Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Dream House

8/13/2014- My Dream House

I remember commenting on the Dream House's lawn the first time we saw the house, how perfect and lush it was, so much that it bordered on absurdity that we should have such a well maintained plot of green in the middle of another drought. My husband was sold before we ever reached the doorstep, proclaiming that the house actually had a picket fence- I thought it was adorable that he was infatuated with such a traditionally feminine detail as I made plans to tend to the lawn every other weekend. He insisted on carrying me over the threshold. I objected at first, but there was a sorcery about the house that had us both feeling a little euphoric. From somewhere, he summoned the strength to lift me up into the air and through the doorway, even though he had thrown his back out only a week earlier bringing in two jugs of milk when he insisted against my reasonable suggestion that he should carry them with two hand instead of one. I'll never forget the view of floating into the living room from his arms. I think about it, replaying the image every time I walk through the doorway of my own accord.

That was nearly ten years ago. Now I'm starting to wonder about our Dream House. It fits our family perfectly and I'm shocked that it took me so long to realize, but I haven't had a single dream since we moved in- none that I can remember anyways. Every now and again, I have a nightmare or I watch as what may have been an ordinary dream turns sour and spoils in front of me, taking a dark turn. It was one such remembering that led me to believe that I might be living in a house that feeds on dreams... spitting out nightmares because they taste as bad as they do to humans. The thought was played in my head like a half joke, but once I had heard the sound of it, something rang sisterly true. It like... I know it seems like an absurd thought... but these walls are breathing. If I'm quiet I can hear it. I've grown attuned to the creaks and the rattles. I can call them out like the rhythmic exhalations of a giant bear in hibernation. The groan of a misstep on one of the house's major arteries... I can almost see the shell of the place grimace against the footstep. I find myself avoiding those spots against reason. Why should a giant care about the screaming of ants beneath their heel? And then it came to me, "I am the ant, and I am trying desperately not to wake the giant."

It's a perfect crime, dream thieving. It took me almost ten years to suspect anything was missing, but then I thought about all of the things that dreams bring into flowering. Dreams are inspiration. Dreams are spontaneity, excitement, adventure and passion. At first I believed that my house ran like clockwork out of necessity. We have two children and I am all of the time chasing them towards the next objective, "Hurry up because breakfast. Hurry up because school. Hurry up because homework. Hurry up because dinner. Hurry up because bedtime." I feel as though I am chasing them down a hallway that I know dead ends into nothing, and I chase myself in this same way. "Hurry up Marlene because shower. Hurry up Marlene because work. Hurry up Marlene because get the kids. Hurry up Marlene because grocery shopping. Because laundry. Because tuck them in. Because do it again. And again." After a while, even the distractions start to feel sterilized with over planning and preparation. Date night is a chore. Vacations are more trouble than they're worth. In the business of running this Dream Home, those things are considered frivolous and unnecessary. 

I read somewhere that scientists don't fully understand why we dream. I suspect after having mine stolen from me that they exist so that we might chase something that doesn't fully exist yet, to inspire us to reach for something that isn't there, because the alternative is that we keep replicating the day before in exact facsimiles, tracing pathways in our head that become so well trod that we eventually follow them out of habit and not desire. If dreams are the roots to the human plant, then starving them will kill all the pretty parts.

I know it sounds insane, which is why I decided to write it down for now. I might do something about it at some point, but right now I decided I would track a few days and see what I think about this after I journal on the subject for a bit. Then maybe I'll reread it and see if I should commit myself to an insane asylum. Maybe I'll try researching some tips on lucid dreaming, see if I can't revitalize the missing dreams?

