Tag Archives: dreams

Only in My Dreams!

I think after yesterday‘s heaviness, we needs must uplift ourselves with some ’80s radness!  Oh, as if you don’t want to…don’t resist the urge to Running-Man or Cabbage-Patch if need be…

Ah…okay, fan yourself off.  The reason I pulled this little nugget from the cyber archives is to set the theme as I backtrack to the writing prompt about dreams.

The Prompt:

Four posts ago, I mentioned that page 22 of Room to Write asks us to recall a dream:  “It can be a recurring dream, one from childhood, a daydream or a nightmare.”  As we write about it, we should be noticing which portions of the dream sequence evade our memory and which become sharper.  We can fill in any gaps, change, or expand on any of it that we wish.  I’d like to relate a few…


The first dream that leaps to mind is a recurring one that I had as a little kid.  I know exactly where it stemmed from:  a TV ad for a television station that had something to do with the seasons (or “series,” as they say in the UK) of its television programs not yet coming to an end…I don’t know if it was approaching summer re-run time or what, but what I do recall is that my dream was this extended variation of the advert in which I was the woman involved.  I was wearing a peasant dress and being chased by a hunchback all throughout a dark, cobwebby, grey stone castle.  The corridors, evil perils, and my evasive techniques would vary night to night, but every time the dream ended the same way:  the hunchback would corner me at a dead-end.  With my back against the wall and arms outspread, I’d merely repeat the line the woman in the commercial would say (though in my dream, it was probably sheer nonsense coming out of my mouth), and the hunchback would grunt, turn around, and walk away.

A recurring dream I started having later in life involved water.  The situations and story lines were always different, but the water would be there in some form or another.  Sometimes I was on a sinking ship a la Titanic, sometimes I was standing on shore watching a massive tsunami (of Deep Impact proportions) rolling in at me , or water levels for whatever reason would rise gradually inside my home.  In all of them, I had time to stare down my ultimate death and prepare the air to be swept from my lungs.

Adding to the list, I get that typical one in which I lose my teeth.  Whereas the last two dreams recurred within the span of probably one or two years, this particular one with the teeth has resurfaced my entire life.  I don’t always lose my teeth entirely; sometimes they are loose to the point of my knowing it’s only a matter of time.  Again, the story lines of those dreams will vary, but within them my dream-self burns in mortification, as it’s a total blow to my vanity.  I always feel entirely helpless and unable to hold them in place (not to mention terrified what the dental bill is going to come to).

And to conclude the list, yes, when I was a student I would have the dream about having to take an exam I didn’t study for or showing up to class wearing something ridiculous, but the curse of becoming a teacher is that you keep having those dreams!!!  This time, though, it’s that I show up to class without having my lessons planned, or I show up at the wrong classroom on the first day of school, and the students are never very helpful to me in this dilemma.  Since I’m on hiatus from teaching at present, I don’t get these anymore, except that just a few nights ago I actually had one of the more freakishly normal dreams I’ve ever had—nothing bizarre, really…same classroom and students as I really used to have…except that at the end, I broke down sobbing over how much I missed teaching.  (Um, no need to call Freud in to psychoanalyze me on this one…I think Dr. Obvious can take it from here).

Okay, so what would happen if all my recurring dreams decided to recur on me at once?

I’m running through the corridors of the high school…it’s a centuries-old one in the vein of Hogwarts, and I’m late to teach my lesson on Beowulf…today, we are to debate to what degree Grendel’s mother is a sympathetic character, but I haven’t crafted my specific discussion points nor procured enough copies of the text to distribute nor written up or copied the handout nor strategized how to best divide my students up (Individually?  Pairs?  Collaborative learning groups?), and have I differentiated for their multiple intelligences?

I walk into the copy room only to see the photocopier spraying out sheets of study guides as a cluster of frantic teachers scramble to claim and collate their own; there is no solution nor sanctuary here.  Panicked, I pivot on my heel and chase down the hall to an unfamiliar stairwell where I feel and hear the grumbling of a predator:  Grendel!  I trip up on the low hem of my skirts as I jog down the steps, my sweaty palms on the railing exceeding the pace of my slippered feet.  I duck into the dank blackness of a janitor’s closet as I hold my breath to hear ever louder the rattling huffing of another; I will be trapped here if I stay, surely given away by the scent of my perspiration (or dry-erase markers), so my only hope is to dash and pray I do so in enough haste.

With my heart ricocheting off my breastbone like a racquetball in my alarm, I automatically navigate the twists and turns of the school halls, unsure of where to find my classroom and lamenting this loss in last-minute time to prep my lesson—when I arrive at my class, if I live to arrive at my class, alas, I shall have to wing it.  I grind my teeth in anxiety, debating which is the lesser of two evils to occupy my mind away from the putrid, humid breath at my neck, only to find that my top front teeth begin to sway against the bottom ones.  One slips out wetly, grazing my lower lip as it falls and trails bloody saliva down my chin; another tooth three teeth over then gets crunched between my molars before I suck it onto the bed of my tongue to better projectile spit it back at my foe in defense.  By twos and threes, my remaining teeth ease out of my soupy gums, and I try to organize them with my tongue against the roof of my mouth as ready artillery; in rapid-fire, I spray them out, their pale ivory now bloodied pink, and they pelt my pursuer like quail shot.

