What we call “death,” is but the painful metamorphosis. —Edgar Allan Poe
The diagnosis is fatal. Mortal. Sanguine coursing through the flesh, puddling on the floor. Possibly inaccurate to state that Mary Shelley wrote her famous novel because of her miscarriage and a nightmare. Anne Rice has invoked her personal tragedies into her vampire hero. What happens when the tragedies are only a dream?
Building the Causeway
I’m awaken three hours early. Even though the house is cold – possibly, colder than outdoors – I’m slicked with sweat. When I return to my bed, I drift back into the dreamworld. I’m not allowed in the happier parts these days. Most of my dreams are surreal. Odd. Never pretty, but never scary, either. Last night, the rules changed.
I don’t brag about much, but I do like to boast about my ability to control my dreams. When something isn’t to my liking, I can segue into the next dream. The key is to always remember you’re dreaming. Never let the dream become to realistic, which I assume most men do – though, I don’t dream of well endowed lovers.
Last night’s dream, however, wouldn’t allow me to ignore it. The more I segued and reminded myself that I was asleep, that I was dreaming, the more it pushed itself on me. Erase the thought and go into another dream and there it was, just waiting for me.
“It’s just a dream,” I told myself. “It’s not real.” And the same news would hit me. The same words. I couldn’t even cry at the news. “It’s just a dream,” I said. “None of this is real.” And the people I loved would stare at me in wonder. I was taking the news hard, they said. I wasn’t in shock. It was normal. “No. None of this is truth.”
Reach for the Hand Brake
My mother always told me to reach for the hand brake. Just pull it up and the car will stop its descent.
As a child, my recurring dream involved Javier’s Dodge pickup truck. Left alone inside, the truck begins to move from its parking space. I’m panicking, calling out for help but the glass silences my voice.
“Reach for the hand brake,” she advised. “It’ll stop the truck.”
My mother trained me unwittingly to survive my nightmares. When sleep paralysis started, the rules changed. Logic helped – no such thing as demons outside the metaphorical; aliens don’t really abduct people.
But what of the realistic?
Then there were the dreams that hammered themselves into my mind, creating memories out of nothing. They felt and smelled and looked real. From searching for money that I remember I shoved into such and such novel to picking up a conversation that never happened. These dreams are the ones I don’t pay much mind because they’re harmless fun. And they make me feel stupid when I recall them as memory. It’s okay to laugh at yourself.
Last night’s dream, however, imposed itself upon me.
You’ll Remember Me. For the Rest of Your Life.
“The doctors said it wasn’t worth their time,” she said.
“Fuck you!” I said. “Fuck them. How is it not worth their time?”
“Too far gone.”
“Not much they could do.”
“Heart was weak.”
“I can’t go into work today. I’ve a funeral to attend.”
“I can’t work. I can’t. This isn’t happening.”
But it is.
In the fog of the day, I did my best to shake myself from its coil. Nothing work. There were points when the memory of the dream nearly brought me to tears. Another thing I can brag about is my ability to act as if I’m happy, not matter what’s eating me.
I wanted to miss work, but I forced myself. If life cannot crush me, a dream wouldn’t win this war. One things, for sure, I’m never speaking of this dream in full.