Last night I had a dream which I woke me, I think, because it stirred such a horrid feeling within me.
I was driving, on our street, heading towards home. Keaton and Cohen were with me, Sharaun wasn’t. As we passed our neighbors’ houses on the way to our driveway I looked out the passenger window and was startled to see a large wild animal loping along the sidewalk in the opposite direction. In the dream the animal was non-specific, as dream-things often are, yet I knew that it was both a) scary and b) man-eating. When I woke I thought maybe it was a hyena or coyote or something, but I don’t think it’s important. Still shocked and now a bit concerned, I made sure to fully close the garage door before thinking about exiting the car. And even though it was clearly headed in the other direction, I checked the mirrors to try and be sure the thing hadn’t followed us in. Once satisfied that we were safely separated I proceeded to take Keaton and Cohen out of the vehicle and head inside.
We weren’t five steps inside the house when I heard it: A gut-wrenching scream from outside. In my dream I knew the scream was from a child, a little girl maybe of eight or nine. I also knew that she was screaming because that animal had found her. Over and over again she said “Oh my God,” and pleaded at the fleshy edge of her screams, “Please! Someone help me! Please! Oh… God!” I froze, not even through the laundry room that separates our house proper from the garage. I had set Cohen down on top of the dryer upon hearing the screams, and Keaton and I stood staring at the wall in the direction of the noise.
I was absolutely terrified. I moved to pull Keaton close to me, but then realized I needed to help this poor girl who was, as I knew from that dream-knowing you get in dreams, being killed by the beast. But I didn’t move right away. I stood there while she called out and I knew the time to intervene was running out. Finally I was able to un-root myself. I told Keaton to stay inside and lock the door behind me and I left Cohen on the dryer in his carrier. I went into the garage and grabbed some heavy metal implement, then I grabbed another and one more still. I opened the garage door to silence.
I was already too late and I knew it. My hesitation cost the girl her life. But I still made a cursory walk of the block, recruiting other neighbors as I went and arming them with the extra shovels and breaker bars and whatever else I brought. I led a circuit search with them behind me eager to help, but I knew that it was of no use. All I could think of was where the thing had drug her body away to, and I remember hoping that we didn’t actually find it on our hunt – it would be too hard to see what I let happen. Because I knew she’d be rent and broken and gone from the world and I knew it was because I failed to act quickly enough.
I awoke with my heart beating fast and I felt utterly ashamed and sad. I’ve languished in the deepest pits of despair over real-life sins of commission, and I swear the dream-inspired shame and sadness over this sin of omission matched it. Sharaun was sitting up in bed next to me feeding Cohen and the room was dark. I told her about the dream and it made me feel better to acknowledge the un-reality of it all in doing so. The feelings slowly lifted out of my chest as the realization that it was all in my head sunk in, and soon I rolled back over to re-join sleep.
Dreams are neat.
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- when are you coming back? - 2009