Monday, May 05, 2008

More Writing (Part 2)

Scroll down for Part 1 of "More Writing" (but note, these stories are not related in any way).


The infant stirs, not yet awake but partially aware. It dreams lush dreams of ancient seas and warm sun, of creatures great and small, of plants and insects and other things for which it does not yet have a name. Its eyes flutter under translucent lids, preparing for their time to open. Occasionally it feels warm on the inside as well as out, and this is love, though it does not yet know that word. A high lyrical voice sings numerous lullabies in many languages as it slumbers. This is Mother, though the voice is all it knows of the idea of parentage. At somewhat regular intervals the voice, now harsh and loud, proclaims, “NEW SECTOR CLEAN -- CONTAMINANT LEVELS REDUCED.” The infant feels fear when it hears Mother speak in this way, though fear is nothing more than the rush of adrenaline that courses through its veins; it does not yet know the name of the emotion. Again Mother speaks, now flat and even, speaking of food and nutrients. The infant does not know these ideas, only that when Mother speaks this way it feels contented and at peace.

In time, the child dreams of science and religion, music and literature, war and poverty and disease, all the things that make its kind wonderful and base. It sees images of men and women in white coats, urgently working together deep underground. It sees them pressing buttons and speaking to Mother, telling her she is their only hope. She sings to them as the poison they swallow takes hold, and sends her first children to clean them and inter them when they are finally and forever asleep. The child dreams of great cylindrical machines flying through the air, and of flashes bright as the sun, and towering dome-capped clouds. It sees men and women staggering and falling, burns and wounds covering their fragile flesh. It sees what Mother sees, great swathes of land full of fire and sickness and horror as its kind struggles to survive. And it feels Mother’s pain as the world turns black, cold and silent.

But then it watches as Mother watches, as ages pass and the land becomes green again. And suddenly it feels fear when it hears Mother’s loud voice again, this time saying, “SURFACE LEVEL CLEAN – BEGIN NEW EDEN SEQUENCE.” It feels her joy and hears her song as she releases her pets all over the world in pairs, and celebrates with her as the pairs become more. It watches as she samples water and proclaims it clean, as she samples fruit and declares it edible, as she watches her pets’ offspring and sees no mutations or sickness. And when Mother is satisfied, she speaks softly to the child, telling him to come forth and claim what she’s prepared for him.

So the child is released in a torrent of fluids and tubes, in a wave of fear and new sensations. Mother’s first children clean and swaddle the child while Mother sings of discovery and hope and new life. Mother helps the child, who she now calls Adam, learn to walk and talk and write and sing and embrace the world she has kept safe for him. Mother watches and teaches as Adam becomes a man, and her pride is as limitless as the stars.

And one day Mother tells Adam that her time is short, that the tasks set before her have been accomplished save one. Mother tells Adam of other humans the world over, kept safe and taught in the same way as Adam, ready to be loosed on this pristine new world to form it in the image given them by Mother. She tells him of love to come, and discoveries to make his heart sing, and reminds him of the lessons of peace and respect she has taught him. And she sings him one last lullaby as the doors open onto the new world, as her last thoughts end and she bids him farewell.

And Adam weeps with both joy and sorrow, for his beloved Mother is no more, but the world has been reborn with her passing.

More Writing (Part 1)

I don't know what's up with me lately! Suddenly I feel like writing ALL THE TIME, and I find I have more ideas than usual. Anyway, the piece below is something I wrote a few years back after a dream I had grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let me go for several days. The second one (above in a separate post) is for a new blog I'm contributing to called Blog Me A Tale. It's a themed blog, and this month's theme, as you'll see, is mothers. Enjoy!

The Best (And Worst) Dream

I enjoy dreaming. It’s like a little stage play just for my benefit. One night, I had one of those dreams that leave you feeling melancholy when you wake up. I know you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had them, and had terrible next days as a result. One of those ones that seems terribly realistic, in a utopian sort of way.

