“It’s strange, us standing here in this garden,” said my pretty former colleague, “when we could be going on a date… or something.”
“Yes, I agree,” I concurred. “It is strange.”

Small pink dahlia, yet to fully bud, growing out of a gravel path.
From the garden. Hold me closer, tiny dahlia.

It wasn’t the only thing that was strange. After all, this was a former colleague who I talk to on WhatsApp about two times a month and have met in person all of once since we both left the workplace at which we met. I also didn’t recognise the garden; they may have put it in since I left, but a cursory Google search tells me they have not.

What was also strange was that she was asking to go on a date with me, and she’s attached. I’m also married, and although I’m not always in these situations, I very much was in this case. Yet I just seemed to take this in my stride. Were we heading towards a relationship, despite everything?

Also, what happened to the place I’ve been working at for the past couple of years?

“So do you want to?”
“Do I want to what?
“Do you want to do it?”

I couldn’t give a straight answer without destroying the ambiguity of her question, which I quite liked. I also saw the pattern emerging: I’ll get the opportunity to have sex with the girl, but then something will happen to prevent it actually happening. This is how these things go. I decided to tap out of the situation, knowing deep inside that I could return to it later.

“Sure,” I said without elaborating. “But first I have to find [the name of another pretty former colleague who also started and finished at the same time as me, thus completing the trio], and ask her something…”

And I set off through the maze of corridors I didn’t recognise, swarming with members of staff I didn’t know and clients who I’m fairly sure were never connected with the company at all. Occasionally I entered a room to ask her whereabouts. Nobody knew, nor did they recognise her name. But of course they should have; she worked there. We all did. We were a trio.

Okay, I said to myself, this isn’t working. Let’s get back to the garden and see if [my first colleague] is still there. I’ll suggest that we can go on a date, and then maybe we’ll get to cuddle at some point. I can still be married and do this; where’s the harm?

If this sounds ethically dodgy to you, let’s bear in mind that I was, at this point, an hour late to get back to the room I worked in, and very aware that I was bunking off in order to flirt. Due to the fact that I couldn’t get back to the garden anyway, it looked like this was going the same way as they all do.

Zounds, it’s a dream, isn’t it? It’s a bloody dream; just wake up and then maybe you can reset to the start, and take a different path like a gamebook…

And then I suddenly needed to go to the toilet, so I woke up anyway.

And that reminds me, I idly thought as I clambered back into bed. I need to message her and ask how things are going at her job. It’ll be the end of her second year there and she might be looking to move on…

Just before I drifted back to my next dream, however, I had one more conscious thought.

That was weird.