The Bad Dream ; The Night Mare

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It was an island. A temperate climate may be assumed. Caribbean? Perhaps. Maybe farther north? south? east? west? Perhaps. But there were no people there. It was warm, but that’s only unnatural in the extreme climes of the world. A sandy beach shrugged its disillusion with the world. If the beach were full of people, the sound of the waves would be drowned by the sighs of relief gasped by its patrons. As it was, I lay there alone. Like a stingray, I buried my body into sand enclaves waiting for movement to pass above me. Everything seemed safe.
Lonely, yes, but very safe. The sun hung in the sky, but I was not bothered by its presence. I felt neither burn nor squint affect my being. The generous mist from the water did not cling to your skin and burrow into your bones. It generated life and feeling, but it did not overwhelm you with the beingness of living. I lay my head back and allowed my head to mould into the sand bed around me. My arms extended and nonchalantly buried, as I opened my hands to the universe absorbing its micro-vibrations.
Pulsating through my body, I could feel life. I was alive, but it was the second thought. First I felt life, then I felt alive. They are two different feelings. Their order depends on your connection to your inward being. Life stirs in you, gently nudging you into existence. But feeling alive, those are the explosions that abrasively thrash you into being. The sweet pleasure of biting down on a sore tooth. A sour orange that causes you to shrink your face in delight. The feeling when a lover lingers over your face, slowly, tantalizingly, teasingly leaning in to kiss you. The passion. The delight. The love.
It was calm and slow-moving. An eternity had passed, yet it could not have been so long. Without clock, calendar, or sooth-sayer, time was immaterial—as it always is. Hah! I could not awaken. I lay there feeling that eternity within me.
A disturbance caused me to stir. A small beast, asleep nearby, hiccoughed in sleep: yelp! yelp! yelp! The frightened being twitched at the resonance of each yel- and fell into deathly stillness at the p. I rolled over, hair falling into my face, sand raining from my body, and I placed my hand gingerly upon the heart of the beast. Suddenly the fear was snuffed and a small smile could be felt throughout our bodies. Gentle, operatic snores replaced the fear within the beast. Smiling, I moved back to the imprint of my body. In a mock outer-body experience, I smiled at the negative space. Appearing much larger than my form, I confronted the duality of the space. Here I gazed; there, I no longer was.
As I nestled into the comatose reality of being and non-being, a sound recalled me to the world-as-it-is. A familiar voice called my name. Ah, the friend-of-a-friend, for whom I nurtured a soft-spot. His mouth curved over my name and butterflies soared. Actually, they soared. A canopy of them swam from the sea and entangled themselves in the affairs of our hearts. He ran deliciously across the beach towards my unrealities. Suddenly, questions of being and non-being were throttled back as the physical world of doing overwhelmed the tenses that confused before. A new verb, if you will.
He grabbed my hand. “Hello!”
“Hiya!” I softly cooed, happily.
“I didn’t think anyone else was here.” He said. I didn’t reply. Sometimes, when you have a lot to say, nothing can be said. He looked at me, expectantly. Still, I said nothing. “Hm,” he mumbled, “so, have you heard from Agatha lately?”
“Actually, yes. We spoke yesterday about this book I was reading. But, I’ve been changing books faster than a race car driver shifts gears. Only difference is that I never finish one. Weirdly.” It was a poorly statement. Indeed, inside, I had retracted my promise to live in the present. Before my eyes Huysmans’s Paris swam before my eyes, little cafés filled the air with the merging scents of frosty white wine, freshly ground coffee beans, and petite madeleines. How does one share those thoughts? How do they become communicable?
“Right,” He said. “So, do you want to come run an errand with me?”
Compelled, I responded in the affirmative. He guided me towards a vespa. We climbed upon it and began our journey at a comical pace. Yet, now that our bodies were so close, conversation flowed easily. Is there a relational proximity that dissolves self-awareness, inhibition, and fear? Does physical presence reduce the desire to slip into the cognitive abyss?
Recently, he had been on an trip over the hills and under the mountains. He detailed how his travels had shaped him, changed him, altered his senses of reality. Now, he was different. Before, he claimed, he had just been a shell of a being. Of course, these claims always sound so mystifying and intoxicating as the speaker says them. Magical. A spell is cast over my soul because I covet growth. Growth shows passion and love for the world, an intrinsic curiosity that sparks my soul.  
I gasp at all the right places, laugh and giggle, and flatter. I share my own stories of my travels, unsure that I’ve grown at all. I feel slightly un-dertraveled, un-knowledgable, un-worthy. Occasionally, I discuss things I’ve read. Is it still my life if I’ve read these things from another’s mind? No, stop it. Pay attention.
The scenery unwinds into luscious valleys of trees. Gentle and rolling hills push and pull our bodies clumsily into one another as we drive on. This all feels safe. We arrive at a set of storage lockers. The island felt uninhabited, how can there be storage lockers. As we dismount the vespa and check our teeth for bugs, we walk towards the lockers. A key glimmers in his hand.
He looks down at me from his tall, graceful stature. I lift my hand towards his with the key, but he pulls this one away from me. He opens his palm and shows me the key.
“We have to deliver a package. We’ll have to go into the waters and swim to our destination,” he says. I do not question this. We walk into the centre of the maze of lockers. Fearing a minotaur, I keep track of the twists and turns. It would be ludicrous to start unravelling a ball of yarn now! We arrive at the locker. He attempts to steady me with a meaningful look, but I am not prepared for what is inside.