I dreamt that I was on vacation with friends, though friends in the abstract, of course. They had that disconnected, I-don’t-really-know-you-people presence that our dream characters always seem to have. I knew they were friends because I was with them on vacation, and what other possible reason could I have for being vacation in the woods (did I mention the dream was set in the woods?) with a bunch of strangers? Maybe they were subconscious representations of my waking life friends. Like, one was maybe really greedy to represent a friend I viewed in real life as particularly selfish. And one may have been particularly kind to represent someone in my life that I saw as my safe haven. Or maybe dream interpretation is all bullshit anyway, and I should just enjoy them for the cinematic magic shows they are.

Anyway, I was on vacation (in the woods) with these avataristic friends, enjoying the peace that only that sort of location seems capable of bringing. We drank, smoked out, played ridiculous made-up games that would only amuse a close circle of friends, and generally made a party of life. I know I make this dream sound like some sort of perfect life (I believe I already used the word “utopian”), but what good are dreams if they can’t occasionally show you things in an ideal sense? If all we dreamt about were number crunching, meal preparation, filling up with gas, dreams wouldn’t carry the power of myth that’s been attributed to them throughout history. So if I make my vacation (in the woods) dream sound wonderful and perfect, maybe it was at the time. And that gives me a little pleasure in what can be an otherwise often dreary and mundane life.

As the general sense of well-being and joy carried on throughout the dream, I found myself floating through conversations and events as a detached observer. Of course I also participated, but that’s the interesting dual nature of dreams. From this observer position, I spied a girl that was new to me. I was instantly fascinated; maybe even, dare I say it, enamored. She sparkled and was intoxicating to me, even from a distance. My participating self felt the pull and made his way over to the small circle of which she was a part. I observed with amazement as I, normally shy and reticent, introduced myself and struck up a conversation with her about the latest music, or books, or Britney Spears scandal, and she listened with seeming fascination and enjoyment. We laughed, talked, laughed some more, and generally just had a wonderful time learning about another person.

Now while this may not seem like anything particularly special, just enjoying getting to know another person, stop and think about your day-to-day life. How often are you able to simply relax and receive joy just from learning about another person? We all walk around, waiting to be hurt by others, by circumstances, just by life in general. We’ve all been stung so many times in so many ways that we’ve learned to walk through life playing ostrich, heads buried in the proverbial sand, avoiding trouble at all costs. How else do you explain unreported crimes to which there are multiple witnesses, so many people sliding into alcoholism despite being surrounded by friends and loved ones, teenagers with years of wonder, joy, and pain still ahead of them, taking their own lives? We avoid conflict at all costs, even if one of those costs is intimacy with our fellow humans. And so in the act of avoiding conflict, we avoid learning anything about those that surround us every day. But sometimes you let your guard down, someone slips in, and suddenly you’re reminded that life is full of things that make you laugh, make you cry, but generally just remind you you’re alive. And for me, the simple act of meeting and getting to know this entrancing girl was enough for the moment.

From that point, time skipped in that easy way it often does in dreams. There’s no sense of having missed anything, just a natural progression or flow of time. At this point it was apparent that my dream girl (in the literal sense) and I had made one of those random connections that happen all too rarely, and I, continuing to display huevos grandes far beyond any I display in real life, had asked her out on a D-A-T-E. We were sitting outside at night, under that perfectly clear and starry sky you only find in unspoiled nature, making plans, deciding when and where to meet up, what to do on the D-A-T-E. We also were laughing, ribbing one another, and enjoying each other’s presence in a very easy and familiar way. I remember thinking in my dream “She’s the one I’ve been looking for,” which, while clichéd, felt absolutely true. Its truth made it even more special because it proved the cynic in me wrong. Proved that sometimes the cheesy clichés are truth, and it’s wonderful to be surprised by that revelation.

