“A Man’s Dream” (short story) by Yael Furman
English Publication History: Zion’s Fiction (Mandel Vilar Press, 2018)
Original: Hebrew (2006, חלום של גבר)
Translated by Nadav Miller Almog, 2018
Synopsis: Three people live in a personal hell, the dreams of which are summoned by Yair, a man with an unconscious fixation. When Yair dreams of a person, that person is transported from wherever they were to materialize next to him. Unfortunate for Galia, she seems to be Yair’s current fixation, having been displaced from her own own sleep (leaving her sleeping next to him), her commute (leaving her car careening without a driver), and ever her work (leaving her meeting without her attendance). His wife, Rina, continually pesters him about his fixation, but neither her nor the authorities seem to be able to do anything about it without causing him death. As a so-called Dreamer, Yair knows the trouble he causes, but the frustration is only truly reflected upon Galia’s reactions, which have now come to a boiling point.
Analysis: Evidence of emotional guilt rarely becomes more physical beyond a blush, tremor, or verbal outburst. Knowing something is wrong doesn’t the wrong-doer from doing that something. It becomes a battle of the ego and the id, the conscious desire and the unconscious desire. In terms of Yair, his unconscious desire for Galia doesn’t stop when he consciously deems his dream-state behavior to be wrong. The ember of guilt rages with greater friction between his ego and id, thereby manifesting Galia more often and at more inconvenient times. Yair is unable to resolve this friction as the outlet for “fulfilling” his desire may only exacerbate the situation, leading him and Galia down a path with two forks: allow the obsession to wax or wait for the obsession to wane.
Review: Yair plays something like an absent-minded grandfather in the story. He acts like he’s done no harm, urges himself to do better, yet fumbles upon the same folly time and time again. Though both Galia and Rina are the victims of his unconscious fixations, the reader can relate to Yair. It’s not his fault that he’s a Dreamer. Considering the damage he’s doing to Galia’s life, should his own life by restricted in any way for his inborn gift/curse/power/disability? At first, it’s a fun and curious story, but deeper down it’s a story imbued with gender equality, victim rights, and accountability.