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Like a Heartbeat (Drives You Mad)

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Pan has always told Daria about her dreams; Daria has never returned the favour. Pan had always presumed that Daria liked hearing about Pan’s strange nocturnal flights of fantasy, because her own were boring to the point of non-existent. Instead Daria has told her about her own pension plans and investments, a different kind of intimacy, Pan thinks she hears what Daria is trying to tell her, that she can take care of Pan, offer her security and safety. Pan finds it comforting and presumes in turn that Daria is vicariously enjoying her weird dreams, the way other people enjoy escapist fiction.

Their minds don’t work the same way, but it’s that contrast that’s always drawn them together. They make a complimentary contrast.


Daria tells people – mostly Pan, very few other people in this new life she’s built for herself care enough to ask – that she doesn’t dream, or that if she does dream she doesn’t remember them. It’s not an uncommon state of affairs in their post-rupture world. It is nevertheless a lie. A small, seemingly innocent one, but one that is slowly leading them both towards another kind of rupture altogether. Because Daria does dream, over and over, the same one, a nightmare that consumes her and taunts her. The revulsion she feels at both the dreams and herself for having brought this on herself, the years of sleepless nights, are slowly taking their toll on her mind, sometimes Daria thinks it’s only her iron self control that has stopped her going mad. She listens to Pan’s strange and wonderful dreams and she longs desperately to tell her about her own dream. To share the burden, as though that would give her some relief, instead of damning them both. So she keeps her secrets and keeps them safe – the possibility of relief, as yet unable to outweigh the potential pain of the rejection she is certain to receive.


Daria would never have wished this horror on Pan, could never wished her own torment on anyone she cared about. Nonetheless, the prospect of not being alone in this anymore sparks a dangerous flame of hope in her heart. Perhaps, Pan’s experience with her own strange and wonderful dreams will have given her tools, that together they can use to cope with this terrible nightmare. Daria wants to no longer be alone in this so desperately, that the longing burns inside her – the way the dream does, consuming everything in it’s path – so brightly that she cannot look at it directly or for longer than moments at a time. Normally any new feeling is subjected to close scrutiny, Daria would take it out and examine it carefully until she could pin it down and name it, before dealing with it accordingly. In this as in so many other ways, Pan upturns all Daria’s carefully arranged mental order and logic. She is practically delirious with hope, but no matter how much she tells herself that this is dangerous and stupid, she cannot make it stop.

It never occurred to Daria that the very thing that has taunted her and twisted her up inside for all these years, would have a very different effect on Pan. That their minds were truly so completely different. That where she sees revulsion and horror, Pan would see joy and beauty. They are both sick with the same virus, but where it eats at Daria like a cancer, destroying everything it touches, it seems to light Pan up from the inside, to make her…blossom. The realisation makes Daria sick to her stomach, and causes a strange dull ache to take up residence in her chest cavity.

It won’t be until weeks later, walking in the park with the truth finally in the open between them, that Daria will allow herself to acknowledge the cause of that ache. That it was her heart, breaking.

Daria was right on both counts, telling Pan the truth has lifted this terrible burden from her shoulders, and it will undoubtedly destroy them both. But when she looks at the hope and joy on Pan’s face, she finds that she believes that it is, that it will be, worth it.