This aeroplane is crashing. There’s no doubt about it. As I look out of the window, I can see snow, trees, both far closer than they ought to be.
We seem to be descending parallel to a chair lift because our pilot is, apparently, attempting a wheels-up emergency landing on a ski slope. Although my knuckles tighten on the armrest and I brace for the impact, I’m surprisingly relaxed about this.
And then I wake up, as confused as hell. The aeroplane’s whirr is still constant and we’re still cruising at 38,000 reassuring feet. A few minutes later, I doze off again and – wouldn’t you know it? – we’re sinking again, inescapably, unavoidably earthbound... until the airliner becomes an absurdly agile train, skipping between wooden stepping stones where the tracks have run out, because that’s dreams for you.
Why does the mind do that? Why does my unconscious self decide it’s going to throw a situation into my head so unlikely that the chances of it happening might as well be nil, yet for rather more likely situations like, say, crashing a car – something so likely that I’ve even done it – it doesn’t.
I live on a road that is so fast and long and dangerous that barely a month goes by without an accident on it. Afterwards, unless it’s taken away quickly under a tarpaulin, a car will sit on the verge for a few days, ‘Police Aware’ sticker in the window, usually on its wheels and usually having ploughed through some mud, perhaps a road sign or, one time, the house I live in. And yet I never fear driving down my road.