Last night I dreamed I returned to the United Kingdom. I always meant to go back there, to live there for a time once more as I did when I was at University.
The last time I visited, I took my fourteen year old daughter. That was thirteen years ago. We enjoyed such an adventure. There was no plan. We traipsed around England, mostly staying in London, exploring freely.
London had changed a bit since my school days, but not so much as to lose that ambience of long endurance and that incredible air of fable. Time still seemed in long supply, and I believed I would return again. I did not factor in the world going quite so utterly mad.
My dream revealed a withered and dying United Kingdom, a divided and broken land, its culture and people utterly vanquished. South Kensington, the place I had lived as a student, was lined with crucified bodies, heads on spikes. Masked men wearing black robes patrolled the streets, heavily armed. In my dream, they turned to carrion birds to feed on the ashes of the land they conquered. It was horrifying. Perhaps, a symptom of playing too many video games and reading too much dystopian fantasy.
I woke up weeping for its demise more than I would for my country of birth. I rolled out of bed in the night’s darkest hours before dawn and immediately took to my computer to seek plane reservations that I might return there before my visions could come to fruition.
I believed I was awake in a bright morning to find my reservations well in place. I packed and gathered my passport and arrived in London. No, I had not awaken from my nightmare. The UK was still there, but it felt dead, like a movie set more than the real place. I told myself it was the hour of the day, and entered the tube station at Piccadilly Circus.
People packed into the platform and that gave me comfort. Here they all were, citizens of London, waiting for their train. The train came and true to nature, the people queued up to enter as a mechanized and polite voice reminded them.
“Mind the gap.”
No one did. By the time I boarded the train, all of those people disappeared into the gap which for me was a simple step and for them, an unscalable chasm. Then I awoke to my life once more, and I wrote this blog post. Let this only be a nightmare. Please, world, mind the gap.