Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tornadoes and fraternizing

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I was at work and in my dream, we were on the 12th floor (in real life it's the 7th).  There are ceiling to floor windows. The wind was picking up I looked out the window, and saw black clouds swirling very fast. The whole sky was dark and in seconds, a tornado was produced. The funnel swirled from the sky to the ground. It was long and narrow, and it was very vivid in my dream. The wind was whistling and I remembered thinking "this doesn't sound like the freight train as people so often describe it." The winds sounded like high pitched whistling. A man who works in my office in real life, Steve, is someone I have a crush on. In my dream, I saw him jump down to the floor with a frightened look on his face as the tornado was right outside our window. He was wearing a light blue button down shirt, and put his hands over his head. I did the same. I was so excited to see a tornado, but then realized we're on the 12th floor and I feared the building would collapse. It went by us without any damage.  I remember saying "I can now cross that off my bucket list. I've always wanted to see a tornado" to one of my coworkers.

I was then walking up stairs in a residence, they had carpet on them.  Steve was sitting on a couch by himself, with a large window behind him. He smiled when he saw me, and asked me to come over. His teeth are perfect and white, his hair very short an always kept nice, light brown in color and blue eyes. He took his shirt off, and exposed his hairy chest. I felt giggly and strangely comfortable with him. He smiled at me throughout the dream. I was sitting on his lap facing him, when my coworker Sandy came upstairs. Steve covered himself with a shirt, and she didn't notice he had taken it off. She asked if I knew whether or not the Christmas tree outside was still standing after the storm. I told her I would go and check.

I walked outside onto a concrete patio, and saw a sting of lights and a pole, but it appeared the tree had been stripped down to nearly nothing.  I turned around and saw lights that were black, looked burned, and were attached to shorter pole going down to the ground as if they previously served a decorative purpose. I came back in and told her what I'd found.  She said she wanted to go back out and see if the video games that were left outside were still there. She said they were clipped to the side of the house. In my mind, I envisioned them to look like green plastic clips holding a video game case when she told me about them.

Steve was yelling something downstairs to another person who asked him a question. I can't remember what he was saying. I just remember him constantly smiling at me, taking his shirt off again and we were holding each other. The person he was yelling to was coming up the stairs, when I woke up.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Car towing and bloody trees

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This was very brief dream I had in the early morning, after I hit the snooze button and fell asleep for about 15 minutes...

 I was staying with a friend and had my car parked in the lot at her apartment. I hadn't left the house in a couple days. When I did leave, I couldn't find my car. There were about 10 cars in the parking lot and the space where I parked mine wss empty. My friend said "your car may have been towed." She said it so nonchalant, I was pissed. I said "what do you mean? You said it was ok to park here." She said "well it's the commuter lot for people who take the train, and if you park here during the week without a permit they will tow it." Now, I'm really angry. I started to yell at her, as I'm thinking about how much money is in my bank account. I said "well how much is THIS going to cost me?" She said "nothing. I will call these 2 guys, they will bring out a lift and they can get it out for us. They will authorize your credit card for $180 but it won't go through and charge."

We walked to the rental office to ask about my car. She no sooner gave the address, when the two women in the office said "oh yes we towed that car." I saw the address handwritten on a piece of paper and they had some paperwork in their hand. Both of the women were wearing glasses, were about 40ish years old with dark hair but I don’t remember seeing their faces. More paperwork was strewn all over both desks. I asked why. One of them turned to my friend and said "she is not allowed to go swimming in our pool either. That car hasn't moved in 2 days and we found egg sacks on the tree branch on your balcony." They showed me a photo of what looked like tree branches, with large white tunnels on it about the size of a sausage. I felt sick looking at it. I envisioned hundreds of spiders coming out of it. She snapped me out of my daze when she said "you two aren't taking care of your apartment and you won't be able to use the same privileges as everyone else." I argued "but I don't even live here! The car hasn't moved in 2 days because I haven't been working."

