A Witch at Table Two

in writing •  last year

A story about my husband's mesmerizing dream life

I got married in October to a man I love very much, a walker, a reader, a talented writer, a geography and map lover, a brewer, a poker player, a bit of a prepper, and in the summer a back-deck griller, hammock swinger, and my fellow gardener, @preparedwombat.

We live in Minnesota, so even though it is Spring, there is still snow on the ground here, more expected soon. When that is gone, my man is going to turn his hand toward log splitting a silver maple we had felled a year and a half ago. @preparedwombat is also an avid Steemian, which tells you something about why the silver maple is still a tumble of logs and not a nice pile of firewood. But I live in faith.

In my posts here on Steemit, I have alluded once or twice to one of the things about my husband I find most fascinating, his dream life. Knowing how much I like to hear about his dreams, most mornings he gives me a lavish report of where he has gone and who he has been. It is a bedtime story flipped on its head. Morning not night, told upon waking rather than on going to bed, and not from a book but spun from the interplay of his psyche, his memories, and whatever we had for dinner the night before. I snuggle in close and get the latest installment of what has been going on in my beloved's brain while sleep parted us.

An Ocean of Pickles

This dream takes place on a huge oceangoing vessel. Rough seas rock the ship back and forth, threatening to pull it apart. The ship creaks and groans as it rolls in the waves. Those on board have gathered inside behind a massive door, big enough for an airplane hangar. They yell and scramble and try to organize their efforts to keep the door in place and keep the ocean out. But as the ship pitches and rolls and waves crash against the door sending water in over the top and around the sides, he notices it isn't water crashing in on all sides but cucumbers, light green cucumbers. Ocean = Briny deep? Throw cucumbers in brine and you get pickles? I don't know if brine was the grist his sleeping mind turned into this dream, but it seems possible. This is one of the more straightforward ones.

Clown Car

To see the themes at play in this dream, you must know two things, first, that I drive a Kia. Second, you must know that until he met me and moved out to the suburbs, my husband was a confirmed urbanite. While he was raised in lovely rural New Jersey himself, since college and until we moved in together, a period of more than four decades, the city was his home. He went to college in the city, worked in the city, bought a house and raised a son in the city. His brother still lives in the city and while he is happy to visit us out here in the 'burbs, he shakes his head ruefully at the wrongheadedness of suburban life—a sentiment my husband shared for many years and would likely still espouse, if he hadn't espoused me.

In this dream, my husband is on a city street when a Kia approaches and drives past. It heads into heavy traffic and he follows on foot. He tries to reach the car, crossing streets and dashing in front of taxis and buses. The traffic gets heavier and heavier, the Kia driving further and further ahead. He stops, realizing he isn't going to catch up to the Kia. He has been pursuing it thinking it was me but realizes it couldn't be me because I wouldn't drive away from him like that (too right). He stops pursuing the car and turns to walk the other direction. As he turns, the street is suddenly transformed, smells of oil and road tar and exhaust are gone, honking and engine noise gone. The street is quiet, residential, serene, except for a brightly colored clown car headed down the street in the other direction.

So, what? If I’m am not the Kia driving into the city, I am the clown car driving into the suburbs? And is it a good clown car that makes you happy, or a foolish clown car full of, you know, clowns? Are the clowns the happy kind from the ice cream cone box or the evil kind from nightmares? Because things got pretty and peaceful when he turned to find the clown car, I choose to believe this clown car is the happy kind. The other kind is quite possible in his dream life though, as it is for all of us. It can be dark and edgy in there, or worse. Not only good and explicable things happen. With the clown car though, I'm going to believe it’s the happy kind.

A Witch at Table Two

This dream begins in an urban bistro. He is dining alone, sitting on a padded bench seat against the wall, an unoccupied chair across a little table from him. Though not very crowded when he sat down, the restaurant is filling up quickly. Soon all the little tables are filled, and people sit cheek by jowl on the bench seat that lines the walls or perched on the little wood chairs opposite. The waitress leads in a party of older women, two in their 60's, and one woman in her 80's. The group is seated directly to his left and speaks in some language my husband does not know. The 80-year-old is seated directly beside him, a little too close for comfort. She is so close their arms are touching. He tries scooting a little to his right, but it is too crowded and there is nowhere to scoot. She is quite elderly, and he is a gentleman, so he lets her lean a little.

Suddenly, quick as lightning, she reaches her arm inside his arm. From his shoulder to his wrist, through jacket and sleeve, into skin and inside bone, right down inside his arm, which burns with intense heat. He is pinned to her weirdly for a few seconds, startled to speechlessness, an uncomfortable burning in his arm, but not enough pain to make him cry out. Then just as suddenly, she extracts her arm from his and looks at him directly in the eyes as commotion breaks out and the police are called.

