by Joe MacCann

He wakes in his bed, in his bedroom, but something is different. That door, by the dresser, wasn’t there when he closed his eyes twenty minutes ago.

And the woman standing over him: she is new, too. “Hello Ben,” she says.


She hands him a small card. He starts to read it, out of habit, but stops within a few words.

“This is a dream,” he says.

She leans in towards him. Oh, one of those dreams.

“Breathe,” she says. Perfume, very faint.

“Ever had a sense of smell in a dream before? Or been able to read?”

He looks at the card again. There the words sit: hard, black and unmoving. This is not a dream.

He sits up shock straight in his bed. The woman is now sitting beside him.

“Who are you? How’d you get in here?”

“Read,” she says, tapping the card. “It’s quicker.” The card is small and squat, the words raised.



“I don’t know who put you up to this…” He hesitates: is she a Madam or a Miss? It is difficult to place her age. He settles on Miss, for safety.

“…Miss, but I think it’s time you left. You’re trespassing.”

His eyes return to where the woman was, but now she is sitting on the wooden locker at the bottom of the bed.

“Every year, the lawyer stuff. You aren’t in court now. Not exactly. And it’s Anna.”

He tries to get up, but suddenly finds that he can’t move his lower body.

“What have… have you drugged me?”

Her skin glows from the light behind her. Which is strange, “Sorry. It’s for your own safety.”

She crosses her legs and leans back a little, and now he sees it: the moon, inside his room, on the back wall.

“Please,” he says. “Take what you want.”

His eyes dart around the space. Who would hear if he called out? Since he bought the new house, no one.

Anna seems offended.

“I’m not here to take anything, if you help yourself. It’s all on the card.”

And now he can move his legs. He retreats within the bed, hard back against the headboard. His mobile phone, where did he leave it? The card is still in his hand, and he again reads it.



Panic gives way to understanding, which submits to a familiar feeling: confidence. He edges out towards her.

“So. Anna, was it? What do you need?” He smiles at her –  not a proper smile, a lawyer smile,  his eyes aren’t involved.


“For who?”

“It’s all on the card.”

“Can’t I speak to them myself? I negotiate for a living.”

“That would be unwise.”

He shrugs. Ok, he thinks. My wheelhouse. He starts a list rapid-fire.

“I’m a vegetarian, I made three hundred thousand this past financial year, gross, my resting heart rate is forty-two, I was in the Court of Appeal seven times this year, all wins, I don’t drink, I don’t…”

Anna raises her hand. “Slow down.”

She reaches into a bag that she didn’t have a moment before, and takes out a black pencil. She moves to the wall and takes down the moon, placing it onto her lap as she sits. It illuminates her face, and he is cast in shadow.

“So you’re a vegetarian. Who does that help?”

“Me, primarily. But you can tell them it helps the animals.”

Anna scribbles something onto the moon.

“It doesn’t work like that, I’m afraid. How much did you say you made?”

“300K. Gross”. He can’t keep the pride from his voice.

“And charitable donations from that?”

A beat.

“I’d need to check with the accountant.”

Anna upturns her pencil, vigorously rubs something out, and blows. Moondust glitters as it falls to the floor.

She turns her gaze upon him.

“I have a resting heartrate of forty two.”

“Very good. You said.”

“I don’t drink or smoke.”

“Perhaps you should start.”

“I was in the Court of Appeal seven times this year.” Her pencil is motionless.

“And I won seven. Well, six. Alright, five.”

The room is very still.

Anna stands, very slowly, and turns the moon towards him. Pale light floods his bed.

“You look tired, Ben.”

“I’ve been busy. Big caseload.”

Anna moves closer.

“I’ve been coming here since you could talk. I used to look forward to it. What happened to you? When did you become… this?”

She is sitting beside him now. She reaches out her hand, but he shrinks backwards.

“Stay away from me. If you touch me, I’ll…”

She doesn’t touch him. She shakes her head sadly.

“Where is Cassie?”

“She’s gone.”

And he pauses, as the words hit him. He looks around the room: at the bare walls, and the discarded suit trousers, and the oak furniture, and the change on the table, and the watch that Cassie bought him but he never wore, and at the strange creature in the blue dress, holding the moon in her right hand.

He starts to cry.  Not a lot at first, but then some more. Soon, he is crying like a child who has fallen and almost can’t take a breath for crying. He is keening.

She offers no comfort. She just waits.

After a time he stops.

He looks at her. “Tell them I don’t want it.”

“Want what?”

“Another year. I’ve wasted my life. I love no-one. I help no-one. I mean nothing. I’ll waste another year if I’m given it. Tell them.”

Anna pauses, as if weighing her words. The walls seem further away now, the light a little dimmer.

“If they accept, you’ll die in your bed tonight.”

“I don’t care. Tell them.”


She rummages around in her bag and takes out a form.

“Sign there, by the X. And there. Thank you.”

There is a knock on the door that wasn’t there when he went to sleep.

“That’s us,” she says, and stands to leave.

“Why don’t I ever remember this?” he asks.

“Clean slate, kid. Everybody gets one.”

Joe is from Toome, in Ireland. Cross the old bridge, past the football field, keep the lough on your right, & there he is. Though I wouldn’t start from here.