[Written 2/15; 12:22]: I’m on a bit of a clock at this time – I have just showered to prepare myself for a massage, for which I must leave in about an hour.
While I showered, I thought of my restless sleep and various unsettling dreams from last night. There was one in particular which shook me to a point where I no longer felt it was safe to continue dreaming.
It was clearly some version of my trauma presenting itself in a way only I could understand; but it felt as though maybe it was a bit more than that.
It appeared to be set in the future – because in this dream world, we had everything of which we had ever dreamed. We were happy, and we worked hard every day to reach and maintain this feeling.
We owned and ran a quaint café on the corner of a lonely street, where the walls were exposed with bricks, and we had a garage door which led to the outdoor seating. And last but not least, the kitchen was stocked with the appliances most esteemed.
On this day, there, outside sat a group of police officers who were regulars, as we were most famous for our coffee and pastries, for those who were looking for a taste of something different. They always sat at the largest table, right by the curb, overlooking the streets. And yet, not a single second did I imagine that it might be bad for business, given the political suffering. Because everyone who would come to have our sweets was familiar with the loving environment we used to breed.
Each passing school year as flocks of new college students explored themselves in this city, I would find that a majority of the time, it was the misfits who were always drawn to our café – and those were the ones we knew by name. We watched them grow and change in their four years of loyal patronage.
Some would come back to us alone or with partners or friends alike and they’d tell us that we were the first stop of their visit. I would call my partner over in great excitement, and they would say they’d be remiss if their guest did not have the chance to meet the people who helped shape them, for the better.
They often called us their “college parents,” and they’d explain that we had made our marks on their lives by giving them much helpful, genuine advice.
We would stand by and wait for them to finish, so that we could return the affection they were giving, tenfold. And we would be so elated that we would not simply shake their hands but embrace them as family as best as we can. This was the beauty of the place.
It was understood mutually and among all who came, that the moment you stepped into the café: you were a human, and you had a life of your own, with its own dips and triumphs. Its own sorrows and worries. And whatever goals you set out for were encouraged, and you would be surrounded by individuals who believed in the humility of connections amongst people, with feelings.
This also went for our cadre of local partners, each of whom was a trusted friend and compatriot. These relationships were not built of bureaucracy or policies. They were built on gentle strings between kind individuals who paid no attention to the monetary values of their transactions or other extravagant themes. It was simply a pleasure to have the opportunity to spend the little time we had together.
This was the dream we lived in. And for a few moments, I was happy as we were sweating and bustling to prepare our guests’ orders. And in the kitchen with my hairnet, I wiped a bit of flour from my gaze when I heard a knock and opened the door to a familiar face delivering some packages.
He was familiar not because I knew him in this other life, but because his face was a worn-down version of a Shane I used to know in high school. I had not thought about him in ages and yet he crept his way into my dreams, and naturally, I assumed there must be a significance to this.
So, I welcomed Shane inside and pointed to where it was safe to place the packages near the freezer, where he caught wind of the cold and shivered to himself. All the while, I made a note to self that he seemed tense, more so than usual, and I could not understand what was wrong in that he avoided all eye contact with not just me but everything.
That was, until my dream revealed that the packages were filled with illicit things.
As he left to get the remainder of the boxes, I followed him out through the garage opening and down the path next to where his van was parked in the street.
And we both stood with our eyes locked, not saying a single thing. Mine begged him to lay down his metaphorical sword, for we were speaking in metaphorical words.
But before I was able to utter a sound, he broke the silence by summoning the deepest inhale, sounding as if it burnt as it went down. He took in this air, allowing his expression to change to one of regret as he moved his head back and forth in preparation to exhale his words: “I’m sorry.” Then, drawing his gun as I took the aimed bullets straight through my chest, all in an instant.
I knew I felt the bullets sting in my dream because my physical body became so tense as it wove into the mind of the body which had just fallen backwards on the sidewalk, where I had also hit my head. The taste of metal filled my tongue as the blood rid itself of me from many directions. Then, all the screams and chatter erupted as quickly as they dissipated until I heard only the ringing pitch of approaching my death.
No doubt my loyal police officers would come to my aid and detain this man to stop whatever else he had planned. But I knew it was too late. Because I quickly realized that by shooting me, he believed he was preventing the danger that I had created.
I knew it was too late because I had long before felt this feeling of my life’s force being pulled from my body in its entirety. First, the seconds slow and I have all the time in the world to reflect on my life and this world. And then, the force jets off so quickly as if breaking the atmospheric barrier – and then suddenly – I am jolted awake – processing the fact that I am still “alive” in my bed.
And so after this, of course I could not return to sleep and stared at the ceiling for a while, until the calm of silence took me back to the dream realm.
*Thank you, once again for bearing with the timing of these posts due to my limited abilities while typing up these entries (and please continue to excuse any typos you might see).
To anyone who might read this story – please check out the wonderful and entertaining Dead to the World Podcast – Episode “Naptime Stories x 7” where the lovely hosts were kind (and brave) enough to read the story in its entirety and do a deep-dive interpretation of this dream (which, I will add, was entirely spot-on based on the changes happening in my life at this moment in time).
They also covered my other dream post: “Instance – Anachronist Dream” in the same episode.
*Any writing, ideas and art (or images thereof) you find in this post or on the site were created by Ahka Rhash ©