My friend asked if they were going to charge for the tow. They said "I don't know. You have to concern yourself with getting the infected branches off of your balcony."Then, I was wandering around a hallway at a college dorm. I had just moved in there. I was looking for a guy who I had only recently started talking to, I wanted to ask him for help. When I found him, he seemed excited to see me. He had a short beard, a baseball hat and brown eyes. I didn't get a good look at his face. I asked if he could do me a favor. He said "of course! Anything" he had a wide smile. I started to explain about the branches and said they needed to be cut down. I no sooner finished my sentence, when he said "ok sure no problem." I asked "do you know what you're really getting yourself into here?" He smiled and said "don't worry about it." He asked for the address, and my friend was there with me again. She said it was at Seaton Hall and I saw a picture of it in my mind. I envisioned a three-story building, with white balconies. The vision was in black and white. I said "oh yea" as I remembered where it was, and we started to explain how to get there.

 We were at the apartment, and he was on the balcony holding the tree branches when he asked "do you know what this means? He took one of the branches, bent it in half and blood started to come out. There was an opening on it, that was darker brown than the rest, with blood inside of it. He pointed at it and said "this kind of infection can hurt you and your family." He had a look of great concern on his face. Then, I woke up.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Video store and creamed corn

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I pulled up at a movie store with my ex husband. I told him we should have gone back home first, because I had a buy one, get one free coupon. He said he didn't care, it was only a $2 rental anyway.

We went inside and I was standing at the counter while he looked around. I was waiting to talk to someone about a rental, but the woman was in conversation with a customer. She had blonde hair, kind of a big hairdo like a bouffant, and big glasses. She was sort of interrogating the woman in front of her, she was an older also. The movie case was on the counter and it was very large, like it had 3 vHS tapes in it. The woman behind the counter was asking about the movie, prying her for information about how much she knew about the movie. The customer was stumbling over her words, as if she hadn't watched the movie. The woman stared at her, narrowing her eyes and said "wasn't it interesting when they started going out and the fights they had?" The customer nervously laughed and said "um yea." She was then looking over her shoulder around the store.

The customer walked away and the woman said "so she wanted a refund on the full purchase price, but she didn't even watch the movie or return the popcorn." She rang up $6.42 on the register and laughed, shaking her head. I remember thinking, she still owed the customer a lot of money like another $45.

People were viewing the movies on small TV's that were set up at many stations around the store. It looked like computer stations on desks, all very close together. The desks were light colored wood with a laquer over them, so they were shiny, and they had a curve shape to them like an S.

I was walking through the store trying to find an empty place, but people were everywhere. I found one that was empty, but the desk was turned the wrong way and I couldn't reach the keyboard or monitor.

I found my ex husband in the store watching a movie. I poked him on the side, and he gave me a very angry look. I remembered thinking at that time, "he's so much different than the man I just dated. Why did I go back to him? My friends are going to really let me have it for this decision." My mind was racing about our relationship and all the times we fought. I thought of how it ended and I swore I would never be with him again. I thought about all the times I'd cried over him, as I stood there staring at him watching some movie and ignoring me. I thought I should end all contact with him before we got any further into it.

I started to look at the monitor next to him to watch a movie, but I couldn't remember the movie I wanted to watch. I wanted to see whatever movie the customer was talking about earlier, but I didn't know anything about it or the title. I walked back toward the counter, and found the same employee who interrogated the woman earlier walking by. I stopped her and asked generically if I could get a movie. She said "what movie?" She smiled at me, like I was some stupid girl. I said "you know that movie with that one guy, I can't remember his name. He got together with that woman, I can't remember her name either." She said "what is the name of it?" I said "I can't remember." She asked "what did the cover look like?" I thought it had two people, maybe in a wheat field, but I really wasn't sure. She asked if I wanted to preview something. I said yes.

I went and laid down on a bed that looked like a hospital bed on wheels, but with a big thick foam mattress. The mattress, sheets and the blanket were all cream colored like the wood in the store. I pulled the covers up and put some headphones on to listen.