8/14/2014- The cycle

I used to dream regularly. When the thought that my dreams were being taken from me first crept into my head, I thought the same as anyone else, "I must be going crazy." But it makes the most sense. It isn't just me. My husband hasn't done anything new in years, not in life, work, the bedroom. We are trapped in the vision of perfection that used to be, the dreams we had before we grabbed onto them and made them real by moving in here, starting our family. But dreams have soft spots and holes in them, places that you forget to fill in, gaps that weren't the focal point but are highly noticeable in their absence by their impact on the rest of your life. It's like Dark Matter. We don't know why it's there or where it comes from, but it's safe to say that we couldn't take it all away overnight without some major problems. There's a certain spice, a flavor that existed before we had everything set up here before everything stabilized. Sure, we still worry about the climbing credit card debts and how we're going to pay for the kid's college education, but for the most part we can see how the rest of our lives are going to play out and we're just riding the rails towards the end, because we dreamed it into being this way.

One of the kids gets in trouble once a week it seems, little stuff mostly. Dennis doesn't turn in his homework on time, Elise was caught talking when she shouldn't be, and Kyle and I are always there to gently force them back onto the tracks with a reminder that they should be always looking forward, never side to side, never behind.

My husband Kyle cooks one of the same five or six meals for dinner on rotation and we fill in the blank spots with pizza and fast food. We have been on the same dinner and a movie date once a month for the last ten years. He gets a raise and we celebrate. I get a promotion and we treat ourselves. We watch our shows, read our books, and over the course of the last decade we are seeing the point of all this less and less... doing it because it is the path that's been carved out by walking the trail so often. Moving in I thought, if I get laid once a week, that'd be perfect. And like clockwork, my husband or I get fresh with one another just that often, almost so that we can say we're living up to that slice of perfection we imagined when we first moved in- living the dream.

I feel terrible for putting my children through this. Last night as I was tucking him in for bed, I asked my youngest, Dennis, if he had ever had a dream before and he seemed confused. He said that he thought he had a dream once, and then he proceeded to make stuff up like kids learn to do when they're afraid of giving the answers that they believe grown ups are expecting from them. They are mostly good kids. They only get in trouble for little stuff really. Tiny rebellions in class, minor skirmishes with kids in their after school program, taking toys from one another and bickering when I'd prefer it to be quiet. And every step of the way, I've been there to coral them back onto the path. That same damn path that is so etched out now that it's like walking the walls of a maze, except I know exactly where the cheese is, so I disregard the rest of the labyrinth and follow the same dead end halls towards the singular objective of reaching its dead end prize... a "good night's sleep" at the end of the day. And I'm surprised somehow, when every morning I am placed back at the start.

8/15/2014- Mental Health Day

I can't shake the feeling that this house is aware that I've been catching on to its secrets somehow. I called in sick to work today so that I could get to the bottom of this. My husband was worried and offered to stay home with me, but I told him that I just needed some time to myself. That only seemed worried him more, so I blamed the kids- told him they were driving me up a wall and I just needed a nice quiet day to myself to read and relax, maybe take a hot bath and finally use some of those salts he'd given me for Valentine's Day a couple years back. He joked at the mention of taking a bath, saying now he really did want to stay home and keep me company now. For a second my heart fluttered and I felt a rush of romance as I imagined him staying home for the expressed purpose of making love, but alas, if ever it was a real offer, he lost his nerve and kissed me on the cheek, whispering something into my ear about how he loved me and hopes I have a nice day. "You deserve it," I remember him saying as he pulled away.

As soon as he left, I started researching techniques for recalling dreams which seemed inextricably linked to lucid dreaming- or, the technique of being aware that one is in a dream state, which many proclaim opens the door to controlling one's dreams. The steps seemed simple enough. It helps to be tired? Check. Have a pen and paper handy? Check. Try to wake up in the middle of a dream or set an alarm clock for intervals of ninety minutes? Check. I also decided that it wouldn't hurt to add a glass of wine and a bubble bath to the mix, because this was going to burn one of my vacation days after all.

As I climbed into the tub, I couldn't help but think that this was going to be the most lovely ghost hunting ever recorded. The website said that once you feel like you are approaching sleep, you should repeat a phrase that declares your intent. I planned on using the mantra, "I'm going to take my dreams back." When the warmth of the water brought the heat of my blood to a matching temperature, I found myself letting go of the waking world. All of the sensations that unknowingly ate a part of my attention until I had nothing left throughout the day, each of them slipped into the water and became part of something larger than the sum of their parts.


