I did not sleep well last night.
I was dreaming again. I have been cursed or blessed (I’m not sure which) with being able to remember almost all my dreams in photographic detail. Sometimes this is a good thing: a lot of my short stories come from dreams.
Sometimes my dreams are not so good.
Last night, I was dreaming about my birthday. I turn 29 this month; next week actually, on the 22nd of August. Now let it be known that I love my birthday. It’s my day and I don’t have any hang ups about age or aging. I don’t care that I’m turning a year older.
I frequently forget how old I am and have to ask someone to remind me. But for whatever reason, in my dream I was frightened of my 29th birthday. Terrified in fact….
Something (be it age in the form of darkness, wrinkles in a bodily form) was stalking me, hunting me through streets and alley ways and I was doing all I could to get away.
For some reason I was wearing nothing. I ran through the streets naked. I can only wonder if this means I was in my “birthday suit”. I’m sure it has some symbolization, some meaning that I’m supposed to interpret; but I can think of none.
I could hear my hunter getting closer, gaining on me. I ran around a corner and there stood Roy, a friend of my husbands. He smiled when he saw me, no hint of danger on his face.
“Hey Birthday Boy!” he shouted at me.
“Hey,” I replied, breathless.
“Everyone wants to meet you for half priced martini’s at The Lookout.” He said. “How about we go there now?”
I worried about bringing friends and family in contact with the hunter and shook my head. “I’m a little busy now, Roy.”
He nodded and smiled at me. “We’ll meet you there later then. Just come when you’re ready.” He grinned. “I have candles for you. Twenty nine candles. Their flame is bright.”
And then he was gone as if he hadn’t even been there, as if he had been a figment of my imagination. I raced forward and stumbled as I fell into a deep pit.
I looked around me and saw walls of dirt, roots of trees entwining themselves through the muck. I had cuts on my face and hands and could feel the blood running down my face. I smeared some mud over my cuts, hoping that it would cover the smell of blood, so that the hunter could not find me.
I looked around me and saw more dirt, more earth. A shadow fell down into the hole and I looked up at a slab of stone sitting above me, lodged in the grass.
It was my tombstone.
I could barely read the words but, instinctively, I knew what they said. I heard the tune of someone singing softly, and I recited the old nursery rhyme:
Here I lay me down to rest,
A pile of books upon my chest.
If I should die before I wake,
that’s one less test I’ll have to take.
I moaned, a guttural sound, a sound of fright. An inhuman sound and I marveled at the fact that it was coming from me, from the very pit of my stomach.
I heard screaming then, the sounds of terror and pain and I knew that the hunter was slaughtering everyone I knew, everyone I loved.
I could hear my mother screaming for me, I could hear my husband muttering my name softly. I knew I had to act, I knew that I had to do something, that I had to climb out of my grave and face the hunter and defeat it.
I grabbed hold of tree roots that were sticking out of the dirt, grabbed hard and began to pull myself up, digging my feet into the wall of dirt, pushing myself up with my legs, using everything I had.
I had to reach the top alive, I had to….
I woke to a sharp, shooting pain and I know I cried out.
My leg was spasming, my entire left leg, from the tips of my toes to the back of my buttocks. I reached out and touched it and drew my hand back instantly. Pain flared where I touched my leg.
I sat up, breathing deeply and looked over at my husband. He still slept. How could he sleep through all that? How could he…?
And I woke a little more then, knew that everything had been in my head, that the pain had woken me but not him.
I struggled to sit up more, to swing my legs around and put my feet on the floor. I hobbled (there is no other word for it) to the bathroom and sat on the toilet, hoping the cool, cold tile would help my leg, that its coolness would soothe it. I resisted the urge to lie down on its surface knowing I might not be able to get up again.
I held back tears and another cry as more pain flashed it’s way across my skin. I could feel my leg rippling, moving, voicing its protest at such a nuisance. It was beyond anything I had experienced before.
I hobbled to the sink and rinsed my face with cold water and went back to bed, trying to get comfortable but that was next to impossible. Not wanting to be left out of the action, my back rippled and undulated in response, as if it were answering a mating call.
I let sleep claim me once more and thankfully it was dreamless. I hoped that my leg would be healed in the morning. My hope was not answered.
Making my way to work this morning, I tripped a total of eight times. Several people stared at me, one pointing me out to her friend with a smirk, and I felt myself grow hot, my face flushed.
Even now, sitting here, my leg is a stone leg, a pillar of knotted muscle. The knots and the pain, a lingering sensation of discomfort, are making their way up to my thigh and beyond.
I stand and walk around to relieve the pain but then I have to sit because I can’t stand, I can’t support myself with my left leg. But then I have to stand again in a few minutes. It is a very painful game of musical chairs with music only I can hear.
I look at my bottle of Motrin IB and wonder if it’s too soon for two more white tablets. I wonder how they will taste with coffee.
I look at the clock and count down until I can take two more and concentrate so that my pain does not show on my face.