My cell phone rang. When I looked at the number, I thought it was my ex husband looking for me. I answered it, and it was my friend's father. He was saying in the background to my friend "is it ok if I tell her where we are?" She mumbled something, then he said "we are at a furniture store and she wanted to know if you had to pay for delivery when you bought your bedroom set." I said "I did but they bring the furniture up one flight of stairs and put it together for you. They will even take apart your old set, so you don't have to worry about it." I envisioned the old set she had, and recalled the story she told me of how difficult it was to get it into her room. He was repeating what I said, then he said "but they won't deliver it to the second floor." I clarified "they will, in your house there is only one set of stairs. They will bring it up the one flight of stairs." The woman who worked at the video store was staring at me the movie case in her hand. It looked like she was waiting to talk to me. I started to feel rushed in my conversation. My friend said "well I can hoist it up into my bedroom window." I said "they deliver - aren't you listening to me? You don't have to take it through the window, they carried the boxes into my room and set it up. You would only have to move your current set out of the way." She said "Oh really? I don't think I'm ready for this right now, it's too much work." She seemed irritated and her father was trying to reason with her in the background. I said "I told you they deliver because I thought that would encourage you - not discourage you. I don't think you're understanding what I'm saying to you." She rushed off the phone.

The woman approached me with a video and I realized I hadn't been wearing my clothes anymore. I was naked under the blanket. I hurriedly tried to put them back on, while she was talking. I hoped no one would notice.

I heard my friend Jen's voice calling to me and when I looked over, there was a stairway leading up to another level where a kitchen was. She was putting away dinner she'd made and asked me if I wanted some corn. I said "no thanks" and when I turned back around, I was in her house, in the middle of the living room and laying on the same bed. She came over and said "I knew we shouldn't have made so much, I really don't like creamed corn. My father insisted that I make it because everyone usually eats it all." She was dumping a colander upside down, onto what looked like a bucket on the floor. I wondered why she didn't do that in the sink, then I woke up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The crush

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I had a dream I was at a guy named Kyle's house. In real life, I've always had a wicked infatuation crush on him. There were men  all around drinking and laughing, all of them in jeans and tshirts. I was hanging on Kyle a lot and I couldn't stop smiling. We were looking at and adoring each other. There was no doubt about what was our minds.

He was drinking Jack Daniels. I smelled it and immediately I felt like I was going to vomit. I needed water. I grabbed a plastic cup out of the cabinet and when I tried to fill it, I noticed there were frozen green beans in it. I dumped them in the sink and didn't want anyone to know, so I pushed them into the disposal. I filled the cup while pushing the green beans down and drank some water. They were all laughing and doing shots, raising the glasses to "toast" one another.

I walked back over and said "I used to be able to drink it but now the smell makes me sick." We were all talking, I remember thinking one guy looked familiar but I couldn't remember his name. I hinted to Kyle I wanted to go to his room. He smiled, and his gorgeous face with perfect white teeth reminded me why I always had this crush. We walked up carpeted stairs. He turned on a light and this room was full of plastic partitions with blankets and no pillows. I thought" there's no privacy? You sleep with other people here? No mattresses??" He leaned in to kiss me, we smiled at one another and I said "you're a much different person since you got rid of Candi (his ex)."

He took my hand and led me to a different room that looked like a hostel. It had bunk beds and all of them were made up nicely. He said he had to pay $40 to sleep there. I said I could pay it but I only had a credit card with me, I had no cash. We started to kiss again and a crowd of people flooded into the room. I sat down on a bed and noticed a second later a girl was there behind me. I apologized and went to move, she touched my arm and said it was ok. She had a warm smile and big eyes. I told Kyle I left my purse downstairs and I was worried about leaving it there. I asked the girl if the homeless people would be offended if I went to get it, I didn't want them to think I didn't trust them. She said "oh no not at all, but they would never take anything from your purse."  Then I woke up.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mr. Clinton's legs and Mr. Cantat's toothpick

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I haven't been keeping track of my dreams for a while, but I just thought this recent pair of celebrity cameos was amusing.

In the first, I was working as a personal assistant to Bill Clinton, who was writing his memoirs [didn't he already do that?]. We were sitting and talking about something that needed to be done, and he was complaining about his legs being irritated. He hiked up his suit pants to reveal skinny, pale Old Man legs covered with weird scratches* and equipped with some kind of weird braces possibly meant to hold up his socks.

The second cameo appearance was by a French rock star [who did something terrible in real life that I won't dwell on here]. In the first part of the dream I had been getting ready with some friends for a Halloween party that would take place later that day. I'd been combing through my wardrobe, cobbling together an outfit consisting of vintage items from the 40s through the 60s to go as "an extra from Mad Men", which I saw as a cop-out, but a fun one. I didn't realize what a weird mishmash it was until I woke up; in the dream, I had much more interesting and historically accurate hair (well, historically accurate for the 40s!), and the outfit was going to be tied together with a cute little hat and coral red nail polish.

