Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Had a Dream Once. It Was Scary.

My dreams have been so vivid lately! My fiction writing is lacking, but I want to really convey the weirdness and vividness of this dream, so allow me to try. It was so fun to write a "serious" piece about such a ridiculous and funny dream.

As bedtime approached, Ellie, my two-year-old, and I settled into the recliner in the living room, under the warm glow of a reading lamp, to read a few stories before the usual nighttime routine began. The anticipation of the chaos that would surely ensue twisted an anxiety-driven knot in the center of my belly. I focused my breathing, to loosen the knot, and began reading.

“In the great green room. There was a telephone. And a red balloon. And a picture of.”

Ellie twirled her hair and shifted restlessly in my arms. “What’s dat noise, Mama?” she asked. I couldn’t hear it at first, not until my eyes met hers and our brains melded into one functioning being. Then I heard it, a loud grinding noise, like a power-saw. “The neighbors are probably sawing,” I guessed.

Our chair sat in front of the laundry-closet doors, now propped open to reveal the washing machine and dryer. On the other side of the closet wall was an apartment that mirrored our own, and behind that wall, between the two apartments, the grinding got louder.

Ellie covered her ears as the grinding grew and became a rumble. Then, the rumble was loud enough to breach the wall, and a metallic sawing noise merged with the grinding and rumble. The clothes dryer began to shake, and the door slowly swung open.

The dryer then slowly gave birth to a human head, that of our neighbor, Bucko. He was pale, had two gashes over his right eyebrow, and he shook, as the dryer delivered his body. I set Ellie aside and cradled Bucko’s head as his body shook. His black t-shirt was dusty and ripped.

“What happened?” I asked Bucko, as my husband, Mark, came into the living room to witness the miraculous dryer birth.

It took Bucko awhile to catch his breath, but he finally uttered with a gasp, “My wife has been… murdered. This was the only means of escape.”

Mark knelt beside me, as we helped Bucko sit up, and he explained further, “A man broke into our apartment. There was a struggle, and my wife, she just collapsed…” His face revealed little emotion, though I almost thought I saw his right eye brim with one lonely tear. I wondered if he was in shock.

A knock on our door prevented my next thought. “Police! Open up!”

Mark opened the door, and a uniformed officer rushed in. His eyes moved from us, down to Bucko’s defeated body on the floor.

The officer moved swiftly toward Bucko and forcefully pushed his neck to the floor. He was quickly in handcuffs, being read his rights. Then, he was lead outside to a police car.

I stared at our open door, trying to process everything we had just witnessed. I turned back to give Mark a quizzical look, but instead came face to face with Bucko's wife. Though, she looked as solid as any live person, I knew she was only an apparition. She reached out to me, but I couldn't feel her touch. She yelled to me, trying to explain, but no sound passed her lips.

She was covered in scrapes, bruises, and a V-shaped burn above her left eye, and she frantically tried to convey what had happened to her -- her arms and legs flailing as she demonstrated the punches, kicks, and stabs she had endured. She mouthed Bucko's name repeatedly, as a V-shaped hair straightener appeared in her hands, and she held it over her forehead to explain the matching shape of the burn.

She disappeared, morning came, and I stepped to the window to soak in a small amount of warmth from the January sun, as it rose over the brown, barren mountains. Behind me, the apartment was dark and cold. I cradled a mug of coffee in my hands. Before I turned away, I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching. I leaned closer to the glass and saw Bucko's white pickup truck coming up the driveway. He parked in front of our building, and jumped out angrily. Though the temperature was below freezing, he wore only jeans and a navy blue t-shirt as he stormed up the porch steps.

Apparently, this incident, which physically bridged our apartments, made him feel at home enough to burst through our front door. He started pacing and swinging his arms. Mark emerged from our bedroom, and we exchanged confused glances.

"Listen," I said calmly, "Why don't you sit down? We'll talk this out." I put my hand on Bucko's shoulder which seemed to ground him. He planted himself in our recliner and tried to breathe normally. Mark sat down on the couch, across from him. I brought Bucko a cup of coffee and tried to gather more information.

Though I tried to sound objective to his situation, the conversation twisted and turned, questions and answers swiveled side by side, and the spiritual confession of Bucko's wife echoed behind my words, only a thin veil separating her voice and my own.

He looked up suddenly, locked eyes on me, tilted his head sideways, and studied each expression that came across my face. He knew. Knew that I suspected.

I inadvertently looked down at my hands to break the connection. Then to his hands. Scraped, scratched, scabbed, a half-V burn. He tucked his hands under his legs, and when I met his gaze again, it had changed. Cold anger and nothing more. Not one tiny hint of empathy, compassion. No tears for his wife.

"Bucko, you seem angry but otherwise unfazed by the fact that your wife was murdered yesterday," I said.

"I just don't show my emotions well. I'm trying to keep it together," he explained. Then, he quickly stood and left. I locked the door behind him, though the clothes-dryer entrance was still an option. I closed the dryer door.


I lifted and tightly tied the hood of my ski jacket as I walked down the busy city sidewalk toward a 20-story office building. As in most my dreams with office buildings, I walk through a side door and into a dimly-lit hallway littered with small pieces of paper, gum wrappers, cigarette butts, and homeless people. I have to navigate my way through the crowd, explaining to each person why I'm there and how I don't judge them for the choices they have made but, that ultimately, I'm in a hurry to get to an important destination, to tend to a time-sensitive matter.

Mark and I hold hands as we walk into a closet-sized courtroom and separate to sit next to each other in classroom-like chairs with desks attached. We testify for the prosecution and listen to others' testimonies. We hear the defense's argument, and evidence is presented. I momentarily question Bucko's involvement in the murder of his wife. Could the scrapes on his hands have been defense wounds from an unknown intruder, wielding a sharp object and scalding-hot hair straightener?

I look down at a weathered, wood floor for my answer, and I see droplets of blood dripping next to my desk. Three identical bright red droplets. I look left to the floorboards beneath the window, and bright red blood begins seeping from the cracks and oozing into the room. I lift my feet as it circles around the legs of my chair and slowly fills the room.


This is just one more reason to stop my late-night Nutella-eating, crime-TV-watching binges.

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