The last thing I remember before finding myself here was the echo of my mantra, "I'm going to take my dreams back." The words repeated over and over. I felt my lips moving to say them, but it was all groggy and disconnected. My mouth felt numb and thick, like I'd just left the dentist. It moved on a broken record's path, out of habit or by someone else's control, but not of my own will. There is another master of this space to which I am just a visitor- an interloper. I am instantly aware that I am trespassing. I look in every direction for the border that I have crossed to get into this place so that I might return before someone is aware of my transgression, but there is nothing, only empty space in every direction.

Slowly, I feel the waking world dropping out of focus entirely, the connection severed and the auto-repeating mantra is silent. When this happens, the world I found myself in comes to life. Everywhere I look, there is movement painted in grays and blacks, contrasted by a smoke darkened sea green. That singed aquamarine seems to be breathing, but only when I am watching it. It's like the empty spaces, the places I am not actively focusing my attention on are dropped out of existence- like a movie set, the Dreaming does not bother to construct the places that the audience will never see, but somehow I know of their lack of presence. I sense their nonexistence. When I cast my eyes to the place that I am certain did not exist a moment earlier, it is created just in time for the shapes to reach my eyes as the place that I had been viewing slips out of this world forever. I can almost see the transitions when my vision sweep across the horizon, everything blurs unnaturally and my eyesight seems sluggish to respond, allowing the scene time to construct itself. The swirling of colors dizzy my head and I aim to steady my gaze against the nauseating churning of black and gray and burnt aquamarine.

As my sight stills, I see the threshold that I was once carried over, the view that I will never forget. Wobbling forward towards the archway as if I am being carried, my head swims the distance between the door and the other place- the part of the world where I had just been but does not exist. There is a dread that cuts through that alluring sense of wonder that held my attention before, digging into my skin and dragging me forward to a place I no longer want to go. I cannot move my head to see in any other direction now. The talons of something wicked are gripping my skull like a vulture carrying away the carrion of its intended feast.

I know that I am in the dream. I know that I wanted to take them back. I remember the mantra now clearly, mocking me as I am dragged towards this archway- this mouth of my Dream Home that sucks me in, threatens to devour me.

"I'm going to take my dreams back," I hear a voice say, a voice that sounds like dead leaves being dragged across dry gravel. Accentuating each word differently every time, the mantra changed meaning with every repetition, "I'm going to take my dreams back."

Hissing and a demonic laughter filled the space between each restatement. "I'm going to take my dreams back!" The creature shrieked angrily.

The hordes of unknown things that lay beyond what I could see, all around me, snickered and chortled their pleasure a little more loudly. "I'm going to take my dreeeams back!" The word "back" was struck like a heavy mallet against tightly pulled dead skin across the top of an ancient drum. I tried screaming to release the pressure of what terror filled me to the point of explosion, but if I made any sound it was lost in the mad eruption of unseen things clamoring feverishly in the distance, cheering for the thing that dragged me relentlessly ahead.

Then, with a ferocity that shook the fiber of the world I was being pulled through, like a moon that thought it was so damned important and grand only to find itself caught in the orbit of something much bigger, the creature spoke into my ear, "EyyyeeeeAm goooooing. To taaaaaake. My. Dreeeeeams. BACK!"

The dreams! I told myself. I should have known it all along. I needed to wake myself up now! I tried to remember my physical body, the sensations of each limb. I could feel my arm, warm and silent, motionless beneath the water where I had left it. Then the claws dug more deeply into my scalp and I was yanked back into the Dreaming. I could feel what I assumed to be blood running down the sides of my skull, tracing rivulets around my ears and through my hair. I felt my eyes for a moment and I tried to pry them open. The muscles were non violently non-responsive, refused to help. I tried to will the power required to see the world I knew was just beyond their lids, but it felt like the claws that had their talons drilled into my crown were pushing me more deeply into the Dream World for every struggle I made, like a clawed hand holding my head below water.