Anyway, I'd left my preparations to go to an antique store, although not with the purpose of adding to my costume. I was there just to browse, but a group of people caught my attention. There were 5-10 people gathered in a little sitting area in the middle of the store, around a table with lots of drink bottles and glasses. It took me a minute, but I realized that it was a class on cocktail mixing, with an emphasis on imaginative combinations of non-mainstream ingredients. It was being led by a few people, but the big draw was obviously this French rock star, who wasn't teaching so much as he was just mixing things up, imbibing, and commenting vaguely on people's concoctions. He seemed to be getting bored as I stood there observing, and soon just gave up the entire show to a Maggie Smith-like lady who started theorizing about why people were drawn to flavors like carrot cake (sentimental childhood-related reasons, from what I gathered).

I'd been gradually approaching the group because the whole thing was intriguing, and had even sampled one girl's drink, which just tasted like grape juice. Mr. Rock Star seemed to find me interesting for some reason. I fancied that this was because I seemed blase and unimpressed by his status. He started gesturing with his head for us to get out of there, but I stalled by commenting further on the poor girl's grape juice facsimile. I eventually followed him out to a little vestibule that led to the restrooms, where I commented on his large, elaborately carved ivory toothpick (really! and no, I don't think that was some kind of phallic symbol). I restrained myself from commenting sardonically that fancy ivory toothpicks were a nice perk of the trade. For some reason he seemed very interested in spending some time with me (not that kind of time, he seemed more bored and lonely than anything else), but I had to politely brush him off because of the costume party.

What a weird combination of cameos.


*This detail was almost certainly inspired by that gruesome and sad Downton Abbey episode where Bates tries to cure his limp using a metal brace.

Amusement park.. and adoption

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I was at Six Flags. I walked in, and got in line for a roller coaster right away. I remember thinking "no one stopped me at the gate for a ticket." I wasn't going to notify anyone. I was looking up at a roller coaster that was going upside down and a twinge of fear started to creep in. (In real life, roller coasters are not scary to me). I saw it go through the same upside down loop twice and I seemed to be fixated on that. I got on the coaster and strapped myself in. I had my cell phone out, I wanted to take a picture upside down while in the loop. My phone was broken, I felt stressed as I tried to put the battery cover back on and the ride was already moving. I had a tight grip on it, snapped a picture and realized I had the camera facing the wrong way. I remember thinking "that was one of the few pictures of myself that I actually like." I fixed the camera, took a picture and attempted to upload it to Facebook... but the ride was too shaky.

I got off the ride and walked into a room where people had many dogs up for adoption. I was always a cat owner and had reservations about owning a dog, but something drew me to them. One of the dogs seemed to really like me, and I spoke to him while I petted his head. I considered taking him home, when someone said the other dog had been severely abused and was in many different homes already. He just needed a stable place where he could be loved. well, that did it. I was determined to take the dog home. They explained to me that the dog was abused by the previous owner. I walked into another room and saw a dog laying on top of the covers, while a woman was laying beneath them. Her head was sticking out and I saw her eyes looking at me. I asked her "why did you abuse this dog? What's wrong with you?" She didn't answer. I continued to yell at her while she looked at me, expressionless and making no attempt to answer.

I took the dog home and when I walked in, my cat seemed nervous at the sight of him. There was another dog there too, but the abused dog just wanted to go lay in a dark room and be alone. He was frightened.

