Blue days, black nights

When I was younger, I had this reoccurring dream. Fair warning here: my dreams are usually pretty f-ed up, so FAIR WARNING.

I was in the girls' bathroom of my elementary school, crouched in a stall, clutching a book.
I had a sense that I had stolen the book, although I have no idea why.
It was painfully loud...I was surrounded by the scream of jet engines, and the pornographic beat of thousands of drums, and there was the rumbling of a fierce storm in my chest.
I squatted, with my back against the door, staring at a lone drop of urine on the toilet seat a few inches from my face.
As I grew older and realized I could control some of my actions in these dreams, I would attempt to will my gaze to the floor, or the cover of the book I clutched...anything but that damn drop of urine. Yet my eyes deceived me, and I would be slapped with an intense anger aimed at myself, for not being strong enough.
The roof would blow off, and what was already a powerful sound would somehow amp up. Rather than cover my ears, I would squeeze that book closer into the crook of my arms, closer to my small chest.
Then it got weirder.
Some sort of beast (surely a manifesto of my love for all things Stephen King) would fall from the sky, and begin banging on the stall door, rattling my teeth and my stomach in the process. It would actually knock, to the rhythm of an old ELO song, it's razor-sharp talons scraping the metal door. I would catch myself humming along, even singing the lyrics in my head, knowing I was giving in to what the beast wanted: 
          I look into the sky, the love you need ain't gonna see you through
            And I wonder why the little things you planned ain't coming true
            Oh oh Telephone Line, give me some time, I'm living in twilight
            Oh oh Telephone Line, give me some time, I'm living in twilight

The beast would beat the door open, jarring my body, propelling my face into the toilet bowl, and I would smell that drop of urine...it would fill my nostrils and leak down the back of my throat.
At the same time, nuns would float down from the sky, habits billowing in an even breeze, with hazy faces and clear voices speaking a language both foreign & familiar to my little girl ears.
Above the din of all of the noise, they would lift me with a strength only they had. The stall doors would fall away. I would see myself, above myself, and watch the beast-now lying on it's side, slithering in agony upon the dirty floor.
Any relief I felt at being saved was always short-lived, replaced by a sickening sense of dread that started at the pit of my stomach, arching out to my limbs, ending in a lightning bolt of heat and heaviness in my heart.
I would wake to sheets twisted around my body, heart hammering at the base of my throat, the taste of bile filing my mouth. Staring at the ceiling, I would hold my breath until my heart slowed, my mind a blank journal page.
As a child, there seemed to be no effects in the days following this dream. I would go to school, watch Cheers with my Dad, play with Barbies. But over the years, this dream  followed me through elementary and middle school, as worn and familiar as the green blanket I still cover up with at night.
Just before entering high school though, this dream became the beacon for something much more terrifying, a signal to me that my heart was about to betray me.
Within days of the dream, my heart would skip a single beat here, make up for it there, and my valve would start this pop and stick dance in protest. I would end up with a heart rate in excess of 200 bpm, my chest a torrent of fiercely jumbled beats fighting for control.
I felt powerless when I would wake from the beast/nun dream, dreading my inability to prepare for the slated episode.
Out of control.

When I had heart surgery several years ago to repair the wayward ways of my heart's rhythm, the dream stopped.
Until a couple of weeks ago.
I didn't think I was dreaming when my valve woke me, with it's almost-forgotten pop and stick dance. I laid in bed holding my breath, staring at a shadow of a tree on my window. My mind was a blank journal page.
My child stirred next to me, so I focused on her hand seeking mine beneath the sheets. As she found and sought refuge in it, I felt the dance end in my chest, and the loss of control take over. I gave in to it, drifting back to sleep.


kris said...

I used to have a dream much like this. Different monsters, different threats . . . external instead of internal.

But very similar.

So my heart skipped a few nervous beats as I was reading of your dream . . . as though you had somehow seen a version of my dream. And were about to speak my truths.

And then to read of your heart.

Oh my god.

And your child reaching for you?

The "pop and stick" dance subsiding in the warmth of that embrace.


You are very very good.


Left of Lost said...

@Kris-I find that interesting things happen to me all the time...I just have to look at them a bit differently..tweak my perception just a smidge, and then wow-I can see that it sucks that my valve did it's little thing, but my girl reached for me at just the right time. And she didn't even know it.

Thank you for the compliment. That means a lot coming from YOU, gifted writer that you are.