This morning, I awoke from a light slumber, having had a dream that felt as real as you and I; more significant than anything one could learn at school or hear at church – more consequential than any spoken or unspoken laws in the book.
I tell this story through the voice and eyes of the woman in my dream, just as I recall my feet in her shoes, my head on her pillow, and my mind in her body. —
I lived somewhere in England – a small village community just outside of Sussex, where we all had to do our part to keep the land grazing and the water running. I know not what the era was – perhaps I was a petty farmer during a time when men wore monocles, flaunted their canes, and tipped their top hats at pretty, elegant ladies; but certainly not to the likes of me.
As the days passed, I would notice an annoyance during moments while I was only with myself. Whether I was hanging clothes on a line, sifting water from the well, or taking a rest from our gatherings in the plains painted with grass – I would find tiny, little things around my wrists and my ankles. Things resembling stinkbugs, but their size was closer to that of a matchstick head.
I realized they were there after a long while, and only when they had left their marks on my skin as it began to itch and crawl. Naturally, I panicked – at first I felt ashamed at why these creatures would pick me to serve as their host. What was it about my extremities which attracted them so? At last, I put my ego aside, for I could manage this infliction no more, and I showed these scars to my community. I met no such luck in finding someone who could attribute any meaning to them. And I remained helpless with no cure to remedy them.
It was my turn, then, to go into town for supplies. The bugs did not bother in my distracted state as I took in the beauty of my scenic route, eagerly awaiting for the city’s energy to tantalize my senses which had grown exceedingly dull over time.
When I arrived, I walked around aimlessly for a while as if I were searching for a hidden message to transform this world of mine. And then, in the distance, my eye caught sight of a man. His stature resembled that of the sculpture standing beside him, surrounded by green pasture, in the middle of the city square. With him, he had an obscure sign I was unable read but could only assume indicated that he was a counselor of some kind.
The man’s physical appearance evoked a pleasant sense of comfort from my soul, the possession of which I remained blissfully unaware in this body or otherwise.
He wielded the sort of kind eyes that beamed in perpetuity; ones I could admire at the surface, but would still remind me of the oceans resting beneath them. And when they smiled in my direction, I could feel their tides drawing me in closer to him.
His lips – soft, rounded, and peachy so as to express that whatever should come out of them would be unthreatening. And yet, I do not recall the nature of his teeth.
On his hands: some fine black leather gloves ending right above his wrists to convey that despite the filth of the city, his touch was pure. The final feature of note I could gather was his nose: standing in such a way that could never make one feel as though she were below it.
The man had a familiarity, or a closeness, that I cannot describe with the words at my disposal. It was as though he was the brother I always painted in my mind but never had the pleasure of meeting – boasting my mother’s kind eyes and my father’s wisdom.
In this moment, consisting of many moments which seemed to defy our very laws of time, I understand not what came over me. His warm, inviting aura pulled me in, little by little, until I found myself bearing my rashed wrists before him; my eyes silently pleading for his guidance to shed some light on my grievous wounds.
With not so much as a hello or an introduction – for he needed not an introduction – he looked at the ground and paused as if he were trying to find the right words to express his intent. He chuckled to himself, as if this were a simple problem with an even simpler solution.
Then he let out a breath and started: “Bugs are a bit tricky” – speaking in a tongue unfamiliar to me but so familiar all the same – “They only appear… when you are unhappy about having to do something you’ve been told to do.”
I responded, “told to do? by whom?” I was not sure I understood his words. “And, what? — you mean to imply that these rashes and the critters that caused them are only a figment of my imagination?”
To which he quickly responded, “aren’t we all?” – never breaking eye contact but holding his gloves in the air.
He held a brief pause to allow his words to sink into me as I ruminated on what he could have possibly meant. I looked at his hands, I looked around at the square, I looked to the ground and my feet and into myself, but, I could not stand to look into his eyes for more than one second at a time.