A sea of white.

Package upon package of what seems to be a drug. “Cocaine,” he whispers. I am not sure I can back out now. I swallow and, eyes wide, I nod. He does not tell me that he has to do this to save someone. Nor does he tell me he is doing it for the money. He just does it. I do not question it. Remember? We changed verbs. He lifts the package and places it in my arms. He grabs another package. I sweat and suppress a soft chuckle—the yarn seems less ridiculous now.
The journey back to the beach seems less easy-going. Of course, everything has changed. That is glaringly obvious. A cloud of being trapped eclipses all earlier feelings of freedom. To be or not to be is irrelevant. He tells me that we’ll both swim with a package to the next island. The waters are free from any threat and not cold. In fact, he says steadily, they’re quite warm. I don’t ask how many times he’s done this. How many love-sick friends he’s tricked into this. But I wasn’t tricked, I didn’t ask. I never asked.
I dove into the water. The warmth of the water immediately warmed my soul. One cannot continue to feel overwhelmed by fear and anxiety when they reach their element. Submerged, I swam. The water parted and played with my hair. Gentler than wind, the water kissed my skin and urged me forward. Swimming was beautiful. Fear was an unrecognized concept.
We reached the next island. An island surrounded by choppy waters. Inhospitable. I wondered how cocaine could serve anyone on this island. But the thoughts were short-lived. The water powerfully jostled us as through we were in a bowl of jello on changing fault lines. We arrived, and he took the package I brought with me. He left me, and he disappeared inland. He returned. He brought coconut cookies and coffee. We sat in silence.
“So,” I choked out, breaking the silence, “are we going back?” He studied my face for some time. Perhaps it was too indefinite a question—leaning towards abstraction. How do we go back from that? He answered my question in the practical and literal sense:
“No. We go home.”
***

We arrived home. It felt broken. Everything. As I walked through the front door of my house, hair tangled and free flowing, I saw them. The police had camped outside my door.

Reality. A real location. Real consequences. Cops stood in lines…endless lines of donut-chewing cops. Coffee cups littered the street. A true crime, I thought. Surely, not what I did.

I walked into the kitchen—sobbing. Barely able to breathe, the pressure of the truth collapsing my lungs. I tried to explain as my parents stood around me. I could not speak. I saw it all spiralling into nothingness. Negative space triumphant.

Again, another outer-body experience. The scene played before me. The music of the scene was full-bodied, like the taste of a rich-flavoured chianti. The actual sounds of the scene muted, as the violins wailed their truth over all. Slowly angelic voices cried their sorrow. Their implicit judgement over badness telling the audience how to see the scene before them.

She deserves this.

Where was the beast who would awaken me from this nightmare?

—end.

It started off as a dream about Empire and ended as a ten minute time out by the umpire.

