(Not-really-a) Story in Short #27: Ode to a Billboard


Dream, asks the billboard. Asks? This the 21st century. Dream! The billboard demands I dream.  Without the billboard I have no dreams, without my dreams the billboard has no purpose. Bold and agitating, the billboard greets me at 3:30 pm each day when I leave Victoria station on the southbound train for Margate. Dream! What is the billboard really demanding of me?

A dream of being somewhere else.

Not on this train, squished up against a man chewing and splintering the hardened, salted skin of a dead pig. It’s Friday and the masses have treated themselves to an early MacDonald’s dinner. The carriage reeks of beef and fried chips. What else? A dream of being a better person. Maybe the billboard is demanding me to dream of my ex-girlfriend.

Believe me, billboard, I need no prompting.

The billboard sells me these dreams like processed meat wrapped in non-recyclable paper. Commercialization of our most secret and private moments. Human’s don’t dream of life insurance, billboard. We don’t dream of holidays to Mauritius or a brand-new BMW. When we dream we visualize the most perfect moments and the most disgusting, distressing anxieties. Fears, embarrassments, loves. Our dreams are dirty and unclean, billboard!

If you could see my dreams, billboard, you’d never demand my dreaming. My dreams are filthy and sensual. Alluring in their all-encompassing ‘me-ness’. When we tell others about our dreams, billboard, they don’t understand. Our friends can’t understand! Not in the way a friend can make sense, at least, a sense, of the tasty cocktails you sipped on a white beach, or even, in a physical way, experience the leathery smell of your new hatchback.

Dreams are designed, by nature, to be unintelligible to anyone but the dreamer. When you tell me to dream, billboard, you’re demanding my ignorance!

You’re telling me to forget the disgusting things I dream of. You’re telling me to pretend that I’m an ordinary person, and that I’m living a life worth insuring. You’re telling me that a cheap thrill on a Caribbean island will help me to forget that I’m essentially dying, day by day. Never presume naivety and innocence, billboard. I hate you and everything you are.


This was inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short novel, Notes from Underground.

6 thoughts on “(Not-really-a) Story in Short #27: Ode to a Billboard

  1. Inspiring writing. You captured the closeness and disgusting-ness of being on a train really well.

    “I hate you and everything you are.” Hahahaha. Haha. This tickles me. I don’t know. I just love the build to that line, and the fact that’s it’s the last line too.

    Keep up the good work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I’ve had some up close and personal experience with just the worst human beings on the train. I think the best time is on Friday nights and everyone is drunk, at least then everyone isn’t just so secretly ANGRY at each other and weirdly silent.

      Thanks as always, Pooky! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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