Then, I woke up.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Moors

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The beginning of this dream is lost. The first thing I remember is dark, cold moors. There isn’t a house around for miles. No lights. I have a job to do, but I don’t want to do it. Oh god, I don’t want to do it. But I have to. If I don’t do what I set out to do, my life will be forfeit.
            I smile in the darkness, even though he can’t see it, and grasp his hand. I hope my grip is steadier than it feels. The smile feels traitorous on my face. He drinks more. Good. He’s drunk. Not drunk enough to stumble and fall. I have to make sure he doesn’t drink that much. He’s bigger than me, so if he goes down, I have to do it the hard way. The mere thought of it sends my stomach pitching and rolling like the hills over which we walk.
            Darkness coats the moors like paint, but I look up and read the thick spray of stars well. I know these moors and I know where I must take him. It’s not far, but the bitter wind slices through to my bones and slows me. Neither of us has a heavy coat, but that doesn’t bother him. Alcohol is his coat.
            I stretch out the hand that’s not connected to his and brush something hard and rough. The tree.
            I tell him that we need to wait a minute, but I don’t let go of his hand. Don’t dare. I can’t lose him in the darkness. I lean against the tree, wrap my free arm around it and press my cheek to its crusty, craggy bark.
            It’s warm.
            I know what it looks like in the light: Gnarled and twisted, dark and blasted. Its limbs do not reach for the sky anymore; they’re arthritic fingers, curled into knobby claws by time and age. It’s shedding its bark; it falls off in musty-mossy chunks. Wind and water and day and night have worn away the ground around its roots. They rise from the earth like the backs of sea serpents. He trips over them and almost falls. My heart leaps into my throat. But he leans on the tree to get up again.
            Don’t touch it,” I almost scream. “It’s not yours!” I screw my mouth shut against the scream pressing against the backs of my teeth.
            Technically it’s not mine either, but I bare my teeth and snarl at him silently. He doesn’t notice. He spilled his beer on the roots of the tree. I want to force his head down and make him lick it off, but there are more important things to get done.
            I don’t want to leave the tree. I draw no comfort from its crumbling existence. Its peeling, pointed bark pierces the bare flesh of my cheek and arm, but I grip it tighter anyway. It is still warm, and that’s what I cling to.
            It’s time to go, I say to myself. You have to. Now.
            I let go of the tree gingerly, feeling like I’ve left my heart impaled on one spiny piece of bark. It’s connected to me only by strings, which spin out like thread on spools as we make our way over the moors.
            It’s downhill now, and I know we’re getting close. I don’t hear it yet, and I hope he won’t hear it until it’s too late.
            There is no moon, which is good and bad. Good because there isn’t enough light for him to read the land and, more importantly, to read me. He’s always been good at that, and I’ve been bad about keeping my heart hidden. Bad because I love the moon. I miss the moon. It anchors my heart. It is my eye, my satellite, my safety, my blanket of light in this always-night.
            He doesn’t notice when I begin to hum. He still holds the empty beer bottle and tips it back from time to time, trying to drink from it. We still hold hands. I try desperately to keep my grip from mimicking the clawed branches of the tree.

                        To my dearest forsaken
                        Who the earth now has taken
                        Empty, the bottle drains no more

A rushing, hushing sound begins to drown out my quiet hums. I’ve been down here dozens of times, but that doesn’t matter. I must be still. Because to most, the sound has no source. It creeps and surrounds, blankets and disorients, makes you scared and dizzy. The very air makes the sound, it seems, and it’s warning you like a rattlesnake.
            But I know better. I know how to find the source of the sound. I close my eyes and remove myself from myself. It used to be a lot more difficult than it is now. I throw my consciousness out wide in front of me like a net and find what I’m looking for. Close. Not even a football field away. Relief and trepidation muscle into my mind and I am sucked back into myself.
            Awareness begins to clear the cloud of drunkenness around him and he asks where we’re going. I squeeze his hand in reassurance, which he seems to accept. We walk. I feel the strings attached to my heart begin to pull. I hum.

                        It is true that I loved you
                        Despite the harm now on you
                        Wash us; the river has you, boy