“But!” he began to explain, “You see, the feelings are very real, and your marks are simply a manifestation of those feelings.”
“This is the way in which your spirit chooses to symbolize those annoyances. These representations are unique to each person – and the method with which we choose to convey our deepest emotions to ourselves doesn’t make the sentiments any less real. If anything… it makes them all the more real. You must find the beauty in the notion that you’re communicating with yourself at a level of awareness unknown to your conscious mind.”
He paused again to give me more time. I continued to linger, picking at my callused fingertips, with my hurried eyes pacing across the setting before me as I combed through his words.
His persistent gaze made me uncomfortable but still grounded me all the same.
“This is the case even more so if we aren’t really listening to these messages. I can feel that you’re nervous and anxious.” He threw me a gentle look to imply that I needn’t be. “You need only peer inward to learn the art of comprehension, and only then will you rid yourself of these and any other nuisance.”
I nodded slowly, bopping and weaving as the puzzle pieces spewed scattered from my brain and then, they fell into place right in front of our eyes through the chaos that consumed my mind in that moment. In a way, I understood him, but I had more questions.
Before I could ask any more of the thoughts resting dormant inside me… before I could ask who he was and why he felt so familiar, why he knew the things he did, and why he was able to interpret my reality better than I… Before I could ask him his name, why he was here, or where I might find him should I need additional guidance – we were interrupted.
We were approached by a passerby – a Scot, no doubt I assumed by the looks of his getup – his nose so red that its presence was blinding, and one could hear the strength of its sirens wailing as he carried himself over to us with the heavy weight of his bearings.
He leaned forward, with such condemnation coating his tongue: “Oy – it’s you!” He screamed for all to hear as if he was provoked by this man’s very existence, “Why don’t you get off our streets and back to where ye came from!” – He let out an irate spit on the man’s sign and charged away, waving down a guard to rid the square of him. It did not seem he minded me at the very least, in fact, I am not quite sure if he was even aware of my presence.
But I could not understand the anger – did he not see what I was saw? I wanted nothing more to defend this great Man, but no words came – not that anyone would want to hear them in this day and age.
I glanced back and forth at them both, stuck, with my feet trapped firmly in the quicksand that appeared below me. And I felt myself sinking along with the final few sands of time, indicating that our hour had passed.
The Man was unfazed by the Scot’s presence but indicated that he too, had run out of time as he turned to me and yielded, “I guess my reputation precedes me.” He recognized my struggling and asked, “Don’t you know that you shouldn’t fight it? – the quicksand, I mean. Don’t forget this next time.”
I could not understand what any of that meant – but I cared not about his reputation or his past up until the moment we met – for, I felt as though he held the answers I had been searching for, for a long long time.
Before I knew it, in the blink of an eye, he was gone – as was the sand below me. With not so much as a name I could grasp onto, he slipped out of my hands as quickly as he entered them.
I took these ideas home with me and kept this wealth of knowledge in my pocket, for I cannot fathom that a day might come when his words do not ring in my ears.
If one Instance in the future, I am to earn freedom outside these reclusive walls which line the edges of our world, I hope that I may find the state of solitude in which he resides – so that I may meet him once more, wherever that may be.
The stillness in his indifference in the wake of our social experiences and his soothing omnipotence – I cling to them. It is everything I hope to discover within myself so that I might one day pass down these newfound insights to the next person who is so hopelessly searching for answers in our busy streets. And I wish for the ability to do so with a likened elegance, of my mother’s kind eyes and my father’s wisdom.
*This Instance is a firsthand account of my experience as this woman in my dream. I wrote everything down the moment I woke up — This story is only as fictional as the abilities of my subconscious to imagine me as another person in a vastly different reality. Although I remembered the dialogue quite vividly, I admittedly had to fill in some gaps to convey the overall sense of the man’s messages.
To anyone who might read this story – please check out the 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: “Concussion RefleXIons: Day II Pt. I” in the same episode.
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