A police woman enters looking more like an English bobby than an American cop. She questions the woman in the same language the three crones have been speaking. As the police woman questions those present, three things become clear. First, the elderly woman intended no harm and may have been trying to give my husband something, possibly some kind of protection. Second, it is clear from the faces and gestures of the police woman, the 80-year-old and her companions, that she is slightly crazy. Third, in the world of this dream, it is clear that magical people abound. So, in the end, what is remarkable is not that a witch and her party were seated beside him in a restaurant, or that the witch reached inside his arm, or tried to impart some charm or gift, but that she did it without his consent, and was off her rocker as well, dingy, a bit crazy. And there the dream ends, without resolution, in that way that dreams are so adept at ending, asking questions we didn't even know we had inside us.

Nine Lives Minus One

My husband dreams vivid, bizarre dreams that he remembers nearly every night. I could, literally, go on all day. But let's look at just one more.

My dog Bacci loves me. I hand fed her kibble when she was still small enough to fit in a lap, and I have always given her lots of love and attention. But when my husband joined our household, her affections were forevermore split. She loves me, but simply adores him. He purchases her love, the scoundrel, one biscuit at a time, every time he returns from work or the grocery store. He walks in the door and gives her a biscuit, each little snack edging me further out of her heart. This has not been a fair fight, but unwilling to see the dog get any fatter, I have conceded defeat. He is, bar none, her favorite human. But while he is very fond of the dog as well, he has no use for cats, particularly one of the two gray and white tabby cats that live with us. One of the cats belongs to my son, the other to my daughter. These things you have to know going into this dream.

The dream begins in a large space, so big it isn't clear if he is indoors or outdoors. The floor is made of wood, but the wood is cut into all sorts of elaborate shapes, like a finely crafted kid's puzzle. There are pieces in the shapes of giraffes and bears and cats, squares and clovers, simple circles and dodecahedrons. Many of the puzzle pieces are in place in the floor, many are not. Below the floor is space, just space, with a light breeze blowing up through any hole that does not yet have a piece placed in it. People stand on this floor alone or in groups, puzzling about the puzzle floor, holding pieces in their hands and trying to find their places in the floor. It is not clear what holds up the floor that all these people are standing on, nor what prevents a piece from dropping through into space once it is put in its place.

When someone gives up on a piece, they throw it into the corner. How there is a corner in so large and open a space is unclear, but this is Dreamland, and anything goes. At one point, he gives up on a piece and tosses it into the corner. By the time it lands, it is something much bigger than a puzzle piece, very heavy, but soft. What leaves his hand as a puzzle piece lands hard on an orange tabby cat that was sitting in the corner, crushing the cat's hind quarters. The cat looks at him with hatred in its eyes, reaches around with its paw, picks itself up by the tail and shakes itself out, like someone snapping the wrinkles out of a sheet. Then it disdainfully licks its paw a few times and ambles angrily away, as able bodied as ever.

Outside Dreamland, my kid's cats are particularly oblivious when choosing where to sit, preferring to position themselves somewhere inconvenient for humans. At the top of the stairs to the laundry room when the light is out is a particularly popular spot, or right in front of the stove when you are trying to cook. I think my husband who is 6'4", much bigger than the cats and not terribly attuned to their personal safety, is afraid that he will accidentally step on one someday, crushing it and alienating its owner, my son or my daughter. I think the thing that gets thrown into the corner in the dream ("something big and heavy, not like a cinder block, more like a rolled-up carpet") is his foot. It seems fairly clear that his mind was playing around with his fear of crushing one of our cats, but the puzzle floor? You've got me.

That happens a lot in his dreams. A portion will seem so clearly connected to his waking life, but the backdrop or some of the circumstances are so ethereal, so unbound by the rules of any waking universe. It keeps me ever eager for the next chapter.

images from pixabay

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Those are some crazy dream adventures. I'm usually just getting chased by zombies.

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He insists that everyone dreams like this. I tell him no. Not so much. I didn’t even go into some of the people he has been. Me? I am always me in my dreams, reliably me. But not him. He can wake up having been anyone.

Oh, this really makes me wish I could remember more of my dreams. Mine are like: the toast burned. I love this post. I almost wondered if I hadn't taken some kind of psychedelic drug before reading it. That @preparedwombat of yours really does have an active mind!

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My man rides the Psychedelic Night Train, that is for sure. No drugs involved, just a brain that likes to travel. It sounds so free to me. To wake knowing that last night you had the experience of being completely fluent in Vietnamese, conducting high stakes political conversations and feeling lucky to have gotten the language down so perfectly. Wouldn't that be great?!

Thanks for reading and commenting.

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It would indeed!

Oh my goodness! His sound just about as crazy as mine! Maybe, anyways... D:

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Sounds like a post to me! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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You're welcome! And I don't know, I think I post enough as it is! :P

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True. You’re not exactly casting about for grist for the mill are you. Happy Steeming!

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AGH! You inadvertently referenced a song I love <3
Sorry. Goodness, Happy Steeming to you too!!

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What song?

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It's called "Grist for the Malady Mill" by mewithoutYou. It's literally the reason I started writing music.

Hi @ducksaplenty. WOW - simply inspiring. Will definitely share this to my 700+ followers. Thank you

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Thanks. It’s fun. Kind of like my own little (well not so little) movie theater of the mind.

Wow lol.. Steem on :D