As we get closer, the sound does not grow or change. It gets colder, though, as we pick our way through the blasted moor grasses, down, down. I glance up. The fog kicked up by the water is separating us from the stars. That’s okay. It’s not them I’m wedded to, not their tiny needlepricks of cold white light. I urge him deeper into the mist.
            We may as well already be underwater. It’s bone-cold and dangerously black. The air, the fog, the sound presses on us like silt on a riverbed. Here is where it gets tricky for me. I don’t know precisely where the drop-off is, so I have to tread like a frightened child, reaching out to test the ground with one foot before I take each step. I tell him not to step ahead of me.
            Even though that would be easier.
            But I still have hold of his hand; if he falls, he’ll grip me tighter instead of letting go.
            I can’t let that happen. I can’t fall with him. I can’t.
            The heartstrings, connected to my heart still at the tree, are nearly taut now.
With my next step I reach out, step on nothing but air. I find the edge of the bank, orient myself along it so that we stand side by side facing the yawning crevasse the river has cut into the flank of the moor.
            Despite how close we are to the roaring rapids, the sound is not deafening. That’s because the water has spent millions of lifetimes carving this never-healing wound; it’s cut so deep into the earth that the sound works so hard to reach us it’s tired and weak when it gets here.
            “It’s warm,” he says.
            It is. The poisonous cold is less here, right at the bank, especially when you lean out over the emptiness. The river ran so deep it must have struck the earth’s vital warmth, which it was now releasing. I look down, even though it’s still too black to see even a hand an inch from my face. The water must be boiling down there.
            I let go of his hand.

                        Here on the eve of too long
                        Where you’ll think I have done wrong
                        Waking in fear of you no more

I am scared. I feel the triphammer-pound of my heart through the strings, which thrum and vibrate and send out a frantic, skittery song.
He is quiet. Still. He’s sober now and beginning to guess why we’re here. I have to do it before he realizes how deeply I violated his trust.
            I have to do it.
            I wonder if he can feel the terror and anticipation baking off me in waves.
            I have to do it.
            I will the soft soil under his feet to suddenly crumble and pitch him into nothingness.
            I have to do it.
            I put my hand on his shoulder.
            If he decides to fight, he’ll win. He’s bigger and stronger than me. What will I do then?
            If I move another inch, the taut strings of my heart will snap.
            I have to do it. Now.
            I take a shuddering, painful breath and push.
            There is a terrible ripping from the center of my chest. The pain is blinding. It tears the breath out of me and I fall back onto the bank coughing and gasping. I clasp the sucking hole in my chest, expecting to plunge my hand into gouts of hot, thick blood, but feel nothing. Not even a hole.
            I feel nothing.
            I lie there for a moment and catch my breath. Gazing up into the stifling blackness, I begin to hum again.

                        To my dearest forsaken
Dearest vow I have broken
Afraid of your angry hands no more
River may help me later
                        Sleeping my lost love for you, boy



Song: "Dearest Forsaken" by Iron and Wine

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The pregnant lady

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In my dream, I am pregnant. I’m not exactly sure how far along I am, but I know that my belly gets in the way of things like steering wheels, tables, other people, and being close to anything.
            Because of this, the outdoor café table at which I sit is far enough away that I have to look up from the book I’m reading to reach for my cup of tea. I notice a man in a suit in the ironwrought chair across from me. His appearance does not stir any emotional response in me at first except for a mild surprise. I immediately understand why.
            This man is the devil.
            He sits straight-backed and still in the chair, one leg cocked and resting on the other. His hair is sleek, slicked, curly and dark. His skin is pale but not noticeably so; the crisp cream-colored suit he wears compliments his strong, sturdy frame nicely.
            The only inhumanity that betrays him is his eyes: they are bright bluewhite, as if his brain were an electrical plant gone AWOL. His face is no face and every face; handsome but indistinguishable. He does not blink. He does not smile.
            I don’t either.
            “Hi,” I say, closing my book.
            “Hi,” he says in a rich, silky purr.
            I know this man well. We’re past small talk.
            He reaches out an unblemished hand and picks up my teacup. He moves with a fluid, unbroken grace that only exists for him. He sips, never taking his wild, lurid eyes off mine.
            Later, as we talk, I realize that there is steam rising from my cup where there wasn’t before. Every so often I check. The tea never cools. I don’t touch the cup again.
            “Your child will have a good singing voice,” he says in his own sweet baritone that nearly drove me out of my mind with need for him. “Your child will have good eyesight and gentle hands. It will grow wise and compassionate. It will love easily and be loved by nearly everyone close to it.”
            “Nearly everyone?” I ask, the answer dangling just out of reach on the hinge of my mind.
            He nods once, slowly. For the first time since he sat down, his eyes stray from me. I look at him now in profile.  As he speaks, I watch with interest the words riding out of his mouth on a heat shimmer so intense it blurs the color of the space behind him into a watery grey.
            “Your child has nothing to prove to you. But you won’t remember that.”
            I cock my head. I am not angry or defensive or even confused. I am curious.
            The baby kicks me high in the ribs once.
            “I would never ask it to prove anything to me. Unless I were teaching it how to argue.”
            The devil sighs. Twin blasts of heat billow out from his flared nostrils. The air distorted by the heat is mesmerizing. There is no breeze in the cool spring morning, but I catch a whiff of burning leaves.
            He returns his face to me, etched in lines of sadness. Those lines look foreign, alien, on the plain white clay of his skin. His eyes spark with something that is not sadness. It is not greed or rage or lust or envy or hunger or pride. It is not human; it is not emotion. All I know is what it is not. His eyes spark and glitter, and the not-knowing is the water that urges the feeling of unease into full, queasy bloom. It is never outright fear, not around him.
            “What do you gain from having this child?” He asks.
            “The knowledge of another part of myself,” I reply.
            The baby kicks me again, this time low.
            The devil stands up, not even a whisper of silk on silk accompanying his movement. It is then that I notice a song playing softly through the speakers on the café’s eaves:

