Transcript for Dark Depths, Episode 8 of An Author’s Dreams podcast

I’m in an office, giving a presentation to a group of women. We’re discussing the kind of snack that makes you feel good, instead of bloated and tired. I explain to the women that I’ve had Long Covid for 10 months and have been comfort eating throughout my illness. However, I add, I’ve recently starting drinking a healthy juice if I fancy a snack, a juice made by me at home in my juicer. It has to be 80% vegetable juice to really be effective, I’m thinking mainly carrots.

There is a silence and the women stare at me, as though I’ve just landed from another planet, which makes me deeply uncomfortable.

“You can add ginger and lemon and stuff to make it taste great!” I say. The women start nudging each other and sniggering, looking at me as though I am completely bonkers.

I smile, wanly.

“Or you could just have a kit kat.” I say, flatly. The smiles return to their faces. I’m on a roll.

“Or, in fact, one of those giant chocolate chip Taste the Difference cookies from Sainsburys” I say, exalting in my new found triumph, winning them over by talking chocolate.

They burst into applause and a look of warm fondness and appreciation spreads over their faces in unison, hugely relieved that I have freed them from the mental torture of imagining healthy carrot and ginger juice.

This is just like posting on Instagram, I think. None of them are interested in education or health. They just want cute, or dramatic, they want feelgood and reassurance, not restraint and self-improvement. Just give ’em what they want.

I’ve been given a giant baby to look after. My son, in my waking life, was a gigantic 10 stone 5 pounds at birth, but this baby is about 5 stone. He’s absolutely massive and as I hold him aloft he pisses in my face.

I’m out on a dog walk by the sea, the giant baby in tow somewhere out of sight.

I throw a ball for my dog and it rolls down a steep sand dune, ending up at the edge of the sea. The sea is fenced off due to the tide. The fence runs along the sea just where it touches the sand. Beyond the fence the sea looms, huge and dark in a great wall of black, impenetrable water. It is terrifying, but I need to retrieve my dogs’ ball.

I walk down to the wall of water and find the ball just this side of the fence which separates me from the glassy black wall of ocean, towering above me. Then I struggle back up the steep sand bank, which is now so steep it is almost vertical. It is more like a rock climb than a walk, attempting to reach the top of the bank, my husband Brian, the giant baby and our dog.

Now I am standing by a busy road. I have on me a gorgeous piece of resin I have cast and polished to resemble a smooth, polished lump of quartz crystal, a piece I have made to go into my shop, Zom Studio. Now the piece is not in my pocket but on the other side of the road, rolling away from me into a patch of grass. I can see it clearly, shimmering in between the blades of grass, in all the colours of the rainbow. It is beautiful and it is in danger of being lost forever.

I put my dog on a lead and carry the giant baby over the busy road to retrieve the piece of resin. I still see it, there in the bright green grass, twinkling in the sun. I reach my hand towards it and it turns into a red and white pill capsule which disappears into the grass so that I have to forage around for it.

Two men approach and stop, staring down at me, scrabbling in the grass with the giant baby and my dog. They look at me as though I am crazy, but somehow I manage to make everything look normal.

Now I’m in an office, watching a movie on a big screen. My colleagues are laughing at me because I live at the office. I even get my mail delivered there, which sometimes includes packages of photos I’ve had developed at the chemists because I’m old-fashioned.

My colleagues are all tossing it off, mindlessly scrolling on their phones. I decide to write an article. I move my desk and carefully position it with my back to wall so the room can’t see what I’m writing, in case I decide to join them and just toss it off instead of working.

I’m at the recycling centre, observing the woman who owns the business. Below her elbow, her lower arm looks like a gnarled tree branch, comprising two intertwining branches of flesh and bone, separated by a yawning gap in between them. Her arm is strangely fascinating and beautiful. She is wearing a top with transparent voile sleeves, which emphasises the splits in her arm.

As she lugs bins of waste into the appropriate sections, I realise that although she’s hugely wealthy, here she is, dealing with piles of shit.

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