a spare key under the plant-pot or I would still have been out there when she got back – and that would have left me in even more trouble than I already was: and that was bad enough.

The second time it happened I was away on girl scout camp – and that was when I started to notice the symptoms: first a scratchy feeling in my hair after I used the products, then a vague smell of lemons (don’t ask me why) and suddenly – bam – dog! All the other girls screeched like crazy as this big, wet dog came bounding out of the shower rooms. This time, however, I knew better than to let the doggie side take over too much – so I bounded back to the tent and pulled out some clothes. Trust me – you do not want to wear clothes covered in dog saliva, especially when it’s your own, but it’s better than finding yourself naked in a field with 40 girl guides and a couple of cub scouts out looking for you. When I finally changed back I told them I’d got lost following the dog and they seemed to believe me – though I got into trouble with the guide leader and missed out on supper that night. From then on until I finally figured out what was causing it I started carrying a small bag with a change of clothes round my neck. A lot of people thought it was cute the way that dog would pull at the bag. Some even tried to take it off me.

Once I found out exactly what product was causing the change I thought it best to avoid them. Much as being a dog was fun I’d noticed that the changes were lasting longer – and it was taking longer to turn back. When it first started I’d change from dog to girl in the blink of an eye – then later in a couple of minutes. One time I was left with the stub of a tail for about a week after everything else had come back and that was when I knew it was time to quit.

And so I did: until that drunken night in college. Somehow it all came out – how I used to turn into a dog, what it felt like. And of course no one believed me, I guess they thought I was drunk – and I was, otherwise I never would have rinsed a load of that product into my hair just to prove them wrong.

And of course, nothing happened. Don’t ask me why – I thought maybe at the time that being a dog was something you could grow out of, like having a security blanket or some such thing, or that I was immune now. I guess I looked a fool that night, but it wasn’t the first time and they forgot in time (though some people still call me Fido to this day)

And then I met Tom. Sure it was 10 years later and I was in a steady job by then, but I guess it was the next really important thing that happened in my life. Tom was gentle and kind and funny in a way that no man had been to me before and I guess I fell in love with him – but for some reason I never did tell him about the dog. It was so long ago and, besides, I thought I was cured.

The thing about Tom is that he likes to go to some pretty far out places – so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when he took me to a hairdresser in china town. It was a weird place – you had to sit in a row with five other people and the barber would work entirely from behind the last person, reaching further and further over until each head was done. It was all supposed to be about getting in touch with your inner self – though frankly I prefer it when I get in touch with my inner self alone, and not when someone else is attempting to touch it for me. Tom went off to have a coffee next door whilst I had my hair done – so I was surprised when I came out and found the bike gone…but not as surprised as when I began to smell lemons.

When Tom came back from the coffee house he found his bike stolen and this weird dog standing in a pile of his girlfriend’s clothes. I don’t know what he thought – he hasn’t spoken much about that night since – maybe he thought I’d gone insane and decided to drive butt-naked around the city. I can be pretty impulsive some times, but that would be pushing it even for me. Of course, thinking I was cured had meant that I’d stopped carrying around my emergency bag, so my only way of getting home was in those keys in my jeans – which of course Tom had picked up before calling the Police. Out of force of habit I’ve always left a spare key behind a loose brick in the wall – but I just didn’t fancy the idea of doing a Lassie Come Home across country at night – so I stuck with Tom knowing he’d be too kind hearted to send me to a kennel and hoping that my doggie state would wear off overnight.

Of course – things didn’t work out that way. I got stuck as a dog for the best part of two weeks, by the end of which I was pretty sick of marrowbone jelly I can tell you. All I can say is that the hair product must have been a strong one because when it finally did wear off it didn’t do it all in one go. I wouldn’t have liked to be in Tom’s shoes when he came in and saw my human head on a dog’s body – but the sound he made as he crawled backwards across the carpet in a stream of his own mess was enough to get every dog within a hundred mile radius up and barking.

It took a hell of a lot of persuading to get him back in to the room and there’s still a bit of me that wonders if he didn’t consider calling Jerry Springer first, but come back he did and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

Things have improved since then. My body is mostly back, though I could be wrong but I think my breasts have got a little bigger, but I still have paws where I should have fingers. The other day my thumb popped back into existence, so I reckon I should be able to handle a knife and fork in another week or two. Tom went out and bought me some anti histamines and they seem to be speeding things up, but he still looks at me in that freaked out way and I don’t know if things will ever be the same between us. He’s been very kind and all, but I know he’ll be happier when I move back home in another week or two. Meanwhile I keep taking the pills and fighting the urges – I don’t know which is worse: wanting to chase sticks, bury bones or stick my tongue out and pant all day. One thing I do know for sure: when I finally get back home I wont be washing my hair in any products – not now and not ever again.


Don't Feed The Pixies said...

A note on my own blog - this story came out of two very seperate dreams over the weekend: the first that i'd turned into a dog somehow, but had got stuck half-way back, the second about the hairdresser. The two seemed to go together in some wierd way. Not sure why i made the central character a woman - it just seemed to fit.

Hope you enjoy...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

When writing fiction, the subconscious has a hold of the pen as well as your conscious self does. It is that that probably decided the gender of the protagonist.

Hmmmm....the Kafka approach, hmm? I would say this also reminds me of "Rhinoceros" by Eugene Ionesco, but in that story, everyone turns into the titular animal except for the protagonist.

This was a good story. At first, I didn't understand why she would agree to getting her hair done in the barbershop, but then I remembered that she thought she was immune.

Might you have any idea yet as to why this is happening to her?

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I think the character being female could have come from "Storytelling Giant" - a compilation of Talking Heads videos interspersed with "talking head" interviews - one of which was a girl telling a story about being a dog. The dream could be related to the fact that i let my cats out for the first time in 2 weeks and they were immediately chased by a dog...whoops! (they're ok, by the way)

I really don't know why its happening to her

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see. Thank God the cats are ok.

Honour said...

brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, DFTP. Truly. I just came back tonight from a storytelling competition and this, my friend, would have been a winner. I was so caught up in the story, I suspended my disbelief, and that is a true mark of a good storyteller. I LOVED the part about the odd hairdresser reaching over five people to do their hair. It was so strange, it almost made me think it had to be based on a true experience. I really enjoyed this. I'm glad you have strange dreams!!

Jenny said...

Wow what a strange dream. And I think that my dreams are strange. xD (My dreams are never this interesting though.)

I immediately start thinking at autistic people. I mean, they have their own world and their own kind of rules and ideas. For example, they need to avoid certain things cause it will feel like their world falls apart if they don't. It could be totally necessary for them to avoid hairspray for example, cause otherwise they will not feel safe... and who knows what happens then. Perhaps the autistic person turns into a dog, well at least in his or hers own imaginary world. :)

William Wren said...

great writing here very thoughtful