Vlad. Poor Vlad. He doesn't understand English. Doesn't understand the country, the strange place he's somehow ended up. Vlad fizzes. He's got so much inside him and it won't all come out. Won't come out smooth anyway. He has to bite it off. To spit it out in so many words, so drowned in ums and ahs, like kittens spilling from a cement mixer. Has to wave his arms around like this, as if to try and snatch the words from the air, or to ward off misunderstanding. Has to keep his friend close, to borrow language from, to fish out meaning when meaning fails him. How you say? Study? To study? Studying? Say again? Say again but...please, slowly. Sometimes he cannot contain it all, the rush of thoughts that gutter like fireworks in his brain. Sometimes it spills out of him in Russian, clean and angular as broken glass. And people stare at him uncomprehending, his words breaking over them in a pointless, ugly torrent, and he shakes his head and turns to his guide for meaning, and his guide cannot help him and he turns himself leaden again, to leaden English, and says sorry, and says it is hard, you know? And says, let me try again, and starts from the very beginning, stumbling like a blind man running over rocks.
In the dream you open the cupboard door to find not the array of coats and boots you were expecting but a fire, so hot it's blue and raging. The kind of fire that's a black hole for attention, for fingers, sucking you towards it like a tidal swell. The walls are burning. The floor is burning. You just stand there and stare, gripping the edge of the door like you'd grip the very edge of reality. There's no heat. No noise but that gentle hiss-anger-roar that fire makes as it moves through air. And somehow you're sure that this fire is your fire, meant for you, waiting for you laid there special like a snare. And it can be patient, you know that too. It won't come for you in the night because it knows it has you, it knows, and it's happy to wait. Your fire. You special fire. And when you wake to a darkened room and a sleeping wife you can't pretend you don't still hear it shouting.
Krishan Coupland was born in Southampton, and recently graduated from Staffordshire University. His work has appeared in Brittle Star, Aesthetica and 3AM Magazine. His website is: www.krishancoupland.co.uk.