                        Time it took us
                        To where the water was
                        That’s what the water gave me
                        And time goes quicker
                        Between the two of us
                        Oh, my love, don’t forsake me
                        Take what the water gave me

This song would be playing throughout the rest of the dream.
            The devil rests a hand on my shoulder. My eyes trail up the length of his arm. The suit fits him so well there is barely a fold or a ridge. He’s got his eyes on me, those cold-burning blue eyes, those eyes that have seen the firstborn chaos of the universe, those eyes made of entropy. They uncouple me from the hook of reality.
            When I surface from the moorless depths of disassociation, I am sitting at the edge of a large lake at dusk. I breathe in the dimness, but my lungs cannot expand.
            Partially because the darkness is thick and sticky and it coats my lungs like tar. Partially because the baby has grown so big that it presses against my diaphragm. I cough, but it does no good.
            Darkness drops fully like water from a bucket and I look for the source of my unease.  To calm myself, I begin humming under my breath.

                        Lay me down
                        Let the only sound be the overflow
                        Pockets full of stones
                        Lay me down
                        Let the only sound be the overflow

It’s a struggle to stand. I keep stepping on the gauzy, flowing dress I find myself in. It feels wonderful against my skin, but it’s little comfort. With the smell of rotting lake all around me and cold mud sucking at my knees and feet, I am immobilized by the mire in my mind.
            The moon is broken and sickly, gives off a drunken yellow light that does not illuminate but confuses. I grab at something near me upon which the light sizzles like sluggish oil. It’s an oar.  I pry myself out of the swamp by clawing up its length. My legs are rubbery and uncooperative, so I stand swaying for a moment, resting a hand on my belly and feeling the mud squelch up between my bare toes.
            I can’t catch my breath. But years of dealing with asthma have taught me not to panic and gasp, so I don’t.
            In, out, in, out, in, out.
            There are soft voices behind me. Familiar familial voices.
            Oh no.
            The thought sparks in my head and lights a flame of fear. I know what this means. When I dream of water, I dream of drowning.
            There is a log cabin set several dozen feet back from the lake. Lights burn fitfully in the windows, casting shadows that leap like rabid things over the walls. The voices inside are risen in song. I open the screen door and the flickering candlelight flays me. I cringe and squint and am assaulted by life, foaming at the mouth. My family, extended, adopted, all, is crammed into the cabin. They are exuberant, they are wild, they are loud and completely unlike themselves. They dance as if there is nothing left for them in the world. There is gravity here, and it grabs at my chest, wanting me.
            Hey!” I scream into the light, the heat, the rush, the motion, the oppressing life. “The water is rising! You have to get out! Get out! Get out!”
            I lean as far in as my arms will let me, my hands holding onto the outside edge of the doorframe for dear life. For a moment, the terror of getting lost in the press of bodies overwhelms the sick, sinking knowledge of the water behind me.
            Nobody hears me. Suddenly, my feet are cold. I jump and look down. Water, ankle deep. Moonlight slathers itself on the little lapping ripples like rancid butter. Still gripping the doorframe with both hands, I twist my neck as far as it will go. The grass is gone. The gravel path from the lake to the house is gone. The creeping fingers of the lake have taken it all. The darkness, I realize then, did not grow down from the sky. It grew up from the water like vines and infected the world. The smell of decay, of murky, evil water, gets thicker. I feel it trickling into the hollow spaces in me, filling me, making me feel heavy and awkward.
            I hear singing in my head:

