Do you have recurring dreams, well nightmares, really? I have an awful one that haunts me constantly. The trouble is that it is true!
In my dream I am a much younger person, barely twelve. I had just started a new school and was what they might call a mediocre student. To teachers back then that meant “He could do better!” This was certainly written on my reports.
Perhaps I can tell you what continually comes back to me at night. There was a deputy sports master, a tall, strict, sarcastic man who clearly had army experience. He chose the first session he took with our class to do some competitive boxing. Sparring might have been appropriate but in his wisdom he elected pairs of boys to don the gloves and to really box. He encouraged each twosome to land punches and be aggressive.
I hated boxing. Sport in my juvenile mind was kicking a ball in soccer, hitting a ball in cricket or running around the oval getting puffed out or jumping up or along wherever the inclination took you. The sports master paired off the boys in some haphazard way and I found myself putting on gloves with my best friend Bertie.
Bertie and I did everything together at school. At weekends I often rode my bicycle out to his Dad’s farm to stay the day where we did all the usual adventurous things boys do at that age. We explored the woods and streams, got wet, tried to avoid playing with his younger brother, kicked a football on a miniature soccer field his Dad had mowed for him in a paddock with real goalposts and ate with his family at lunchtime which was real treat as his Mum seemed to cook everything, better and richer than what I had at home. It was heaven.
So there we were with gloves on facing each other. We were both nervous and apprehensive but were told to go ahead and box. So with careful indifference to this supposed sport we sparred a bit but avoided hitting each other.
This was a big mistake as the sports master then urged us on to land our blows and so we did. I clearly had a longer reach than little Bertie and managed to land few on his body and arms then one punch slipped through and landed on his face. Tears immediately sprung to his eyes and I was appalled. I had hit my best friend. The bout was soon over and I apologized profusely to him.
After that our friendship should have returned to normal, but it didn’t. From that day on we drifted apart. I no longer went to his farm, and we both found other friends. I was however left with sometime far more worrying. It was that recurring dream of that day. That blow has been magnified a hundred times over the years. In some dreams I knock him out, in others there is blood and gore and yet others I am arrested for assault.
May you be free of a flashback as awful as that of mine.