My counselor suggested I start recording my dreams. I think I can see a lot of the behind the scenes processing that went into this one. It was long, and vivid, and I don’t know that I capture quite how distressing it was.
It’s hazy, and yet other things are distinct. I can see the pebbled grit of old pavement and the faded paint stripe beneath my foot. The building behind me bears the peaked roof and tall narrow windows of the church where we married. Yet when I look up, glance beyond to the road that runs alongside it, just past the beauty bark and letter-board, it disappears into an indistinct fog to the left and right. He’s there with me.
[I wake up, and fall asleep again, sliding right back into the dream but every time I do so, something shifts.]
I’m not sure why, but I climb into the passenger seat of my Ex’s vehicle. It’s the little blue car he first owned on the outside, but inside it’s bigger, with a Subaru wagon type trunk. I feel nervous, and wary, but he is pleasant and chatty and easy as he always is on his best days, fingers tapping an easy, fidgety tempo on the pleather wrapped steering wheel. The wheel is blue, and there are ridges on the inside where fingers can wrap around and fit between for a more secure grip.
We drive, and I don’t remember where we travel, or how long we drive for, the roads are not familiar, but then we end up at my home of ten years, where I grew up as a tween, teenager and where I lived when we first met. I go inside, and someone is home, but I don’t remember who. My ex follows me inside, socially, and somehow my bicycle becomes a part of the dream. It’s clean, and bright blue, and he tucks it under his arm with familiarity, saying he knows how to fix it up for me. He owes me. He doesn’t mind. Whoever is in the house says he seems to be doing really well, they are easy and comfortable around him.
[Wake. Back asleep. Transition.]
We are back in the car, and driving again. Going to his new workplace which is a bike shop. We are turning down indistinct roads in the more rural suburbs, places that look like they should be familiar. Trees overflow the edges of the four lane road. We stop at a light, and he turns. It is a single road with no outlet, that leads to a business complex, tall and white and with glass around every other floor, including the first one. No one is around. There are no buses nearby I can walk to, nothing close enough that I can get to if I need.
We walk inside, and again, he’s got my bike tucked under one arm. ‘I’ll fix the seat. The chain. The wheels.’ He’s saying, and other things that fade from memory. I don’t really want to be there, but he has something of mine and if I don’t follow, I don’t think I’ll get it back. The glass door swings closed behind me, and we walk down a hallway, one side glass, overlooking a graduated, terraced little park area between two buildings full of short cement barriers and plant boxes overflowing with greenery. A pleasant place for a lunch, or a break, but it too is empty, ominously so. Everything is still, but the two of us.
[Wake. Back asleep. Transition.]
As we walk, we turn down a hallway towards his workplace. Now the walls are solid, and we leave the glass behind, that sense of openness fading. I can still see it when I glance over my shoulder. The walls feel close, but I can stretch out my hands to either side and touch nothing. All of the sudden, he grows angry. I’m not sure what he talks about, or why, but suddenly he’s raging, face contorted, eyes hard.
BAM. His fist slams into the wall. Once. Twice. I lose count.
I turn away, running the tips of my fingers along the wall, feel the marbled texture of the matte paint as I go back the way I came. There is a sterility to the air that is dry on my throat, and I’m trembling with every step. Trying not to panic. Narrow, horizontal windows line the very top of the wall, too high to reach, but the afternoon sun glows through them in slanting rays. He’s angry that I’m turning away, and I can hear him behind me, words indistinct, but all I need to hear is his tone to know his anger.
We walk, but I don’t run. Back in the hallway where one side is glass, there is a door to the courtyard, and I press the clean steel of the horizontal handle and cast the door wide. It rings, a bobbling sort of noise, as the glass reverberates.
Now he’s really angry, and the bike under his arm becomes the object of his anger as he follows me outside. He yanks off the wheels, which are no longer things of rubber, spokes and metal, but cardboard, and begins folding and tearing them up, then throwing them aside. I don’t wait to see what happens next, instead I walk up the terraced courtyard to a higher, grassy area above. Turning right around the stark tall corner of the building, I reach down to tug off my boots, pinching the tops between the fingers of my right hand. The grass prickles beneath the soles of my feet, and I walk quickly forward to where trees cluster thickly along the side of the building.
[Wake. Back asleep. Transition.]
The branches are sweeping evergreen, drooping across my path, the flat prickled needle-leaves of a Red Cedar. The ground is loamy beneath my feet, and flat, but I walk for a long time, brushing aside low-hanging branch after low-hanging branch. I hear no pursuit, but a desperate need to find the road fills me until I can think of nothing else. When the path before me begins to clear, I can see the road, but cannot reach it, for the lip of earth and brown forest detritus upon which I stand stretches to my left and right, but delves into a deep ditch and culvert before me that I cannot cross.
I turn left, and start walking, but I don’t put my shoes back on, they swing, still pinched together by the fingers of my right hand. Time passes, and I wind around in the forest, around clumps of trees and fern, following the ditch. My shoulder-blades prickle and itch. I don’t know how much time has gone, but the air is cooler. Clouds have covered the sun, leaving a light pale and gray and diffuse as it covers the road glimpsed on the other side of the ditch. As it filters through branches and the pointed tips of treetops.
Suddenly, I see an RV in the ditch, and stretching out from it are two tarps, one blue, one green, propped up by poles, thin, nearly invisible strings pull each supportive rod straight and give tension to the makeshift covering. I step down inside, but do not find much, what I see there is hazy and indistinct and shorn from memory. There is the impression of clutter, crates and boxes and coolers stacked around as if to form makeshift walls.
Yet now that I am down in the ditch, I find a path to the road. It twines a little, not a straight path, but I follow it, feeling the grit on my feet, the ground rising to either side of me as the path narrows. For a moment I am outside myself, looking down as I step out onto rough pavement, propping the edge of a hand against my brow as I peer first to the left, and then to the right. When I begin to walk, there is a truck on the road, stopping. One I didn’t notice before. Rust red, and its owner rolls down the window. Suddenly I’m inside, and myself again, and the rough interior squeaks and creaks as it rattles down the road. Moments are flashing by, and there is a little girl with pale blond pigtails, sitting on the seat between us. Then on my lap. I’ve been kidnapped. I know this. But I don’t know how. Or why. Or why I am still there. I just am. I don’t even see, clearly, the person in the driver’s seat.
Sometimes it is me. Sometimes it is someone I don’t know. Sometimes the little girl is there, sometimes it is just me, sometimes it is that other person. There is an understanding of threat. That I am not in control, even if my hands wrap tightly around the wheel.
Time passes, but I don’t know where it goes. There is the sensation that life continues this way, without the memories actually taking place before my eyes. The next moment I am in a courtroom, my hands restless in my lap. Someone is reading a litany at me. Asking me about purchases I’ve made.
I have no defense. I was the one who made them. All the debt. The theft. The wrong-doing… all is in my name. They have a picture of me, and they are pointing at it, but I cannot process the words, only the anger on the prosecutor’s face, the sharp jab of his finger.The judge sits silently above me in her dark robes. There are people in the audience, but they are nothing more faceless heads, bobbing and murmuring above dark clothes.
I wake up.