Nightmare

I was still swimming up, but I was no longer aware of what I was doing. It was like my body knew better than I did. And at the same time, I felt my body stop moving and explode in a cloud of bubbles that burst from my mouth as soon as it opened, before any words could escape.





The thin barb trailed down my collar and touched the back of my neck again.


But this time it didn’t scratch me or prick me enough to draw blood -- after all, what’s the point if you can’t drink the blood? I heard the waves, and I felt a strong wind blow over me. It was dark, but I could see my body floating on top of the water. And at first glance it looked just like all the other bodies that were swimming around me -- except for one thing -- there was something wrong with my face.


And then it hit me: My eyes weren’t open! How could I see myself if my eyes weren’t open?


And when did I take off my shirt? When did I turn over onto my stomach and start swimming toward shore? And why was there no pain in my neck where the barb had pricked me? Why didn’t I feel dizzy or like throwing up from being upside down? None of this made any sense at all!





But as soon as these thoughts entered my mind, they left again without a trace before they could become fully formed. That is to say, they stayed just long enough to register before disappearing into some deep hole in my brain where they couldn’t bother me anymore. After all, what good would it do to try and analyze everything that happened while you were dreaming when you were asleep (or almost asleep)? It wouldn’t make any more sense than trying to figure out what happens on a TV show after you wake up from falling asleep watching it before bed. And besides, there was only so much room for conscious thought inside your head (especially if you had an average-sized brain) -- and most people used most of their capacity on things that had nothing at all to do with what happened while they slept or dreamed (like worrying about money or politics or sports scores). So why not use some of your extra space on something else instead (like doing math problems in your head)? After all, dreams are short anyway -- and once you woke up again everything would fall back into place just like always (and besides, who said life made any more sense awake than asleep)? And even if something did seem strange now while you were dreaming (why didn’t you feel your heart beat when you ran uphill in gym class?), it wouldn’t matter much once you woke up and felt your chest pounding as soon as Coach blew his whistle. And besides, who said anything had to make sense?


So I stopped thinking about why my face didn’t look right -- after all, what good would it do to try and analyze everything that happened while you were dreaming when you were asleep?


And at the same time, I felt my body stop moving and explode in a cloud of bubbles that burst from my mouth as soon as it opened before any words could escape. And just like before, the thin barb trailed down my collar and touched the back of my neck again -- except this time it pricked me so hard that a little blood dripped out onto the water.





And then I woke up.

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The first thing I did was check for blood on my pajamas (I sleep in regular clothes now). But there wasn’t any. The second thing I did was count how many times I had to blink before the image of myself swimming toward shore faded away like smoke under a fan (four or five times). The third thing was remind myself that dreams aren’t real even though they sometimes seem more real than real life (because remember: You can’t trust your senses while you sleep because your brain isn’t connected to reality anymore). After all, if they were real why couldn’t anybody else see them too? And if they weren’t real (or at least partly fantasy), why were some of them so vivid? Why did they sometimes seem more lifelike than reality itself?


Why did some things happen exactly the same way every time you dreamed them over and over again without changing no matter how often or how long you dreamed about them until finally one day something different happened inside this same dream instead of waking up until after it happened? In other words: How often does something exactly like this ever happen in normal life outside your dreams where people can see exactly what happens inside somebody else’s dream? Never! And why else would you sometimes dream about strange things like having a tiny brain inside your head or being somebody else in another time, place, and body who couldn’t even see the real you if he was standing right next to you unless you told him to look inside his own head?




And besides, who said anything had to make sense?


So I reminded myself that dreams aren’t real even though they sometimes seem more real than reality (however much of this really sank in is anybody’s guess). And then I yawned and went back to sleep.


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When I woke up again it was morning. My mother had already left for work. The first thing I did was check for blood on my pajamas again (no blood this time either) before going downstairs for breakfast. And while eating my cereal and drinking juice with a straw so as not to mess up my new teeth which still hadn’t come all the way out yet, I thought about what type of game we might play that afternoon when Grandpa came over like he did almost every Sunday after church -- because Grandpa never went except when Mom asked him too since she always told him it was important for me to have strong Christian values and learn how important it is be good so that God would let me into Heaven whenever I died no matter how bad things got here on Earth.





That is to say, Mom always told Grandpa how important it was for me keep regular church attendance even though she didn’t go herself anymore since she said all the same stuff happened there now just like everywhere else now that people didn’t listen or care anymore except only louder because church made them feel extra holy somehow whenever they raised their voices louder than everybody else while preaching sermons nobody could understand anyway because they were still trying too hard to sound holy instead of listening or caring about what the words actually meant instead of just hearing them plus using bigger words than everybody else so everybody could tell how special they were compared with other folks who couldn’t even understand the words they were saying out loud.


And Mom said it was just like riding in a car when you’re with somebody who keeps driving faster than everybody else while having to lean harder on the horn than everybody else so that people would move over and let them pass even though there was room for everybody else too.

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