it was dark. pitch black, and you couldn’t see, no matter how hard you tried, that precipitous place where the sea met the sky. the stars shed no light, just black holes, as if the entire thing were a canvas chewed by moths, eaten through and billowing in a breeze you could feel winding it’s way into your skin. you climbed inside the tail of a mechanical fish made of a thousand faceted pieces of glass, each one connected to the other by a golden strip of lead, tarnished by years and years of submersion in the briny water. you called it your church and your hair was long, a wilted rose pinned to the front of your shirt. gas lights glowed as it sunk beneath the surface; you said you’d know your lover when you emerged. I waited on a floating dock of rotting wood, in the middle of that dark, dark sea, sprayed over and over with cold water, sitting in pools of it, knees drawn to my chest, hair twisting behind me in tangled ropes. I could hear the glass fish circling beneath the dock, closer and closer, until the tip of each wave began to glow. and then there you were, sitting behind me. there was just enough light for me to see you clearly, perhaps from a moon that I couldn’t recall. and that smile. I knew then that you could see me, too; that you knew me. and so we stayed there, resurrected into something innocent, something pure.
I dreamed we were in a wooden house, a house with no rooms, just balconies and stairs stacked precariously atop one another. all the people I loved were there but they had no faces…they were so exhausted, so fragile that their faces had begun to melt away and they lacked the energy to do a single thing about it. over the side of one of the balconies, framed against an orange sky there were tree branches, hundreds and hundreds of twisting branches…branches and frogs that I understood to be deadly. “the frogs…” they said, “the frogs must not come in.”
while everyone around me wasted away, I grabbed a tree branch, the only one not crawling with frogs and brought it over the edge of the balcony, layed it on the floor. and when I moved it, I found that inside there was a single frog hiding among the leaves…large and purple and painted with an intricate web of daisies. and from the heart of that frog sprung a troll…a disgusting beast of a troll, pale and tall and hulking. without a second thought he went after all those people I loved, the ones with the fading faces. The way I understood it, he wouldn’t kill them right away, just keep coming at them until they hit the floor dead from exhaustion, so spent, so utterly lifeless that their hearts would beat slower and slower until eventually they stopped beating altogether.
and I was so mad, so completely furious, knowing that in their vulnerability their faces might fade forever. at my feet there was a bat, roughly carved from the trunk of a tree. I reached for it, took it in my hands. they screamed no, voices that came from everywhere and nowhere all at once, from mouths already melted into obscurity.
he never even saw me. I hit him in the back, watched him fall over the balcony, heard him hit the ground below. I looked down over him, surrounded by splintered wood, arms and legs resting at impossible angles…and I realized I was grieving for the frog, the purple one with the pretty face and painted flowers.
I was grieving for the frog and I didn’t know why.
these days my dreams are too colorful, too surreal. a little too warped to try and interpret, a little too hard for my mind to want to remember. and I sleep fitfully, one image rolling into the next, a kaleidoscope of things I never understand…except one dream was different, a lucid moment in the middle of a nightmare. I dreamed we’d had the baby, a girl, and her name was Guinevere. we’d never moved, but instead carved a place for her out of the wall in the bedroom upstairs to share with her brother, a space of her own that hadn’t existed before. I slept below her crib on a pile of fur blankets, listening to her quiet breathing, waiting for her eyes to open. B came and lied down next to me, face curled into the curve between my neck and my shoulder. he looked up and spoke just once. ‘I love her.’
Last night I had a dream that you were walking a path that wound through ancient woods, through painted valleys…a path entrenched in uncertainty and terror, of bewilderment and danger. It was hazy and the clouds were thick. It was dark and the sky was purple, stars crystal, trees cast shadows against the sky a thousand feet tall. When you found me, it was daylight and the sun hovered just above your head, raining gold down on your hair, on the crown of flowers that covered your eyes. You’d come to tell me you’d found my field of orchids.
It was more than a dream…bigger than a dream. In my heart it was real, a memory from a past life where we were nomads, travelers, wanderers. I loved you then and I love you now…sisters, brothers, two sides of the same coin. A thousand moons and a thousand years could separate us and nothing would ever change…our lives spinning, orbiting, merging…and I think you’re the only one who understands that.
