Arm

[Alice] and I were part of our school’s musical groups which decided to take a field trip to perform at a very beautiful place, by the looks of which I took to be […] Washington D.C.  It was nighttime when I was scheduled to perform with the orchestra but my right arm was feeling sore.  [Alice’s] father’s arm had recently been amputated and she had it with her, for some reason.  Since my arm was sore, I asked [Alice] if I could borrow her father’s and she consented.  Thus I played through the concert using [his] arm.

Afterwards, I think it was (I’m not sure of the chronology here), I walked from the concert hall around the building until I saw [Alice] standing next to a set of windows, staring outside amongst rows of seats […].  [I] asked her what it was she was looking at out there in the night. […] she said to me, drawing away from the window […], “My father has a job interview today and I’m afraid he’s not going to make it through.  I’m afraid he’s going to show up drunk and he’s not going to make it through, you know, the counting part.”

“Is he here?” I asked, looking out the window.  I saw that the view contained a building with several men gathered around in their suits and ties, holding onto cocktails as they clustered around […].  It seemed to be a business meeting of sorts.  I scanned the men, looking for [Alice’s] father.

“You can’t see him from here […]!” she said to me.  In other words, he wasn’t here in D.C.  I think that I gave [Alice] her father’s arm back and she put it in a refrigerator.  All the while, I held for her a soft drink which had words on the lid saying something along the lines of “He will lend his arm,” or perhaps it was, “He who is strong, kind, nurturing… will lend a helping arm” – some saying such as that.

The next thing I remember was that [Alice] and I were outside, walking through the night air among those white, pillared buildings which were lit with fluorescent, glowing lights that shone a soft illumination in the gentle evening darkness.  There were other students strolling outside after the concert.  We were all walking around a giant, rectangular pool whose calm surface reflected the quiet darkness of the sky above. […]  I said to [Alice] earnestly, “I have to tell you something important, but I have to hurry, because this dream is about to end.”

I can’t remember what it was I meant to tell her. […] But my alarm clock was ringing and I struggled for a moment there between the waking world and the dream world before finally giving in to the world of dreams.

I awoke in my dream because [Alice’s] parents were calling me on the telephone.  It was dark when I sat up in bed to talk to [them] on the other end of the line.  They told me that [Alice] had forgotten where she had left the arm back at D.C. and they were wondering if I remembered.  “Yeah, I remember,” I told them, and resurrected a memory of the beautiful building with all the great, white pillars lit up in night lights – the place where we had left the arm.  My memory scanned through the area – across the wide, glowing steps that led to buildings resembling those of ancient Greece – all glowing in a peaceful, starry night.  “It was in the third house all the way back,” I finished, referring to the arm and its location.  They were going to come to pick me up so that I could give them directions as to where that arm was.  They were planning on driving all the way back down to Washington with me.

I hung up the phone and just sort of [lay] there in bed for a good long while before I remembered they were coming to get me and thus I should get dressed.  I got up but couldn’t seem to find anything to wear, so I threw on a whole jumble of shirts and a pair of cotton shorts that made me feel as though I’d be cold if I went outside.  That’s alright, I figured to myself.  I’d only be out there for a short period of time.  As I was fumbling around, getting dressed, I opened a drawer at the head of my bed and there, encased in ice, sat [Alice’s] father’s arm.  I must have taken it out of the drawer and set it on my bed, on top of all my sheets, for that was where I remembered seeing it next.  It didn’t even look like an arm at all – it seemed more like an odd-looking, clear cup filled with ice, ice-cream, and mint-chocolate chips.  Still though, I was a bit disgusted and taken-aback at what I knew that icy package contained within.  “C’mon, Theresa,” I told myself, “it’s just an arm.”  Looking out the window, I saw that [Alice’s family] had already pulled into my driveway in a silver, sporty car and apparently had already been waiting for me for quite some time.  I did take my time, I thought, and wondered why they hadn’t come to ring my doorbell and hurry me along.  But at least I had the arm and now we didn’t have to drive all the way to Washington to get it.

I picked it up off the bed and carefully brought it down the stairs, stepping outside barefooted onto a ground covered by a thin layer of snow.  I was aware that my parents were sleeping inside the house and that they didn’t know I was awake and out here.  But I’ll only be a second, I thought.  They don’t need to know.  I opened the back door of the car and sat down next to [Alice].  Her younger brother sat on the other side of her while her parents occupied the two front seats, her father at the driver’s seat.  They all turned and greeted me in a most friendly, cheerful manner as I entered the car and handed the arm to the parents.  They were most happy and pleased to have the arm back and they thanked me generously – her father even offering to pay me, taking out a little bag of coins and throwing some money my way.  I refused it, of course – after[ ]all, it was I who had borrowed it in the first place and if anybody paid anybody, it should be [me] […].

“Well, why don’t we drive Theresa to our house,” [Alice’s] mother suggested.  Thus, they did.  It seemed like a rather long drive over.  All I remember was that the parents spoke to each other in a strange, foreign language – exactly the way my parents spoke to each other.  [Alice] leaned forward in her seat and said something to her parents in that same, odd language – the words of which I actually did understand, somewhat.

“[Alice], what language are you speaking!” I asked.

She paused and looked at me out of the corner of her eye as if offended by my half-question half-exclamation.  “Romanian,” she said, as though the answer was obvious.

“Really?” I responded.  ” ‘Cause that’s exactly how my parents talk to each other […] and the funny thing is that I actually understood some of the words!”  I sat back and wondered how this could be, picturing a map of Eastern Europe in my head.  Well, I figured, Romania is very close to where my parents come from (Taiwan), so there would logically be similarities in the language.  I was quite satisfied with my reasoning […].

