I stepped out onto the cobbled street and into a dream.
It was dark and very quiet outside. I hear the clock in the market square chime. I can’t remember the number of times, but I knew it was the early morning. I looked around me, not scared, but very confused. Nothing was how it should be. I wandered up the steep hill to the to of Frenchgate, all the while looking around me. I couldn’t be dreaming because I felt everything intensely. I was out of breath from the steep climb. My high heels pinched my toes. When I reached the top of the hill, where Frenchgate met Richmond Road, I sat down on the ancient stone steps and rubbed my eyes again before looking down at the deserted street. Well almost deserted street.
A man walked a cow down the middle of the road, instinctively I knew he was taking it to market. He had the street to himself. There were no cars anywhere. The cobbles were worn with time, but not with tyres.
A light flickered on behind the window of what looked like a butcher’s shop. It was not bright enough to be an electric light. It was a candle or gas lamp. I heard a door slam and the sound of someone shoveling coal into a bucket. The town was waking up around me.
Would I wake up too?
I stood up and walked to the top of the steps, to Richmond Road, but there was no road. Not the kind of road I was accustomed to anyway. It was a rough, well-worn track. No car had ever been driven there.
How could this road have changed so much? I drove this road every day. I walked this way to school.
The house across the road was familiar to me, but different. It was covered in climbing roses and ivy. The front door beckoned me, there was a light shining from a bedroom window. I saw a face looking down at me for a fleeting moment, and then it was gone.
What should I do? I was starting to panic. What was happening to me? Surely this was a dream. I walked in the direction of the Market Square in the hopes of seeing someone. The air around me felt oppressive. I could hear a distant buzzing sound, like a radio that wasn’t tuned in.
Richmond Market Square had the familiar cobbles and town clock. The familiar market stalls were being erected ready for the day. I could see Richmond Castle behind the square.
Nothing else was familiar.
The sky grew a little lighter and more people appeared. Unfamiliar people in period dress. I sat in the market square, as I had when I was younger, and waited. In my youth I waited here for my bus home. There would be no busses today. People passed by me as though I were invisible, which was a relief. How would I explain my short skirt and high-heeled shoes to the sombrely dressed passers-by.
When was I going to wake up?