Nightmares I remember

giant octopus

Age 4:

I am at school. It is empty in my classroom.  I walk through the long halls out to where the playground should be.  Instead there is a forest.  I see the kids and teachers hiding in the trees. I know what they are hiding from. I climb a tall oak tree with huge branches.  I hear a sound like a huge dream beating.  An enormous egg shaped purple dinosaur monster approaches me.  It says,”‘I will eat you and everyone here.  If you don’t want me to eat you, go get me some ice cream.”  I run inside the building.  I search and search and search. I find the ice cream in an old canvas magazine rack.  I carry the cold tub of Breyers chocolate out to the backyard forest.  The monster is gone.  The kids are gone. The teachers are gone.  I stand alone with the ice cream as it begins to melt. I am hungry, and it is my favorite flavor, but I will not eat it.   My stomach churns. Did I save everyone? Did I save no one? Did I save myself?

Age 16:

The sun glares off of the sand dunes.  I feel the power of the dark horse beneath me. My hair is whipped by the wind. My robes flap and flail behind me.  My people ride behind me with urgency.  We must return quickly for the ceremony.  I arrive at the longhouse.  There is trouble, famine,  war approaches. I am the clan leader. The high priest tells me that it is time.  We walk out to the side of the building.  A long iron rod sits in a bed of hot coals.  The starshaped brand will mark me forever. I I raise my bare right foot. He places the brand against my sole. I do not cry. This is the only thing I can do.

Age 23:

I stand on a sun-drenched hillside.  The bright green grass blows lazily in the breeze. There are dozens of children around me giggling joyously, at play.  A gray cloud moves across the sun and the breeze turns cold.  Over the hill crest, I notice water rising.  A bulbous form the size of a hot air balloon emerges.  The tentacles reach toward me – so many I can’t count them. They grab small bodies, lifting them into the air, squeezing them.  I fight one arm at a time. I can do it.  I free one child, and the now empty arm seeks out and plucks another child.  This will never end.

Age 36:

I sit in the driver’s seat of my old four door silver Honda civic.  My husband, my two children, my parents, my grandparents and all my kin by blood and by spirit, sit in the car with me.  I am excited to take this journey with them all.  We are taking a vacation to Ocean City, M.D.  I pull onto the bridge that crosses over the water.  I can smell the salt air,  feel the summer heat on my skin.  The radio is playing “Miss Independent” .  Then, right in front of me,  a silent wall of water, 10 stories high, appears before me.  Above me, the arching water touches the blue sky where seagulls soar.  In the car, we are all silent.  There are no words

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