Beginning with issue 202, Alison Croggon is writing a regular column for Overland, one dedicated to books – our ideas of them and our relationships to them. Here’s the first. Enjoy.
‘Some people will tell you that none of these things happened. They’ll say they were just a dream that the three of us shared. But they did happen.’
– Heaven Eyes, David Almond
I have two vivid childhood memories of things that can’t be true. They both date from before I was four years old.
The first is of seeing a witch fly out of my ear. I was lying in bed listening to the thump of blood in my head. I remember that I was irritated by the noise, which was keeping me awake, and that I became convinced that it was the sound of footsteps in my ear canal. Then a tiny witch flew out of my ear on a broomstick and circled above my head.
The second memory is of being up late enough to see the stars. What I saw was miraculous – huge orbs of blue and red and yellow and green, blazing in a black expanse. The next time I saw the night sky, maybe a couple of years later, I nearly cried with disappointment: the pale blue points of light I saw then were wan travesties of the glories I remembered.
Obviously, neither of these things can have actually occurred: they belong in the world of dreams, and might indeed be memories of dreams. Nevertheless, they were real to me. They have the concrete quality of other memories – playing with the family dog, the taste of sour milk I drank once by accident, the resistance and release of a rusty nail piercing my foot as I trod on it – that family lore confirms actually did happen.