"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awoke, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man."
When I awoke from my dream, I didn't think I was a butterfly. But I was confused as to where I was and whether what I had dreamt had really happened. Was it a memory? Or was it just a dream?
The experience inspired me to write Her, part fiction, part reality, mostly a surreal download of what I recalled from my dream. The piece was a tad short for even a short story, so I filed it in my "writing ideas" folder and — forgot about it.
Until twenty-five years later, when in September 2017, I was asked to review a collection of microfiction, Loopholes by Susan McCreery, for Writing NSW. In doing so, I realised microfiction was the perfect genre for my short-short story.
So I dusted off and polished my microfiction piece and published it on Tall And True. I wrote Her back when I was just thirty-years-old, I'm now in my mid-fifties. But reading it today, I still recall the intensity of the dream and the confusion of waking from it. Perhaps it's just as well I didn't dream I was a butterfly!
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Tall And True is an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers.
Please read Her and let me know what you think of my microfiction dream.
© 2018 Robert Fairhead
N.B. An earlier version of this post also appears on my blog at RobertFairhead.com.
A middle-aged dad and dog owner, Robert Fairhead is an editor and writer at Tall And True, and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com.
His favourite pastimes include reading and writing, walking his dog, and watching Aussie Rules Football with his son. He is also a part-time dog trainer and runs classes at his local dog training club and through Robert's Responsible Dog Training.
Robert has worked as an electrician, a computer programmer, and a sales and marketing consultant, and he is the principal copywriter at Rocher Communications.
His book reviews and writing on dogs have appeared in newspapers and online. And in 2020, he published a collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story.
Robert has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.