Finally, we turned into a beautiful housing development that paralleled the Kennewyck development near my house in reality.  We pulled up to [Alice’s] house in her driveway and everyone got out of the car except for her father – he was going to take me back directly and it made me greatly upset […].  I watched as [Alice] walked […] towards her house with her family.

Then, all of a sudden, I was with them, standing on the front porch.  [Alice’s] father gave her mother the keys and told her not to forget to ask me the “big question.”  I remember feeling as though they were going to ask permission to borrow money from my family.  But my family’s poor, I remember thinking.  We wouldn’t be able to give you anything.

Somehow, there came to be a change of plans.  They invited me in to stay for a[]while and I saw that their house was beautiful – filled with all sorts of lovely furniture and lit with a warm, glowing light.  I sat on a stool in the middle of all this and spun around on it to take in all the rooms of the house.  I saw that [Alice’s] mom was holding a new baby and that [Alice] was preparing a bottle for it.  […] – the furniture was new, expensive, and abstract, of all colors, shapes, and sizes, filling the house in such a way that it should have made it cluttered but did not.  It had a real familiar feel to it […].  I spun around on my stool when it hit me.  “Oh my god!  This is [Natalie’s] house!” I exclaimed. […] “Wow, I dunno what’s wrong with me,” I continued, laughing.  “I’m just slow.  I mean, I thought this place looked familiar.”  Of course, [Natalie’s] family had sold their house and [Alice’s family] had first dibs [on] buying it.  With a house like this, I thought, no wonder they’re having financial problems.

I spun around some more on my stool, quite pleased to be where I was.  Once, I glanced down at my legs and was briefly surprised to find myself wearing a warm pair of blue speedos […] instead of the shorts I thought I had put on earlier.

One last thing I’d like to add about this dream.  I remember, when [Alice] and I were in Washington, we were […] outside with a group of other people my age and we all held hands in a single row of about six or seven.  It was in the middle of a large courtyard that we stood, there on the lawn with several trees[,] and parked in front of us was a psychedelic van whose colors were dulled by the night.  We ran towards that van, all holding hands in a row […].  I talked about the concert as I ran forward with the others.  “I mean, it didn’t even feel like I was playing [violin] with someone else’s arm,” I said to the group.  “It’s kind of disgusting if you think about it.”  And then we ran up the side of the van – all of us, in a great rush, just up and over.

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Death in a Gothic Cathedral

I was lying in a large bed next to a middle-aged man that I didn’t recognize.  We were in a […] room that was old and [g]othic […] – the ceiling high and painstakingly chiseled to fine detail.  It was like we were in the center of a […] medieval cathedral.  I [lay], shrouded in shadow.  Then I turned […] away from the man, and saw a dead, young woman lying […] next to me.  Her eyes were open and staring blankly […] while blood spilled from the corner of her mouth onto the pillow.  Her neck was […] bent and broken, a deep gash slicing across […] it, oozing blood […].  […]  I got halfway on top of her, grabbing her […] neck […], and proceeded to strangulate [her].  […]  I stopped – suddenly stunned that I had murdered someone.

Then I woke up […].  The clock read 5:30am.  […] as I drifted back asleep, I listened to my breath hissing […].  Gradually, my breathing began to sound like gasping and each time I gasped, I heard a creaking […] coming from the floor beside my bed – […] as if someone was shifting […].  And then I realized that I wasn’t alone – there was an old woman sitting in a rocking chair […] and the steady creaking […] came from her chair […].  She was dead and transparent […].  She saw that I was afraid of her and a slow smile spread across her […] wasted face, revealing […] withered and yellow teeth. […]

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Die Twice

It was the wee hours just before the break of dawn when I woke […] and sat up in bed in that transparent darkness that fills one’s room in the early mornings.  It was exactly the way I wake up every morning – to that exact same lighting (or lack thereof) – before getting ready […].  I got out of bed and saw that my body was still lying down beneath the covers.  I felt […] light and weightless as I floated to the guest room where I saw my mother sitting on the bed, crying.  I was floating above the ground in front of her, but she didn’t see me.  I called out to her several times before she turned to me – finally seeing me hovering in the air – and gasped.

And then it was as if I was being sucked into the dawning sky – through the ceiling and through the roof – and I felt free but, oddly […] hindered as I flew amongst the gray and deep blue clouds.  I remember liking […] flying through the air, but then I became sad because I never got to do all the things that I had wanted […].

And then I had a […] passing thought that this must all be just a dream and I woke up, sitting up in bed in that familiar darkness just before dawn […].  I was so relieved that it was all just a dream – that, in fact, I hadn’t really died.  I got out of bed, glad to see that I hadn’t left my body behind, and proceeded with my morning routine.  I noticed that the light in my bathroom was on and as I walked in, I saw that my mother was in my bathroom, standing at the sink counter.  My makeup was spread […] in a mess in front of her.

“I’m sorry […],” she said to me, her face expressionless as she stared straight ahead into the mirror.  “But I’m going to have to kill you.”

I pretended like I was okay with it, coming forward cheerfully and putting the makeup away.  But deep down I was crushed and afraid. […]

My mom walked out of the bathroom and into her bedroom where she sat down in the darkness at the edge of her bed.  “I’m sorry,” she said […].  “But I have to do it.  You have to die.”

And I had a sinking feeling […] before I woke […] and sat up in bed, my eyes meeting once again, for the third time, that familiar, translucent darkness just before dawn.  I […] wondered whether or not I was really awake this time.  I turned around to make sure I couldn’t see myself still lying in bed.  I walked out into the hallway and saw that my bathroom light was thankfully off. […] It wasn’t until I finally reached school that I became convinced that this time I really was awake.

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