Stolen Dreams

“Don’t do it,” I said to her. But she did it, she didn’t listen to me, and then she was gone.

Football season had just started. The evenings were coming sooner and the nights were growing longer. It all happened so fast, in the blink of an eye. One second, she was the Jessica I had known and loved. The next second, she was gone. It was a weird feeling—like she was a stranger, though her appearance was so familiar.

Every night, we would meet at the abandoned church and lie with each other. We loved it; it was our thing. You know, she once told me that those moments were the most sacred to her, that we would be one with each other. Now, looking back, all of her words seem nonexistent, like an entire chapter was ripped out of my book.

I had just finished my studies and took off to meet her at the usual spot. When I got to the church, I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right. I felt separated from her. The air seemed colder. The night seemed quieter. And my mind seemed noisier. I crept into the church and looked around. I didn’t see her. I called out her name, and nothing. Maybe she is on the second story. I thought to myself. I reached the top step and there she was, standing above a hole in the floor with a noose around her neck.

“What are you doing, babe?”

“Just leave me be; there is no other way out.”

“What do you mean? What about us?”

“Honey, I love you, but what is the point in living when I am just so sad?” She said.

“We can work this out. Many people feel like this and they go and see the doctor and everything works out.”

“No, no it doesn’t,” She said.

Those were her last words to me. Not, I love you or, I’m going to miss you.

What happened next went from very slow motion to very fast motion. She turned away, looking straight forward, and plunged to her death. I could hear her neck snap, a crisp, clean, snap. And then everything in my mind shattered. I stepped over to the hole in the floor and looked down upon her. I then raced downstairs and stood their staring: she was like a beautiful, lovely marionette hanging. A certain blankness glazed upon her eyes. She couldn’t recognize me, and for the first time, I couldn’t recognize her.

I looked down, just below her feet, and saw a piece of paper lying on the floor. It read:

Life is messy. Tears are eternal. And I feel like a firefly trapped in a jar.

I put the note in my pocket, reported the suicide, and then left.

Months went by and I still couldn’t wrap my mind around her death. I just wanted her back, and I wanted to understand why she left like that, why she felt she couldn’t have come to me for guidance. All of those times lying together and we really weren’t one with each other; we were as separated as life and death.

Toward the middle of winter, I ran into her mom at the super market and asked how she was doing. She began sobbing and gave me a giant hug. Jessica’s mom adored me. It was a long embrace; it felt like eternity. Then she pulled away and said, “I’m probably doing as a bad as you.”

“I know,” I said.

“Have dinner with me tonight. I’m cooking your favorite beans and rice.”

“Sounds good. How about 6?” I said.

“Ok.”

Even her house seemed different, with Jessica gone and all… That night, we ate dinner, a mostly silent dinner.

“I know you probably don’t want to talk about this, but did you see it coming—perhaps not suicide, but something bad?” I said.

“Yea, I knew something wasn’t quite right, but when I’d approach her about it, she would tell me it was nothing and that she was just stressed out.”

“I see. Well, you got more than I did…”

I poured myself another glass of wine and walked into the den. This is too bizarre. She doesn’t seem to be that out of sorts over her daughter’s death. I thought to myself.

On the table next to me was a notepad with some notes scribbled on it: on the full moon commence the cycle…rub the stone first… What the hell is this? Full moon, stone…

I looked over to the book shelf and saw a book sticking out: “Modern Witchcraft for The Coniving Witch.” Really…Is this some kind of joke? I began flipping through the pages, one was folded down. The title on the page read: Dream Walking. It explained how to enter peoples’ dreams and embed them with subliminal messages.

I brought the book back out into the dining room.

“Hey, what’s this?” I said.

Almost choking on her food, “Where did you find that?” She said.

“It was in the den…do you know how to dream walk?”

“You shouldn’t be meddling in other’s business…”

“Well, why the hell do you have witchcraft books?”

“That book was given to me by mother. It’s time for you to leave,” She said.

“Ok. I need to use the restroom first.”

I walked down the hall and to the bathroom. I flipped on the fan, the light, shut the door, and then walked into Jessica’s bed room. I began rummaging through her stuff trying to find some clues into her death. God help me. Show me. I scanned her room one last time. Her pillow! I looked under her pillow and found her diary.

I could hear footsteps coming from down the hall. Shoot. Screw me… I edged up to the door and peered down the hall. She was standing outside of the bathroom with a kitchen knife. I crossed the room and over to the window. I climbed out onto the roof and down the drain pipe.

