Written September 19, 1995/September 21, 1995
You wake up swaddled in the blanched sheets of a hospital bed. The light is unnatural and disorienting, but gradually you focus and the room becomes clearer. Jon must have fallen asleep because he is there snoring away on a chair. You reach for a glass of water next to your bed, and the movement makes him stir.
“Hey there,” he says, as he stretches away his yawns.
“I had a dream.” you say in reply. “I knew I was dreaming though, so I woke up.” The dream fades for a moment and then comes back. “It was vivid, and horrendous. If I didn’t know it was a dream, I would swear it was real even if it weren’t so unrealistic.”
“What kind of dream was it? Did you dream about flying, or going to school in your underwear? Or was it one of those dreams where you dream you are going to the bathroom, but wake up peeing in your sister’s closet?” He asks. He is sincere too; Jon is funny that way.
“To be honest,” you reply, “I’ve never had those kinds of dreams. Usually, I can’t even remember my dreams, except, of course, that dream I have about losing my teeth. You know, kind of like when you lose your baby ones; How the saliva in the socket makes kind of a seal on the loose tooth, as if the tooth is held on by suction or something. Then, when you hold it with your fingers and wriggle it a bit, it comes out with that sucking sensation. It really freaks me out because, in my dream, I know its not my baby teeth, but my adult ones.”
“That’s pretty gross.” Jon says.
“Yeah well I can’t help it, its just a dream I have.”
“Did you have that dream again?” He asks.
“No,” you say. “I dreamt we were driving on a dirt road right outside of town. We were going pretty fast, when all of the sudden, we weren’t on a dirt road anymore; We were in the city for some reason, and I am looking at us as an observer instead of being in me.”
“I do that sometimes.” Jon says. “The dream shift, I mean.” I had this dream once, where I was a kid again. I was maybe six or seven, I don’t know, small enough, at least, to have trouble reaching the coin slot on the vending machine.
“I’m on the way home with a big bag of groceries, when I stop at this vending machine on the side of the road to buy an ice cream sandwich. Remember those? They are always so much better out of the machine. When you get them in the store, they aren’t frozen enough, and just don’t seem to taste as good.
“Anyway, I jump up and get my quarter into the slot. I get this ice cream in the shape of a cartoon character. Makes no sense, I know, but hey, it was just a dream.
“Just as I am about to take a bite though, a bunch of older boys show up and start picking on me. I start to cry, but it just makes them meaner. They push me and shove me and knock me into the dirt. I lose my ice cream sandwich.
“Then it happens. I hear a shout, and when I look up, I see in the distance, an older version of me coming to save me. Just as he gets to me though, my point of view shifts and I am me running in to save my six-year old self from the bullies. After I chase the kids away, and give myself another quarter, I stoop down to talk to him. I want to tell him a lot of things, but just as I start, I wake up. I even tried going back to sleep, but even when I did, I couldn’t go back to the dream, which is too bad, because I would have like to tell myself a lot of things.”
“I wonder what it means,” you say.
“I don’t know,” he muses. “Maybe its that I’m still that scared little kid inside.”
“Hardly,” you say. “I can’t see you ever being scared in your life. I think when you save yourself in a dream it means you’ve resolved something in your life, or you’ve grown, or been enlightened or something.”
Jon rolls his eyes at you.
“It could be,” you defend.
“Anyway,” he says. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you. What was it you were saying?”
“Oh, it was nothing.” you say.
“Come on, don’t do that, I hate it when you do that. You were talking about your dream, we were driving in the city,” he prompts.
“Yeah, we’re driving in the city, when I get this feeling like we’ve done this before, even though we haven’t,” you say.
“How do you mean?” Jon asks. “Like you’ve dreamed it before? A recurring dream?”
“No, I don’t think so,” you say. “It was more like a dream memory, or a memory in a dream. Am I making any sense? In the dream, I remember being on the street before, even though now that I’m awake, I know that we haven’t. Its weird, I don’t know.
“Anyway, I have this dream memory that we’ve driven on this street before, when I have this premonition that there is a pedestrian crossing the road ahead of us.
“I yell at you to watch out even before we come upon him, but you don’t turn until it is almost too late. You swerve and we careen…”
You don’t get the chance to tell him that you dreamt that we crashed and that he died in your arms, because, all of the sudden, he grabs you by the shoulders and starts shaking you.
“What’s wrong?” you ask.
He calls your name over and over again.
“What is it? What is it?” you cry, very nervous now.
Jon slams his hand down on the nurse’s call button and you notice the monitor next to your head is flashing maniacally distantly. You can hear an alarm going off.
You feel something on your face and raise your hand to touch it. There is blood on your fingers when you pull them away. You feel about yourself and find blood everywhere. Your mattress feels wet, like it does after a terrible fever.
There is a roaring in your ears, and then everything goes mute. You know that Jon and the nurses are talking to you and you know, somehow, that the alarm is still ringing, but you can’t seem to hear them, or simply you don’t hear them.
It’s unbearably quiet. Jon is still calling to you, but you don’t seem to be there. You’re there, but you’re somehow detached. They put an IV into you but you don’t feel that either. Your head throbs, but strangely you feel good, very peaceful. You feel so good, in fact, that you get up. As you leave the room, you turn back and see them still working frantically at your body. You turn away and walk towards a light. Everything gets brighter and clearer. The light gets so bright that it blinds you.
When you wake, you feel nauseous. Your bed is soaked in sweat, and your bed aches. Jon is no longer there, so you get out of bed and stumble into the hall. You feel dizzy and achy. You look down at yourself and find that you are naked, and pale, unnaturally white. You are a ghost haunting the empty halls of the hospital. The pain is terrible. Its agony and unbearable. You think about suffering like this for all eternity and balk. You don’t want to be like this forever; you’d rather be dead than be a ghost, you think. In that moment of irrationality, though, you realize that you are dreaming, but somehow that knowledge doesn’t seem to matter or deter you.
You want to die. You look about for something to cut yourself with. You can’t seem to find a knife or a razor, but you do find a cafeteria glass. The glass shatters when you drop it. You pick up a shard and begin to saw at your wrists. Absently, you remember to cut lengthwise instead of widthwise. You draw blood and feel the pain. As you bleed, you start crying uncontrollably, and you want to see your parents before you die.
You make your way to the darkened waiting room where your parents have fallen asleep on the couches. You enter, and your dad wakes suddenly. He looks at you with horror on his face and bolts upright. Your mother screams.
“What are you doing!?” he cries and wakes you.
An orderly turns on the lights and rushes in to help. You’re still crying. A nurse arrives and tries to calm you. You resist, and try to get away. Blood is getting everywhere. More people arrive and grab hold of you. You struggle, but they hold you down. A gurney appears out of nowhere and they bind you to it. You call for Jon to help you, but he doesn’t come. A doctor produces a syringe and jabs you in the arm with it. You struggle, but your arms feel heavy. You try to scream, but you can’t. As you sink into darkness, you hear the nurse comment that it is sad that I can’t accept Jon’s death and that such tragedies shouldn’t have to happen.
Just before you lose consciousness though, you realize that it is true, Jon is dead. You try to cry, but the blackness comes and takes you away.