Right at the beginning of my transition, I began to have a dream. It was about a future existence, in which I had fully completed my transtition. It seemed very real, very clear, and it became even more full of convincing detail with each repetition.
I am not an habitual dreamer, meaning of course (because we all dream every night) that I don't usually remember my dreams, or even that I have been dreaming. But I had this particular dream as often as every week back in late 2008 and early 2009. And it still occasionally recurs.
It's a pleasant enough dream. It's always set in a village that I have moved to. The village is like Marhamchurch, near Bude in north Cornwall, with elements of some other villages too, such as Week St Mary not far away, and Bradworthy over in the next county, Devon. It could certainly be the actual Marhamchurch; and my home in the dream is one of the bungalows near the top of Pinch Hill in the real village. Rather like my present home, but more stylish inside. The dream-Marhamchurch has a pub that forms the hub of village life, but with a different interior from the real one, that lends itself to dining in semi-privacy.
My dream involves enjoying an evening meal in the pub, as part of a foursome. I am fully-developed as Lucy, as feminised as I am ever going to get. I am not perfect. I still have, for instance, my big nose. In the dream I'm fully conscious that really close scrutiny might give me away. But I pass extremely well, and look pretty damn good for my age, and my voice and manner are even better than now. And that's the trouble, as you will see.
It's always an evening meal, always with the same three companions. One is a pretty, dark-haired natal woman who is my best friend in the village. Her name is Sue, and she's about fourty-five, slightly buxom, and a lively and vivacious person in every way, with a zest for life. She has a merry sense of humour, but also a serious, confidential side; and she knows that I am trans. I told her. It's our secret. Nobody else knows.
Sitting opposite us in the cosy village pub are two men named Ralph and Derek. I am quite certain of their names. They are not men of high culture, but both are well-off: businessmen with many interests, and considerable local clout. Ralph inherited his father's agricultural machinery and feed business, but has diversified into sports and adventure holidays. He owns a boat and a plane. Derek is basically a builder, but has property and leisure ventures all over the south-west. Both have done well, staying ahead of the game and making no mistakes. Both have money and some leisure. They not only play golf; to some extent they enjoy all the traditional pursuits of the well-heeled country gentleman. Money can buy almost anything.
Ralph is in his late forties, separated, nearly divorced, and I first met him through his twenty-something daughter, who lives with him. Her car broke down in a lonely country lane, and then I came along. I drove her home so that Ralph could take charge of the problem. Ralph insisted on my staying for a rather liquid lunch. It was indeed a very good lunch, but I felt his amiable curiosity rather too much, and I half-feel that Ralph has guessed, though I don't know for sure. He hasn't chased me: he has other fish to fry in that regard, Sue among them.
Derek is a bit older, and is long divorced with no family. I fancy he finds it hard to make full use of his time, now that his businesses run themselves. He has a thing about me, not quite a blind passion, but it has something of that flavour. At any rate, he's in hot pursuit. There's nothing actually wrong with Derek, but I really don't fancy him, and I feel I need to keep one step ahead of him - because if I don't, he will corner me with some invitation that I will find extremely difficult to refuse. Or bury me in presents that I don't want. Derek is persistent and clever and absolutely charming; and impossible to snub - doubly so if politeness is built into your soul, as it is with me. He knows that. He senses that he's got me on the run. My task in the dream is to put him off, and get him under control, with of course Sue's connivance.
The meal is a very good one, absolutely delicious. Ralph is in fine form, telling story after story, all of them with a light touch. He is remarkably urbane. Sue is in fits of laughter. Derek's forte is conversation, slower stuff, but the kind of talk that spins out the evening so that drink follows drink, and resistance becomes weaker.
Sue and I take time out.
'Derek's got an eye for you tonight, Lucy! I think he's going to put a proposition to you. Such as marriage.'
'Over my dead body! We must put him off somehow. Sue, I'm going to tell him the truth about me.'
'Do you think he'll care? I think he knows already. We need a better plan than that.'
'Let's pretend I'm a raving lesbian then.'
'Right. Back to the table!'
And so we go back, but despite a graphic description of my supposed lesbian misbehaviour with half the village, including Sue herself, Derek says it's all right by him, and produces a ring. Oh my God. And there the dream ends, and I have no idea what I say next. It's so frustrating.
The curious thing is that the dream has so far been so lifelike that I sort of believe it could come true. So that one day, when seeking a pub meal in a north Cornwall village, I will actually encounter a real-life Sue and Ralph and Derek, and somehow get drawn into sharing a table with them. With a result that will follow my dream word for word and act for act. A classic piece of deja-vu: I have been here before.
But surely there will be differences? For instance, the real-life Derek can't form an intention to pop the question on only a couple of hours acquaintance. There has to be a different outcome. The question is, what? And will it be pleasant? Or something dreadful?
What about the others? Are there in fact three other people who have quite separately been having a dream just like mine, and like me, are also wondering whether it could happen in real life? If so, will we all be watching in fearful fascination as the evening unfolds, unable to speak about what is happening, unable to get up and go, unable to escape whatever real ending the dream has?
When much, much younger I saw a film called Dead of Night, in which an architect arrives at a house that he has dreamed about, and encounters a set of people staying there for the weekend, all of whom appear in his dream. At first they pooh-pooh his fantasies, until he begins to correctly predict things that they do, and what happens next. Things that inexorably lead him into a horrible nightmare.
Maybe I should avoid Cornwall!