 They took your loved ones
But returned them in exchange for you
But would you have it any other way?
Would you have it any other way?
You couldn't have it any other way

I rend myself from the doorframe of the cabin and shut the door against the painful light inside, against the rising liquid darkness outside. I pray that my family is safe from the water inside the cabin. I hope that the energy they create will be enough to fight the water back. I cannot help them now.
            The water is knee-deep. My dress is no longer gauzy and light but floppy and sloppy. I slog back toward where the bank of the lake used to be. My leg bumps something. I reach down into the freezing black, curving my back so that my chest doesn’t touch the surface, and pull up the oar I used to help me stand. The water drips off the oar onto my arm and it’s not water but a condensation, a concentration, of the darkness. It leaves oily trails on my arm.
            There is a small wooden canoe to match the oar, but it’s way out on the lake. Yards away. To reach it, I’d have to swim.
            I lay my hand on my belly. The baby has been quiet for a long time. I worry for it. Will my heat be enough to keep it alive in the impossible cold of the water? Will the weight of it, plus the weight of the darkness in my lungs and the weight of the dress drag me to the bottom?
                                   
Lay me down
Let the only sound be the overflow
Pockets full of stones
Lay me down
Let the only sound be the overflow

The water reaches lustfully for my hips. As I wade toward the canoe, I keep an ear trained back toward the cabin. The terrible cold rips the breath from my lungs. It swallows my belly. The baby does not kick. The water licks my neck. I fight the air for breath.
            In, out, in, out, in, out.
            Kick.
            I kick.
            I’ve lost the bottom; I float now, kicking to keep my head above the grabby little waves. Soon, my legs disappear into the numbing black. So I wave my arms and, despite what I’d feared the most, I reach the canoe. The devil is sitting in it. I know it’s him because his eyes slice through the darkness like knives made of electricity. They seem to scream at me. He sings:

Oh, poor Atlas
The world’s a beast of a burden
You’ve been holding on a long time
And all this longing
And the ships are left to rust
That’s what the water gave us

            I know better than to reach out a hand to him. I cling to the side of the canoe. I am past cold, past shivering, and I know that if I don’t get out of the water, both the baby and I will die.
            “You remind me of Ophelia in that dress,” the devil says. “Or the Lady of Shalott.”
            “The Lady of Shalott didn’t drown,” I say.
            “I’ll write your name round about the prow,” says the devil. “Then you can sing me your last song.”
            With some untouchable force that is brother to the darkness, the devil pries my frozen hands from the edge of the canoe. I swallow my panic, force it down into my gut to warm me, give me buoyancy, buy me time.
            The sick yellow-grey moonlight wanes. Only the high edges of things are lit, and even then they aren’t lit but painted with light. It drips from the tops of the trees and falls thickly onto the devil’s shoulders and head. He chuckles deeply as he carves my name into the inside of the canoe. That chuckle finishes what the water started; it crawls into my ears and piles up at the base of my brain, sinking me.
            I sing with the last breath I have:

She’s a cruel mistress
And a bargain must be made
But oh, my love, don’t forget me
I let the water take me

It’s peaceful in the deep.
The arms of the water are no longer crushing. They welcome now; they curl around me protectively as I curl around my belly. The fingers of the water no longer grope and want; they soothe me and smooth my hair and my dress.
            I rest in the black sanctuary. Now that I don’t have the sound of the devil or the cabin in my ears, I can hear the singing:

Lay me down
Let the only sound be the overflow
Pockets full of stones
Lay me down
Let the only sound be the overflow

            It seems to take hours to lift my head far enough to look up at the surface. The last bit of moonlight is fractured by the waves and sluggish fragments float down at me.  They never reach me because I’m sinking.
            I look forward to reaching the bottom. I’ll finally have somewhere still and quiet to rest my head.  
Is this what it feels like to give up? I ask myself.
            The baby kicks once, hard.



(Song: What The Water Gave Me by Florence + The Machine