When I got home, I went straight to my room and began reading the diary. There seemed to be an entire dream log dating back to several months before her death. I read every entry. The first portion of the log described weird dreams in which she hung herself. Then, the entries began getting more graphic, more descriptive. The last entry:

I don’t know what to do. I have this desire to hang myself; I keep having dreams about it. I can’t help them; I’m going to have to…

I closed the diary and laid back on my bed. There is no way. Did she really plant these suggestions into her own daughter’s dreams…

Everything took a weird twist that night, but I actually felt better. At least I knew it wasn’t Jessica’s doing, rather, her mom’s.

Then she woke up. It was all a dream. Jessica pulled out her dream journal and began writing:

I had the weirdest dream last night. I hung myself. The entire dream was of my mom’s plot to kill me and my boyfriend’s coping with the whole ordeal. But it was just a dream; that means it’s not going to happen…

Jessica climbed out of bed and walked to the den. She looked at the books and found one sticking out: Modern Witchcraft for The… Oh, dear God! She dropped the book and fainted.

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New York

Let me tell you…
This happened in New York.
He was feeding the pigeons
Shreds of bread—
His papa’s bread
From the bakery.
They pointed and laughed at him.
Though
He was a clever boy.
Threading a string
Upon a pigeons foot
And flying away—
Far from them.
The next morning,
The paper read:
“Children in Park Spot UFO Dangling From a Bird.”
Nor there, or there,
His identity remained
unknown.

Attention

Tonight, I sit down at my desk and pull out a pen. I pull out a piece of paper. And then I begin writing. One word, then another, and another. Now a sentence, then another… And finally, a paragraph. I look down upon the words I write hoping they make sense. Hoping they bare even a scintilla of meaning. Yet, I never really know—do i…

Tomorrow, I will climb into my car and drive somewhere. Tonight, I do not know where.

The next day, I could plant a flower. Yes, a flower would be nice. I would water it, hoping it wouldn’t die. Hoping if I pay a bit of attention, it will be enough.

I suppose that’s what this is really all about: attention. How can anything ever hold meaning for me if I don’t pay attention? The words I write will remain lifeless. My driving excursion, fatal. And a lonely flower will remain without a vase.

I shall pay attention for just one more minute.

For just one more minute: the i will remain lowercase (the way it ought to be). My breathing will be deep. Birds chirping. The list can go on and on, but only for my attention span.

The span of my attention: defined by distractions, warranted by meaning.

That leaves me diagonal, perpendicular, just an observer. (I’m fine with that.)

Everyday can unravel, unnoticed. (or) Everyday can manifest with thoughtful, attention.

You know, none of this really means anything: I just strung a bunch of words together so I could leave you with this vignette.

I lie in bed with a soft focus glazed upon my mind’s inner walls. Night has fallen outside. The world sleeps—it must. And I, though dreamy in my consciousness, feel the soft whisper of my pillow caress my neck like wind blowing upon snow. I’m not yet asleep, though close. I can feel my body growing heavier, but a hollow heavy—like air has been blown into my tomb. My heart beats—thu, thump—my blood pumps, and then, only then, do I fall asleep.
Sometimes, thoughtful attention is as easy as casual Fridays. 

Tears

They say men don’t cry.
They say they don’t cry—not all.
When they hurt themselves,
They don’t cry.
When they lose a game,
They don’t cry.

But sometimes men cry.
When we feel empty,
Like our soul has been sucked dry by the world,
When we just want to die,
But we have to live for other people,
When we feel lonely enough…
Lonely enough to accept
The company of our most intimate demons,
Sometimes men cry.

Men cry the tears
Of poetry shed by our perceptions:
Brutal, misled, hopeless
Analytical thoughts
Tainted by our past,
Perceived by the present,
Tears as faithful as rain falling from the sky.

It’s like receiving a letter stating:
“You’re dead,
Though you’re still alive.”
Sincerely,
Your Demise.

Cat Eyes

He sat there, on his couch, staring into the depths of a picture hanging from the wall. A scenic view of mountains overlooking a lake nursed his thoughts. He wanted to be there, to be away from his life and his world.

Things had been going downhill for him for a while now—his job, his girl. And unstable he grew, by the day, as he toyed with his paranoia. He had been having very obscure dreams for weeks, dreams of people plotting against him, hunting him. But one of which was different from all: a leather bag of sorts swinging over his head like a pendulum. It was a reoccurring dream, but he knew not of its meaning. He sat there just waiting for something, anything to happen—preferably out of the ordinary.

