I dream we go to a lake hoping to see dolphins and whales – or perhaps it is an inlet from the sea. As we enter the water, we see a dolphin and a whale. I am there with J-P and Samuel. I caution Samuel to be careful how he touches the dolphin. The dolphin and the whale are very playful and friendly. Then suddenly there are lots of dolphins swimming and frolicking around us. We are laughing and touching them as they pass.
Then somehow the dolphins become mermaids without tails; they are emerging from their kingdom under the sea – perhaps at last to reveal their existence to us, or perhaps because we have discovered them. At first they do not speak, but only walk silently from the water. Mostly there are women and children. We are speechless with awe and amazement as we watch them emerge.
They are dressed in clothes made of rich brocades and woven from the colours of the sea – deep greens and purples, like seaweed, and flashes of sunlight gold. I reach out to touch a pair of shorts worn by a small merboy and wonder how such beautiful fabric could have been woven under the water.
We are divided into humans and merfolk, sitting in groups across from each other. I have been wondering if the merfolk can speak, and how they do under the water. Then they begin to speak to us in English, to tell their story.
At this point, the dream shifts slightly and it is as if I am watching a school play about these merfolk and their first contact with the people of Earth. Only, as the story unfolds we discover that some of them used to be like us – people who walked on the land.
One is a woman who disappeared back in the 1920s. She has been recognised by one of our group, and she is miraculously unaged. I wonder how she came to join the merfolk, and how she learnt to breathe and talk under the water, or to swim like a fish.
As her story unfolds, I see another merwoman weeping. I realise there is some strong bond between these two women – that perhaps the merwoman had something to do with bringing this earth woman to live in the sea, and now she knows she is going to lose her.
I am watching the play and struggling not to weep myself at the sadness of the story. Other merfolk tell their stories, and are discovered to be people, just like us, who went missing many years ago. Why did they go? And why have they revealed their story now?
The dream ends and I am struck by its fantastical and mythical nature – like being inside a fairytale. And how deeply I am moved by the plight of these people who have crossed from one world to another and are now returning. I cannot remember the whys or the details of their stories, but only how sad they were.
31 May 2005