My brain had a mental field day on me last night, throwing me into nightmare after nightmare. And my nightmares, they’re not bad dreams. They’re more like night terrors, the sorts of terrors that people with PTSD report.
I don’t like my nightmares. They’re vivid. Real. I have, in the past, woken up and been unable to determine if something was real or not. I have held grudges for slights that have occurred during dreamtime, simply because it was so real, so true, so believable. Often my only clue to the reality (or not) of a terror is whether I am wrapped in my sheets.
My dream logic works like daily logic. When I touch someone, in a dream, I can feel their skin under mine, the roughness of an unshaved face, the stickiness of blood. I can hear their voice, delight in laughter, the pain with wet tears. Sheets pulled up to my shoulders, heads resting on shoulders, bodies touching, legs twined. Sunlight and darkness, fire, heat and pain.
Last night, they progressed like they always do. Normal dreams slide sideways, become clearer, more everyday life. Sitting with friends, working, chitchatting and switching seamlessly from work to play and personal life and back again. The sort of thing so normal, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t true. But then my brain begins to ramp things up, bringing up issues, problems, and accelerating them, making them bigger, worse. I went from lazily tracing patters in condensation on a fish tank, lazily talking about life with friends, to escorting a friend to his hotel room, only to return later to find him dead, by his own hands, in the bathroom.
I can clearly see myself kneeling next to the body, cradling head in my lap, hands sticky and wet with blood.
That dream slid again, rewound, replayed, only this time I got there earlier in the dream, early enough to make a difference, to change how it plays out, and it does, but ends equally disconcerting. I have dried away his tears, my heart insists this to be true.
And then the violence, anger, mutilations, fires and all the below surface fears come roaring forward, situating themselves logically, becoming dreamed experiences so hard to discern from the real. I wake up with days, a lifetime, of new memories that must be sifted and thrown away.
I’m tense today, waiting to hear from people, if they’re okay. To see those that I can, and verify for myself that they are fine, and it was all just a nightmare. Just a bad dream. To touch them, solid warmth beneath my hands.
And it will be weird, because my hands have memories that don’t exist.