I remembered the bath, caught somewhere between dreaming and awake, and I felt the parallels of the two converging worlds align. The feeling of drowning in dreams with the remembering that I was in a bathtub in real life connected and panic seized me. I felt so close to opening my eyes. I could hear the chime of my phone's alarm going off and I reached for the sound. I could feel splashing all around me. I could feel myself gasping for air as I bobbed above and below the surface at irregular intervals, but I could not fully wake.

I held my breath and felt the lids of my eyes moving slowly open to present the tiniest of slits. The real world was there, I knew it, but it seemed blurry and distant. My body was reacting on instinct and not by any force that my will was enacting.

On the edge of the bath I could see the pen and paper that I had set there to recount my dreams while they were still fresh. I reached for them, mangling the pad of paper in my hand but holding it firmly. I clutched it like a totem, a relic of the Waking World that I so desperately wanted to be a part of once more. My senses lit  like the muzzle of a gun and I found that there were little gaps and flashes when I could command the limbs, or at least direct them slightly. It felt helpless though, like throwing large stones into a rushing river in hopes to slightly alter its course. I heard the mocking voice from the Dreaming again, speaking in its sweetest Devil's tone, trying to lull me back to sleep and keep me in its reach.

The pen splashed into the water next to me and the one hand I could control at the time searched for it blindly. When it came up, I was surprised to see it as much as I was surprised that I could see it. I wrestled myself onto the edge of the tub to start writing, feeling the tendrils of something very old and powerful wrapping around my legs and wrestling them into sleep again. The deadened skin felt pin pricks traveling upwards to my hips, but nothing else. No other sensation could penetrate what had been claimed back by the Dream Eater. I knew it coming for the rest of me. I scribble scratched, unable to read the markings on the page, uncertain that I was even in control of the fingers that wrote there upon the water splotched paper. I dropped the pad beyond the wall of the bath, flicking it safely away from the tub in a pitiful gesture that was meant to be a hurling discus throw. The pen slumped backwards with me while the shape-shifting Dream Beast coiled its massive arms around me, covered me. It wrapped me in the womb that guaranteed a comfort that was both chilling and warmth. Frightening and enticing. Made of sound and silent as sin.

I have no idea how long I have been here now, slowly digested into the belly of this monster. I have lost all hope of finding the world beyond, my lovely, simple, boring world. I wish I had been content to feed the ravenous monster little by little, or smart enough to trust my instincts when they screamed danger. I wish that I had run away and taken everyone I loved with me. But instead, I came in search of its face and I have found it. It is made of all the things we know to fear from birth. My only salvation lies in brief glimpses I can recall of my struggle to warn whoever next might dare to go where I have been. The note I scrawled before I slipped away for good, I can see it clearly now. It read: "I am going to take my dreams back" the note proclaimed.

I couldn't say what's happened to my body. I think I'm dead, more or less, my consciousness ripped from the Waking World entirely. I imagine they found me drowned with a glass of wine, asphyxiated and grotesque with a note that made the scene read like an obscure suicide scrawl. Maybe I didn't die though- maybe I'm in a coma somewhere, motionless, feeding myself to this demon for as long as the hospital chooses to feed my body and keep it alive. I am like some snake eating its tail, endlessly taking in sustenance equal to what I am pouring out into the goblet from which this Dream-Devil drinks. I hope that when they found me, the image was vile and unbearable. I pray that the state they found me in cast such a profound terror on my family that they could never have another night's sleep within the walls of this house again.

At least then they'd be safe. I hope so badly that my family is forced to move and make dreams somewhere else and that the place they choose to plant these new dreams is not already taken by a gluttonous fiend that makes a meal from the very bones of their imagination. My dearest Kyle, my precious Elise and Dennis: Do not search for me in dreams for that is precisely where you will find me. If you wake up one day and discover that you have lost something, find it anywhere but here. Here is a solitary darkness that cannot be pierced by someone from our world. Here is only the Eater and the Feeder. Prometheus. Torment unending. Constantly dying and never dead. Find your dreams among the Waking World.

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