The other night I had a dream, the kind of dream that lingers with you long after you wake and your mind settles, the kind of dream you remember when your hair turns gray, your bones brittle, and your memories begin to wander. In this dream, I was in a house. In this house, the hallways were winding labyrinths, rooms opened to smaller rooms, and smaller rooms still. The rooms were full of people…people I’d only ever met in dreams, created in my head, thriving on my thoughts. I couldn’t find the stairs. I was trapped, looking for an old friend, looking for the labyrinth. Someone came to me, took the baby from my arms. “Search.” I let them take the baby. I searched. In the darkest corner of the house, I felt something in my hair. Gentle first, then thrashing. I was facing a mirror. In the mirror were the eyes of the man who was supposed to have my baby, lifting a winged beast to my head, no baby in his arms. I ran. He followed, the beast’s wings flapping, mouth open to strip the hair off my head, devour my soul. I had to find my baby. I kept running. And there he was…on a broken ledge beneath the rotting staircase, dangling on the splintered wood, so close to falling. I reached for him, held him to my heart and ran into the sunlight. An old woman sat beneath a gnarled and smoking tree, black branches twisted and charred. “Your friend,” she whispered, ‘would like to talk to you.” From the ground she pulled a flower, dead, brittle, broken. She handed it to me. “Speak.” I held the flower to my ear, thorns drawing blood from my cheek. I heard a voice. It was cold, cruel…the voice of a dragon. It wasn’t my friend. The voice laughed into my ear and the sound hurt, pained me, scarred me. I wanted it to stop. I crumbled the flower in my hand, dust shimmering dead in the light. I threw it, begged the wind to carry it far…far away. It fell at my feet. The voice wasn’t silenced, the vile laughter rained down from the sky. I cried. I held my baby and I cried. One tear fell from my eyes, mixed with the blood on my cheek. Where it landed, it stained the ground crimson and the sun exploded into a thousand stars.
I had a dream about you last night. I dreamt I came down to see you and when I looked into your bowl, I saw that you had grown two very perfect, very blue little legs. And when I saw what you had done, you died, turned black, and withered away…you died because you tried to be something you were never meant to be, something completely, gut-wrenchingly unnatural. If you just would have resisted the urge to deny what you really were, I’m sure you would have lived forever. It just wasn’t in the stars for you, my love, to be anything other than a pretty little fish. And fish do not have legs. You shouldn’t have tempted fate like that.
last night, for the first time in a long time, there were no dragons in my dreams. instead, i dreamt – unsoundly- that alex died. and when he took his last breath, the sun turned black and burned out of the sky.
I had a bad dream last night…Alex told me I was screaming and struggling and crying in my sleep and there was nothing he could do to wake me up, instead I latched on to him and kept on crying.
In this dream, there was a Jurassic Park in Lithia and someone whispered in my ear that all the dinosaurs were going to escape. No one believed me, and everyone I told disappeared. I lost Alex. The dinosaurs escaped and I was running with Jt, Amanda, and Caden screaming that we had to leave or hide, because we would most certainly die otherwise. And then I saw Niko, the little boy from the class I teach at Julestarz that makes me heartsick, and he was crying, terrified out of his mind. He was alone and his parents had left him. I grabbed him and we ran and protecting him was all that mattered. And then he was eaten and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I couldn’t save him. I woke up later crying and Alex was at work and there was no one to latch on to or shake me out of it.
And then tonight while I was cooking dinner, Alex sat in the living room, transfixed by his guitar, trying to learn a certain song….Penelope by Pinback.
It’s depressing me
To see you struggle
I’m treading water with my oars
Glass galeons anchored, oceans floor
I’m diving down with all my gear
In search of treasure, para mi corazon
Take you to the forest
Let you feel the raindrops falling down
Seeping through your redscales
Eliminate the faucet
Eliminate the need for water
Replace it with a safe shell
These dreams of mine have been growing increasingly warped and twisted, becoming less and less lucid. They aren’t necessarily the nightmares that bathe my mind in darkness… but they’re physically exhausting, leaving no room for simple peace. Just normal technicolor dreams where everything is screaming and buzzing and morphing…and my mind is on fire with them and i get stuck inside them, trapped inside the workings of my own head. The images start before I’ve fallen asleep and they commandeer my mind…where they lash out and besiege me with stories that don’t make sense and images I would rather not have seen. And I have to fight them all the way to the surface of sleep and they try to hold me down, pulling me and fighting me, and when I pry open my eyes I feel like I’ve been drowning and I feel suddenly, inexplicably lost. It’s a disgusting feeling to, for any fleeting second, to feel lost in your own perfect home…in your own perfect life. I lay there in the morning, broken and numb, phasing out these dreams, shaking off their grip. And then I wonder where the nightmares have gone…and if they will return.