I’ve bought myself some time.

Up a winding staircase I go, clacking against the polished stone surface, slipping to my knee before recovering quickly and charging onwards toward an upper level corridor open to the air.  Heaving sharply cooler gusts of air through great gasps, I run headlong into the painted cinderblocks of a dead-end.  Hearing the bell sound off, I realize it’s over…First Period has already started, and I’m not there to take attendance in time to send it off to the Main Office.  Truancy slips will be issued, and it will be all my fault.  I press my forehead against the icy surface of the wall and slowly roll my skull around on its pockmarked surface to spin and face my adversary.

And there he is, slightly worser for the tooth-bullets, but still formidable.  He growls in low rumblings with a taloned claw upraised, and I start to tell him something about television reruns when a surge of foaming saltwater blasts through the open windows.  I swallow it along with my words as my body flails for orientation and gives one last spasm in its urgency for oxygen.

As it all bleeds over into black, I think a forever-silenced prayer…that my substitute teacher will not let any of those students side with anyone who would have spawned Grendel.


Um, yup, just as demented as any of my dreams would be.  The spin I’ve taken on this exercise was stupidly fun.  After focusing for as long as I have been on one main, continuous story line for my project, it was rejuvenating to take a random tangent that is not too serious or personal.  I think I’ve dragged this post on long enough, so will bid you good night and crazy, distorted dreams 🙂

Dare to Dream

Page 22 of Room to Write speaks of dreams, as what we recall and record of them can provide a source of material for our creative writing.  Twilight fans may recall that Stephenie Meyer’s entire vampire saga stems from a dream she once had of a vampire falling in love with a mortal girl while laying together in a meadow; in fact, on her website she says, “For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 (‘Confessions’) of the book.”  And yes, I suspect that’s where the sparkling came from, too…maybe she could have edited that part out.

In any case, I have also written a scene shortly after a particular dreaming/waking experience and thought this would be an opportune time to share an except (character names have been substituted):

The sound of traffic outdoors rustled Margaret briefly awake, shattering the meadow of yellow in which she had been reclining before she sank again into REM sleep, tugging her awareness of lying on the sofa back with her into the underworld of dreams.

She could see nothing, for her eyes were closed in sleep even in this realm, but, after an immeasurable length of time, she heard someone enter the room and approach her beside the sofa, hovering over her, looking at her closely.  She could sense other presences, smaller, children it seemed, at least two, also standing there, idle, inspecting.  While they did not touch her, Margaret felt the energy of their presence softly press on her in three areas down the length of her body: her arm, her hip, her thigh.

Her awareness of this became so keen, she began to panic over who may have just let themselves into Ron’s flat, when the door should be locked—it did so automatically upon shutting.  She was terrified to be so vulnerable, laying prostrate in nothing but a bathrobe with not so much as a sharp or heavy object within reach for defense, yet willed her eyes to open in order to stop this if it was in fact a dream, or to confront the invaders if it was not.  Her brain signaled to her eyelids to rise, but a paralysis overwhelmed her body’s senses as if in rigor mortis.  The eerie, monotone childhood chant, “Light as a feather, stiff as a board, light as a feather, stiff as a board,” whispered through her ears as she struggled with her mind to usurp command of her physical self.

Open your eyes, open your eyes, open your eyes.

Her desire was singular, all her power channeled to one narrow focus.

Just move, move.

The effort was tremendous, filled with the futility of one confined with locked-in syndrome, desperate to communicate to any degree again.  Margaret fought the dread that would kill her will and urged herself on.

Move, move.

She became aware of her head, aware of her neck.


Her arms materialized, if only phantom limbs.  She wanted to lift outside of herself, to reach out and grasp the shoulders pinned to the cushion and shake them fervently.

Her chest swelled.  She felt it; it too was still there.  With a breath, she welled with autonomous energy and shook herself.

The lurch of her torso sent a sharp inhale up her nostrils, and the glow of the morning sun ignited her lids.  With a flutter, they opened.

Margaret found herself steaming in sweat, looking at nothing but the blank ceiling, then the wall with its two gaping windows, then her feet still propped on the cognac leather arm.  Slowly, she boosted herself up and pivoted on the sofa to conventional seated position, facing the television on the wall opposite.  To her right was just the empty kitchen, and she craned her neck to view further out into the hall and entryway.  The unit door was closed.  Rotating her skull to loosen the neck muscles, she stared at the empty space between the couch and the table that she had felt so certain was occupied but an infinitesimal fraction of a minute ago.

And in the event that you’re wondering, yes, I do have the uncanny ability to shake myself awake when I’m in the middle of an unpleasant dream that I want to escape.  I don’t know how I do it—I’m sometimes simultaneously dreaming and aware of the fact that I’m dreaming, and I somehow will myself to wake up.  Anyways, that was the exact dream I had as well, which, if didn’t originally inspire my plot, does indeed coincide well with it.  With that, I bid you adieu for today and will follow up with a post freshly addressing page 22’s writing prompt.  In the meantime, sweet dreams 😉

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