He still dreams of it. Like the sense of falling from a great height when on the cusp of sleep, there is the sensation of plunging not to the ground but within it. The barely lit shafts that he descended countless times in rickety metal cages to scoop ore out of the honeycombed tunnels rattle in his ears. Listening for the groan of the timber struts, feeling the stifling warmth of the earthen walls, sniffing for wafts of gas long-held but now released by the unwanted movement below the surface. Eyes searching the blackness, barely encroached upon by his headlamp. At the time he’d dreamt of wide blue skies, of sweet clean air.

His days are now spent above ground, but his dreaming moments remain below the surface.

Flash fiction inspired by writing group prompt.

[Photo: sign spotted at State Coal Mine, Lithgow]