I was dreaming again. An uncomfortable dream, yes. The kind where you want to shuffle your feet, only it feels like they’re leaden. You try to speak, but someone has sewn your mouth shut with invisible thread. I hate dreams like this. They turn me into a simple passenger.
Ah, but you will likely want to know what it was about.
We were gathered in a circle, under a tall tree. An old oak, it was. A glaring autumn sun filtered through its boughs. Not just the usual suspects were gathered, mom, dad, my sister. A whole bunch of other relatives popped up, most of whom have never been good at showing up. Other folks I haven’t seen in ages.
Now, isn’t it wonderful to see you all gathered for the occasion? Where have you been the past fifteen years, I wonder? Come now, why the long faces, why so dour? We’re all finally in one place. Good enough for me.
Mom, don’t you cry on me now.
I wanted to talk to them, really. Hug the family. Greet old friends, shake hands. Spit into the face of those who showed up for no other reasons than political. Couldn’t do any of it, of course, because…dreams. They all keep staring at you, but don’t hear you. Funny, it was as if I suddenly started speaking French – everyone was pulling all kinds of faces at me. Mostly the sad and uncomprehending sort. Happens to you too, right? To speak in a foreign language while you’re asleep.
I recall gazing at the leaves above me, sweat trailing down my back and ruining the shirt mom gave me for the occasion, the light steadily growing sharper until I could bear it no more and screwed my eyes shut.
The clink of a spoon against a glass brought me back. We were seated in a dining hall now and very concentrated on the food in front us. Everyone except me, that is. There was a hole in my stomach, but I couldn’t care less. Aunt Berta, of all people, was responsible for the spoon. She was asking for everyone’s attention. So like her. They’d been ignoring me before, but now everyone stood obediently up. Right, I’ve never been as good with words as dear auntie. I couldn’t focus on what she said, because someone turned on the neon lights on the wall behind her back. The light bled into every corner of my vision. Turns out squinting hard is feasible in a dream.
God, would someone please turn it off?
I woke up then. Felt a dull stab of pain in my side where worms were eating their way through my body. Uncomfortable dreams, yes.
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