He flipped on the television set and began scanning channels. Meanwhile, his cat, Felix, hopped up onto the couch and laid down next to him. He purred and then sunk his fangs into his leg and began drinking his blood. Peculiar? No, this was the most ordinary situation in his life: his cat lived on his blood. Sanitary? No. and that is kind of where this story begins.

About a week later, the cat died—he had caught a blood disease from all of the human blood he was feeding on. I guess you could say this was the unordinary circumstance he had been waiting on.

He held a funeral for him in his back yard two days later. Into the ground he lowered the soap box casket he had made. He then cut his wrist and dripped blood onto the box. “Here lies Felix: a furry friend, a loyal friend. Rest in peace.”

Late that night, when all was dark and he was asleep, Felix climbed from his grave. First, his paws reached through the virgin soil, then his head, and then his body. He stretched and cried out to the moon, a screeching noise that pierced the night, stopping every demon in its track. He made his way into the house and up to his owner’s bed.  He sunk his fangs into his neck, and drained his master dry.

 

6 am. Carlos rolled over in his bed. These damn dreams! What do they mean? I just don’t get it. Im not a surgeon. What do I do? He thought to himself. The dreams were getting worse by the night: surgical procedures, blood, organs. He couldn’t make any sense of it. He layed back down and closed his eyes.

“Carlos, listen carefully…”

He opened his eyes. He tried to move his body; he was paralyzed.

“What do you want?”

“When the time comes, you will know.”

He woke up. What the heck is going on? Was that all a dream he thought. Was I dreaming about interpreting my dreams…

 

 

Weeks passed, letters piled up, and finally the neighbors began wondering why the lone cat was without an owner. Carlos, the next-door neighbor, walked over to the house. He rang the doorbell, no answer. He checked the door knob, unlocked. He walked in and began investigating the situation.

Felix slinked in Carlos’ shadow as he made his way throughout the house, room by room. This is odd where is he. Felix stepped out into the light, crossing his path. Carlos looked down and said, “Take me to your owner.”

Felix brushed against his leg and led him to the loft.

Carlos looked upon the body, then at the cat. “Good work, good work, indeed.”

“What am I saying? What is good work?” It was like he was looking down upon his own body, seeing himself move, carry out a deed foreign to his wildest fantasies.

After bringing the cat and the body to his house, he went into the basement and began preparing for the operation. He placed the body on a long metal table and placed the cat next to him. “This is only going to hurt a bit,” he said to Felix. He reached into the cat’s fur and found the zipper. After unzipping the cat, he pulled out its brain and placed it upon the cold table. He then began the brain transplant.

Hours went by; Carlos continued working on the body. After everything was said and done, he took off the leather bag hanging from his neck, pulled out a small handful of Extex dust, and sprinkled it over the body.

“It worked; you did it,” the voice said.

Carlos collapsed to the ground. His eyes opened, he looked up, and the last the he saw were fangs piercing into his neck.

 

Glass Jar

The lights went out and I awoke just as suddenly. I looked over, only to see my alarm clock’s neon digits screaming 12 am. I pulled my covers back, put my feet on the floor, and said, “not again.”

This was the third night in a row that I heard the woman’s voice calling to me in my dreams. And the third night I got up and followed her distant tone.

After I walked out onto the porch, I climbed down the wooden stairs and continued down toward the lake. The lake was all black, a glassy sheen. But across the way was a faint glow that seemed to land at my feet.

I followed the trail of light with my eyes, then back to my feet, then back across the water. I could see letters forming in the glow, like a long stretch of message. Come to me. Hurry. I have something to show you.

I didn’t hesitate, well, maybe a little, but not too much. I climbed into the water and began swimming, following the light to the other side. When I got to the shore line, I got out and looked around: only darkness, trees, and a house.

“Come to me. Come into the house, but don’t forget to lock the door,” the voice said.

I walked into the house locked the door behind me.

“Upstairs.”

Where are the stairs? What is this really all about? I thought.

I made my way around the downstairs, looking for a way to the second floor. Finally, I an old oak flight of stairs that weaved and turned in a spiral motion. I began climbing, each step, the voice grew deeper. It felt as though I was ascending past my mind, past everything sane, and into the darkness.

I reached the top stair and then she spoke, “I’m right here.” “No, over here.” I looked around and saw a jar siting in the middle of the floor. It radiated with a sharp glow of blue light; enclosed in the middle was a butterfly baring iridescent colors.