Two little boys, according to Linda Colley, were preparing to embark on a journey to Africa from England in the early nineteenth century.  Of course, this fact may be true, but Linda Colley did not share it, and yet, the pages were crisp and clearly printed in phantasmic creation.  She continued to write how they had not known each other, but that they felt an immediate sense of fraternity and hatred for each other, as little boys are wont to do.  They were frightened by the separation, as if they had known each other forever, and were now being separated by the circles of Hell.  This immediate bond, the author was meant to have indicated, suggested the earlier consciousness of “Empire.”  Although, this story appeared later than usual, the uncertainty of the Company’s newer acquisitions still caused formidable fear and loathing.  Nonetheless, our boys were excited for the boat ride, but terrified at the uncertainty of their survival.  They were not urchins, but they were also not quite aristocratic.  Their behaviour seemed to suggest that they belonged more in suburbia, but that anachronism shouldn’t hold us back from our story…..

In a different time, and a newer world with older earth….

It is a lovely sunny day, t-ball practice is underway.  The bright sun warms everyone from the inside out.  It catches people in the eye making their eyes water in a cheerful reminder of the coldness of the winter months.  Green luscious grass compresses and springs back, full with life, as the young children walk towards their t-ball pitch.  The parents walk to the stands and there is no fence for protection.  A subtle sense of fear grips everyone sitting, but the children are so small, what could possibly happen?  I am there, attached to these young boys, but not knowing them.  I recognize them.  I am an observer with no true purpose.  I watch them play, trying to remember just from where it is I know them.  They are not my children, but I feel a historical sense of attachment to them.  The two boys are arguing since separated by team.  I can remember their past, the fight on the ship.

The boys from the ship stare at each other with childhood hatred, a hatred that seems to swell a young persons face to look like a small pug dog with the energy of a Pekinese.  Their faces are alight with the moment of friendship that will soon pull them together in a true equality for the rest of their lives, but as of yet, they are still ready to feel at an advantage.  The purple team is on the field, and it is the yellow team’s turn to bat.  One of our boys is on the purple team in the place of back catcher, and the other boy, on the yellow team, is about to bat.  Over some confusion the boys have a renewed opportunity to engage in the soft battle of youth.  One batter remains ahead of our yellow batter, and while everyone is focused on preparing him to play, our Yellow starts to talk to our Purple.

Yellow feels somehow diminished compared to Purple now, perhaps it is the fear of batting.  But he says to Purple, “I bet you I can find something in this tall grass faster than you can?”

Purple smiles and nods.  They both search and search.  Yellow finds a quarter, Purple finds a one dollar coin.  Feeling dismayed as the game begins again, Yellow watches his team-mate go up to the base to bat.  Beside the home plate is a large metal box, it rests there without any true sense of purpose but as an obstruction.  Yellow’s mate successfully hits the ball and has avoided the metal box.  Yellow walks past Purple, ready to bat.  A sense of apprehension fills the stands as mothers, fathers, and younger siblings sense that it could be this time that a ball or bat comes flying into the audience.  Somehow Yellow exudes a sense of foreboding in a wearying sort of way.  Proudness compels him to prove them wrong.  He walks up to the plate with an appropriate amount of youthful attitude, and swings his bat.

In the confusion he hits the metal box with the brunt of his force.  The metal box booms open and chaos begins.  The ball was knocked to the ground by the smallest tap of the bat, and the purple players are running to find the ball.  Yet the box has opened and a sense of true jovial hilarity filters through the stands.  The chaotic field becomes light-hearted once again.  Yellow, more in tune to showing Purple up than the game, stays at the home-plate smiling.  Like a mole he takes to the ground in search of objects.  First he finds a two-dollar coin, and in an ‘AHA!” he glares mischievously at Purple.  He then finds a pink handkerchief nestled in the ground, and he pulls it out for the laughing crowd to see.  Still behind him the players on the field are running around in a ludicrous chaos that only results in crescendoed laughter.

In the stands I am laughing.  Stomach hurting, eyes watering, mouth singing the lovely tunes of pure enjoyment.  The two boys look at each other and begin to laugh as well.  Soon the game of sides has ended, and parents and children do not feel a divide any longer.  Joy has emancipated the day, and the gleeful sun sparkled as he got the joke too.

The boys never returned to the cold, foggy day on the boat.  It was not a rejection of any paradigm or lifestyle.  It was that they knew in this lifetime they would be friends.  On the ship they would have set sail individually and lived a life that could have been captured magnificently in a tome between leather bounds, but somehow the leather gloves, smiling faces, and their dusty hair seemed to be the only true prize they could have ever wanted.

-fin.