A short story by Doug Van Slembrouck
December 10, 2007
Sometimes, the doors open for me, and I can just walk in, enjoy the dream, walk out.
Lately though, the doors into dream open right in the middle of a normal activity, and I find myself in the dream world, stuck in a strange and sometimes horrible situation
In this case, I was playing Meow Meow with our cat, while my wife was getting dressed for our evening out in the next room.
I loved this cat. My wife and I found him during a trip to the Keys, and he had lived with us in our sunny Florida home ever since. He was always waiting for us when we got home from work, and he made our small family complete. Meow Meow was a game that he and I invented where he would wander into the room, look up at me and Meow. I would then Meow back at him, and this exchange would continue until he got bored and walked away, at which point I would yell ‘I won!’ and thrust my fists in the air.
This time though, I fell asleep on the sofa after just one Meow.
In the dream, I was in my office, the usual glare of several LCD screens looking at me. I could hear my parents in the next room, talking about me. My wife, although not my wife because she had black hair and glasses, was standing behind me, her hand on my shoulder. I knew this was a dream right away, because I hate when she does that. I could hear my parent’s arguing getting louder and louder, and they were complain about me.
Finally, it got too much to bear and I got up, walked into the room, and was yelling at them ‘I can Hear you!! I am right here!!’
As soon as I walked into the room, I was back in Gramma’s house. White shag carpet in the living room, green astro-turf carpet in the family room. The rooms were filled with all sorts of creatures, each an even more terribly scary thing from some dark part of my mind. The monster that living under my bed in our first house was tearing the walls down. The shark that lived in Silver Lake during our summers there was swimming up and down the stairs. When I crossed the room, the bully from second grade looked up from smashing the front windows, and yelled ‘GET HIM!’.
I was being chased down flight after flight of stairs. They went on forever. I hate being chased. But it didn’t stop, I constantly felt like they were right behind me. As I rounded yet another corner, I could hear someone calling my name.
I woke with a start and sat up on the sofa. wow, just a bad dream. The cat walked across my lap, turned around a few times, and lay back down.
‘Just a dream, buddy, just a dream.’ I said.
I looked around the room. The late afternoon sun was pouring in through the large bay window, flooding the bookshelves that lines the walls. The shelves were covered with pictures of my wife and I, smiling from trips to Europe, out west, holidays, our first anniversary, my graduation from law school. Our south Florida home was small, but it was filled with live. Every day here was sunny and bright, and we spent our free time either in the ocean, or out on the town with friends. In the other corner of the room, my guitars sat waiting for my daily practice.
I could hear my wife in the next room. I glaced at the clock, getting a little late. ‘You almost done, Hon, we have to get going. I turned my head and glanced down the hallway. I could just see her beautiful face in the bathroom mirror.
I looked back down at the cat on my lap. ‘Welp, Gotta get up buddy’, I said, and scratched his ears.
He looked up at me, jumped across the room, did a backflip onto the recliner, and turned into a tall man in a cowboy hat. ‘You’re telling me’, he said.
Before I could open my mouth to answer, the room melted and vanished.
I woke up.
The house was dark.
Cold rain was pouring down through the dark sky.
November in Michigan.
I got out of my bed, and crossed the living room, the wood floors creaking under each step.
No bookshelf of pictures, I travel too much for work to decorate.
No wife, I’ve been divorced for years now
No cat, I live alone.
No guitars, I quit playing years ago.
I walked into the kitchen, poured myself a water, and drank it down.
Sighing, I reached up to turn the light off.
Before I did, I looked at the large photograph, the only one I ever put up, hanging in the living room. It was a photo my family, all dressed in blue shirts, smiling on a warm fall day, brilliant leaves in red and orange all over the ground.
Through all my changes, through all my thinking that I have life figured out, through all my dreams in dreams, and waking up to this reality, after walking through random doors into, there is only one thing that has been there, and always will be.
You get old, your expectations change, your understanding of reality changes, but family, this family, is always there.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.