My hopes of a dreamless sleep were futile at best. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. But I still wished for it. The world coalesced into the unfamiliar room. The painting of a tree with a stary skin on the wall. It was ever unchanging except except that one picture it always seemed different like it was real.
The single word was loud on the wind. “Monster” echoed in my head. It echoed in my bones. I could feel it reverberating inside me. The world named me monster and yet the picture called to me – home. But the words monster drew me away to the darkness. Today I didn’t want to play with the block. I wanted to find the darkness, but it wouldn’t come. I wanted the pain. I needed to feel the pain. I hated myself. I hated my mother. I hated my father. Everything hurt.
I fell down and curled into a ball and cried. I was 5 I cried like I was 5. I hated it. My mother had just died. She’d hated me as she’d done so. Wouldn’t let me say good-bye. Never told her I loved her even though she was a horibble person. Didn’t tell her I forgave her.
I don’t know how long I stayed in that ball crying but long enough the tears had gone dry. I heard footsteps in my dream. I knew it was a dream. I knew …
“There you are.” The familiar voice said. But yet I’d never actually heard it. I didn’t uncoil from the ball and I knew the tears started to flow again as he drew near.
He knelt down and asked, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
The images of my mother dying, of her throwing me away, of every bad thing that accumulated into this moment rushed forward but I said nothing. “Why do you always forget you aren’t this little boy anymore?”
My voice was ragged with crying as I answered. “I’m always this little boy.”
“But you are 19. I know you are. You can’t be this little anymore. I’ve seen you for too long unless you aren’t a real little boy.”
“I’m real.” I whined.
“Prove it then.” He challenged.
I grew up. I didn’t become me. I took the guys of some random fillin on a commercial I’d seen with Rider and Laker. I’d thought he was cute.
He smiled. “That’s better.” He took me by the hand and laid down pulling me against him. “I can do this without feeling like an old lecher.” He joked.
I couldn’t help but smile. We were not laying on the floor, we were in a bed. A soft encompassing bed. I could probably float away on it if I tried. It smelled of home – but everything with him always smelled like home. But I didn’ t know him. He was a dream. A wish.
I curled up against him and let go of everything. I wanted to cry but there were no tears left. I wanted to scream by my voice wouldn’t sound. He kissed me softly on the lips then whispered, “You want to talk about it?”
I shook my head. And he pulled me closer. “Then I’ll talk. Are you still in Ward?”
I nodded. My brain couldn’t wrap around the question. I was lost in the pain. Lost in the anger and hatred and yet here he was comforting me like a lover, a friend, family. But he didn’t know me.
“I still to far away. I won’t make it to you before you are off again.”
I looked up at him, “Again?”
“I came once to see you but you were off to California to fight wildfires with the rangers.”
“But you are just a dream?” I said confused.
“I’m not. I’m real. I’m a man just like you.”
“How…” I sighed. I didn’t need to think on in it. I didn’t want to think on it.
He pulled me against him and smiled. “I’ll prove it to you. There’s a lodge in the woods.” He drew a map on the ceiling – it wasn’t so much a map as a real map. He pointed at a place not far from here. “In room 3C under the bed there is a loose floor board. And a box full of things. Inside you’ll find a silver zippo lighter with cowboy boots on it, a watch with a black face and a leather band, and a shard of twisted metal among other things, but those are the three easiest that I can describe. Do you think you can remember that?”
I shrugged. “I usually only remember the dreams I wake up from.”
He smiled at me as he sat up. “I’m sorry to do this. But I want you to remember. I’m real.” He shoved me out of bed and yelled, “Wake UP!”
I opened my eyes and I was staring at my own ceiling on the floor of my room in Boulder. Fuck! The dream was fading but I grabbed my pencil and started sketching the details… It may have been a dream but it felt so real.