I think I’m dreaming, but I’m not quite sure… my son and I are running through the tall grass of my parent’s property in the dim light of early night, searching for the source of a skirmish we hear. A bird of ours is in distress, she is being attacked by something. He is far away from me, nearing the hen and her attacker faster than I am, and I begin to fear for his safety. ‘It can’t be any creature that would harm him’, I think as adrenaline comes over me. It looks a lost cause as I get nearer to the spot. The grass is too long to pinpoint the trouble, and it’s dark enough now that I believe our attempt to save her is lost. I am now aware that if it’s a dog moving in on her there may be more dogs closing in soon. My son himself is hardly tall enough to be spotted in the undergrowth and he seems all of a sudden vulnerable to the imaginary pack now sifting out of the woods and coming in closer. I call to him to stay back, I tell him we need to call this off. “Just come back!” I yell across the darkening field whose perimeter of forest now appears as lightless as black velvet. I feel some relief to hear his feet rustling back to me, the sound of his footsteps blending with the terrorized movements of our hen.
I now realize this is a dream, and the fearful mood dissolves just a bit, enough for me to begin to consider that I am replaying a version of what might have happened to the hen we had recently found dead in the garden. Then I begin to associate the dead carcass we’d seen in the garden with the meaty, tangy and tough strips of cured beef we like to indulge in every so often, and note how that kind of food feels as crude and real and death-like as the event that’s going on before us. As my focus now begins to turn in earnest to the idea of beef jerky, I realize that I would very much like some of that now. My dream fades a bit more; one half of me wants to remain in that dark field and finish our quest, retrieve our bird and scare off the predator, yet the other half of my mind is now seriously attached to the idea of beef jerky. I realize I’m hungry…. hey, I didn’t really have supper, did I? No, just broccoli. Man, I really do want something like that.. do we have any? Now I am indeed waking out of the dream. I am still able to shout one last thing to dream Elihu, but now I’m not sure he’s with me anymore. He’s still putting his energy into stopping the kill… so I finally leave him there, and open my eyes.
12:12 am. I smile to myself. That’s a number been in my world a long time. Got married on 12/12. And I am hungry. Salami. Got some of that. Started to buy it only recently for Elihu’s lunches. Is it enough to get me out of bed? I wonder, as I take an assessment of just how comfy I am, lying here under my warm covers rather than with cold, wet feet out in the middle of a field as I just was… Ok. Now I am awake. Yes, salami it is. And then the other half of the second-to-last sleeping pill to make sure I can truly get back to sleep.
I’m up. The salami does a good job. Not jerky, but salty, chewy. Kind of. I step outside and notice that it must be cloudy, because it sure is light out for the middle of the night. All that light from the mall, from the stores on 50 that stay lit all the time. All of it bouncing up onto the ceiling of low-lying clouds, keeping the land underneath bathed in a constant glow. Maybe something healthier to cap off this snack. A strawberry. Have one, leave two for Elihu’s lunch tomorrow. Just as I finish it, I realize I have bitten the inside of my mouth ever so slightly, and I notice the sour taste of the small cut mix with the tang of the strawberry’s last flavor. For a microsecond the two tastes are almost one. I worry it with my tongue to check how much it actually hurts. It upsets me for the briefest moment, til I remember what a familiar sensation it is. All the dozens of times throughout my life in which I’ve ever so slightly bit the inside of my cheek by mistake, the lingering salty, sour taste of an open cut left behind. I imagine myself if I were dying of some disease, thinking with nostalgia on something as preciously mundane as this, and becoming happy instead to experience it once more. Hm. One swallow of seltzer water will end this snack perfectly. Without checking the bottle, I grab it from the door of the fridge, take the top off and take a swig. It is not what I’d intended; instead it is the sickly sweet, no calorie sparkling lemonade I’d bought in anticipation of Elihu’s school chum coming over. Our seltzer water is too foreign and fancy for him, so I’d bought this. A taste of plastic hits me, and immediately I see the flourescent lights of a grungy corner garage where they sell Mountain Dew and stale candy bars.
My snack ends. So many images, all in a matter of mere seconds, wafting up from disparate corners of my memories. Waking in of itself becomes a dream. I shuffle back to my bed still going slow, energy mellow, hoping the transition back to the dream side might be more seamless than other nights. Roll into covers hardly pushed back, my body’s form still held by the pillows and blankets. Onto my right side, for I am a mostly a right side sleeper. Tuck it all in around me, and very soon am dissolving into the mysterious dimension of dreams once again.