“What is this? Who are you?” I said.

“I am your guardian,” she said.

“Well, what do you want?”

“Open the book beside me,” she said.

I walked over and knelt beside the jar. I opened the dusty book and began reading.

Day 1…Day 2…Day 3… It was a catalogue of all my days, actions, and thoughts. It was my Akashi records.

“I don’t understand; what do you want from me?”

“I want you to fill in the last page. I want you to decide how you’re going to die.”

“What the hell are you talking about? What kind of sick joke is this?”

“Seriously, you must fill in the last page,” she said.

“But that’s not how it works…”

“Do it and you will understand.”

With the last page staring at me, with the blank page screaming at me, I picked up the pen lying next to the jar and began writing:

People call me Jake, but my name is really Jacob. I have lived a very peculiar life, and now I am here, visiting this page, to spell out my death. I will die writing. That’s it. I refuse to write any more details than that.

“Ok, I’m done, I did it; now will you please explain…”

“There is no need: walk down stairs and open the cupboard on the wall,” she said.

Begrudgingly, I went down stairs and opened the cupboard.  Inside laid a silver egg. I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. What the heck is this? I thought. I tapped on the shell, and nothing. Three second went by and then it began cracking open. A little phoenix peaked its head out and stared into my eyes. Startled, I dropped it.

The phoenix stood on the floor with its shells lying to the side. It jumped up and down on the floor, excited to see me. And then everything went quite for a few minutes, as though it was waiting for me to truly acknowledge it.

I could feel my whole body vibrating—like I was separating at a molecular level. I looked down at the bird; it was making the most beautiful noise I have ever heard. What is it doing? The vibrations got stronger, more intense. And then my body, my frail shell, fell to the floor; the phoenix consumed my soul.

I was scared. I couldn’t see anything, but I was aware of everything around me. A few moments later I could see the butterfly flying toward me, toward the mouth of the phoenix. She landed on its wing, flapped her wings twice, and then flew away. The phoenix, then, flew over to my crumpled body, to my lifeless mouth, and blew a breath of life into me.

I sat up, confused, and looked around. Where is the butterfly? Where is the phoenix? The book!! I walked back up stairs and found the book lying on the floor, just as I had left it: the last page open, but different:

I am the butterfly in your life; I am your guardian. The phoenix is the Holy Spirit. And you, Jacob, are eternal. Your death doesn’t matter: it’s simply the beginning of your eternity. Your life does matter, though, every second of it—not to dictate your death—but for the soul purpose of God’s will. Stop acting selfish. This life doesn’t belong to you; your eternal life does.  

I picked up the pen and began writing underneath my guardian’s message:

I have found that every time I write, I die a little bit more, but I become newer, more fresh, during the process. It’s like shedding skin: I shed an older me onto the page so that a newer me can manifest. I have found that vitamins and supplements can help me feel better—I have twenty different ones sitting on my night stand. I found that slamming speed balls made me feel really, really good. But I have not found anything that can replace my relationship with Christ.

I feel like shit. I look into the mirror and see a marionette enslaved by learned behaviors and social contexts chiseled into my grain. For years now this has been bothersome to me as much as these damn fleas that have taken home to my house. But I understand what the problem is: it’s a disruption in my values. I have a value system put in place by Christ, and when I don’t live up to it, well, I feel like shit. Someone once told me that I must change my values so that I can hit the mark and not feel defeated.

But that won’t work either, and that is my spiritual battle. I can change my values, but then I’m lying to myself. Awww, yes, the curse of the believer: knowing the right way to live. It doesn’t matter how I change my values; there is only one path Christ walked—the path of righteousness. I’m left with one choice, the one choice I keep skating around: complete surrender.

I put down the pen, closed the book, and fell flat on my back. I closed my eyes and went to sleep.

 

 

Busy

Across the way
Neon signs light the vacant gas station,
Screaming for attention.
4 a.m.
A man sits in a beater truck
Wearing only a fedora
Where are his clothes?
People,
Who are these people
Gathering at this stop?
Perhaps their last moment.
So much attention
For a place still closed.
A boy puts his bike down;
A girl ties her puppy to the post.
Down. Away. Closed.
In the moment nothing happens,
Yet so much attention
For a store still closed.
The boy and the girl
Each
pull out a piece of paper
and write out of service across the front:
he places his by his bike
and she places hers by her puppy.
They both go to sleep.
The man in the truck wonders about these two.
I sip my coffee
Wondering what he is doing at a gas station
Still closed.