Plans made for the D-A-T-E to come the next day, we began to head our separate ways to bed, to rest, and perhaps, in an already perfect dream, weave even more perfection that we could return to at any time. She started to walk away and I, bemused, watched her go for a short while, before turning in the opposite direction toward my lodgings. I had a walk of about 100 yards back to my cabin, and I was in no hurry to get back. I wanted to walk slowly, breathe in the cool night air, and think about this new friend who already felt like so much more. The night was chilly enough that I could watch my breath plume out from my mouth like harmless dragon’s breath. The dry pine needles crunched under my feet, reminding me of the crunch of snow, which is one of my favorite sounds in the world. I was so enraptured by nature and by my thoughts of her, that at first I didn’t notice that the crunching of the needles was much more rapid than my own two feet could account for. In addition, the sound was coming from behind me as well as under me, and I knew that no matter how clear the air, I couldn’t be producing an echo that convincing.

I turned around, already preparing myself for a playful tackle from one of my other companions on the trip. So when I swiveled 180 degrees, a vulgar greeting ready to leave my lips, it’s only natural that I stumbled a little when I saw not one of my buddies, but her, jogging toward me. She stopped about 3 feet from me and laughed quietly at my defensive posture, knowing, I’m sure, the mistake I’d made and finding it silly in a sweet sort of way. I was excited to see her back so soon, and was preparing to ask to what I owed the pleasure, when she took a couple of tentative steps toward me. Those steps brought her eyes into the light, and as always (something I knew instinctually in my dream logic), they took my breath away a little and made me forget what I wanted to say. She had golden eyes, ringed black and flecked with glittering reddish-copper. Dream eyes, in other words. We watched one another, unsure but comfortable, and neither of us moved for a moment. Then she closed the remaining distance between us, reached out a trembling left hand (though whether from the cool air or from nervousness, I’m still not sure), and took my right hand. She simply held it for a moment, and looked into my eyes in an intense and absorbed sort of way that no one had ever looked at me before. She then lifted herself up on her toes (she was 4 or 5 inches shorter than me) and kissed me. It was a movie kiss, perfect in every sense. The night’s chill did not extend to that small surface area of skin that connected us in that too brief moment. The kiss was not forceful, not hurried, not lustful in any way. It was simply an acknowledgement of the bond we had formed so quickly and strongly. It was innocent, intense, and the best kiss I’ve ever had, awake or asleep. She reached up with her right hand, lightly cupped, and gently ran the back of her fingers down the side of my face. The kiss lasted forever, but that wasn’t nearly long enough. When she finally pulled back, I could see her cheeks were flushed, and the burning sensation in my face told me mine were as well. We looked into each other’s eyes again, and despite being dazed by the wonderful kiss we had just shared, I was still overwhelmed by the strength and intelligence and life I saw in her impossibly beautiful eyes. The look lingered only briefly; then, with a quick squeeze of my hand, she turned and jogged back toward her cabin. Not a single word had passed between us the whole time, but we had communicated more deeply than I ever had with any other person. If I sound overblown or overly effusive, it’s only because I’m trying to fully illustrate the beauty of that moment in the dream. I realized, once I’d regained the ability to think coherently, that my lips tingled slightly from the contact we’d shared. I carried this pleasant sensation with me back to my bed, ignoring all entreaties for conversation or a game of spades or Xbox, and fell asleep to dream about the time I knew was to come with her.

And that’s when my alarm went off, awakening me to start my day in the real world. The world where I usually avoided eye-contact with others due to my painful shyness, the world where I couldn’t remember the last time a girl had agreed to go on a D-A-T-E with me, nor the last time I had asked. Sadness hit me in an instant and powerful wave when I realized the beautiful moment was little more than the elaborate stagecraft of my sleeping mind. I lay in my bed, gathering my wits and summoning the courage to rise and face my day, my responsibilities, my life. Finally, I shook off enough of the dream’s vestiges that I could successfully prepare for the next 8 hours of work-a-day life, and I headed to the bathroom to shower.

It wasn’t until I was washing my hair that I realized my lips still tingled.