We were told to work on something of our own choice for this week's assignment, but to include a dream sequence.
I awaken disoriented. Still entangled in my night world, but pushed into the day world by an anguished cry. One I realize is mine the minute Marv rolls toward me with a rare look of concern on his face. Caught between worlds, I long to go back, hoping this time to change the outcome of my recurring baby dream. The magnetic pull of Marv’s attention is too strong though, and I’m pulled forward instead.
My body moves into the familiar circle of my husband’s arms before my brain has the chance to refuse the comfort of his warm embrace, and he surprises me again by pulling me even closer and holding on. One hand moves up to my head, stroking strands of sweaty hair away from my flushed face. I allow myself to melt into the rhythm of his soothing, still not fully in either world.
Marv whispers into the predawn shadows above my head. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”
My head offers a number of responses to his questions, none of which my relaxed and comforted body is willing to risk.
No I’m not okay you asshole. I’m never going to be okay again. And yes I’m hurt. Hurt worse than you could ever possibly imagine. If I knew how to make you feel this pain, pain that you inflicted, you would never sleep again.
“It was a just a bad dream,” I say. I feel his body tense ever so slightly, but he doesn’t pull away. I want him to ask. I won’t tell him if he doesn’t. I will tell him if he does, even knowing that telling will send his body out of bed and his attention far beyond my reach.
“It must have been pretty bad for you to cry out like that.” Is that fear I hear in his voice? Does he worry about me? Does he care?
I take one more tentative step onto this path, without committing to it fully. “I’ve had this dream before. It never gets any easier. This one was the worst, though. It felt more real than anything I’ve ever experienced.” Will he ask now? Do I really want to do this and ruin the first intimate embrace we’ve had for months? Do I really want him touching me this way?
The tension in Marv’s body increases and then manifests in a very specific hardness pressing against my leg. Without permission, my body moves to eliminate any remaining space between us. And then it opens to receive him as he pushes me onto my back and under his body, until we’re in his favorite missionary position. Words hide in the shadows, driven away by the urgent hunger of our bodies. Thoughts can’t form as the hormones of passion and release wash over my brain.
With the most primitive part of my being in complete control, and Marv’s uncharacteristic intensity, my orgasm comes quick, powerful and before his. Which means I actually enjoy his with him, a blue moon occurrence for us.
When we’re lying sweat-slick and satiated, still touching but no longer embraced, he says, “That should take care of your bad dream.”
And the dream rushes back into my consciousness so fast and hard, if I were standing it would have knocked me to the ground. For once I’m grateful for the predictability of men and sex. Marv doesn’t disappoint and drifts back to sleep before I have a chance to respond. I came so close to telling him this time - I’m pretty sure it was because of his hand pushing my hair away from my face. I’m so glad he distracted both of us. Because if he knew, he’d tell Harold and I’d have to confess at a meeting or worse yet, explain why I refused to confess. I’d have to be told one more time that I need to trust God; I need to believe; I need to stop clinging to my own selfish desires.
I hate this dream, and don’t know how to make it stop. I’m pretty sure God’s the one who sends it. To remind me that I was given chances and blew them all. I can hear His voice, sounding a lot like Marv sounding like Harold, say, “Your childless life is the consequence of all your bad choices and your refusal to put Me first in all things.”
Cooling and sticky, I pull the rumpled comforter up to my chin, then close my eyes and turn my sight inward. The dream awaits me in vivid detail, like I knew it would.
I’m pregnant – huge, awkward, baby-kicking pregnant. I feel wonder and joy and redemption. Finally pregnant and due to give birth any minute. I don’t mind the pains that increase by the second because I know that soon I will hold my daughter in my arms, and this time I will keep her and love her and care for her.
The dream world shifts without transition and I find myself in a rocking chair, holding my solid sweet-smelling daughter in the crook of one arm. I gaze into the face of the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. My heart fills, floats, explodes in fireworks of joy. Katie Beth. Mine. To keep.
Another shift. I’m alone. My arms empty. My womb empty. Standing on a dark, desolate plain, empty except for a group of women floating away from me. One who looks a lot like Harold’s wife Bonnie carries my baby. Katie Beth cries out for me, her mother. I hear a woman say, “You aren’t fit to be her mother. We’re going to find a good mother for her.” I cry out, beg for her to be returned, stretch my arms as far as they’ll go toward my lost baby. The women continue their inexorable journey toward a horizon denied me. My feet are frozen to the ground, refuse to move. I cry out again, with every fiber of my being.
The strength of the memory nearly pushes the dream cry into daylight sound. This time, however, my brain overrides my body and clamps down hard.
My eyes fly open, focus on the glitter of the popcorned ceiling, refuse welling tears. I need to do something, anything, to fill the emptiness the dream has exposed. Marv’s temporary fix has left me feeling even emptier – if that’s possible – and dirty. Harold’s prophet voice booms uninvited into the cold echoing cavern of my being. “Only through complete submission to God and your husband will you find happiness and peace. Until you’re willing to completely let go, you shut yourself off from God’s grace.”
Without looking at the softly snoring man who is my husband, at least for a while longer, I shift my body to the edge of the bed and slip silently into the new day. I can’t live this way. I won’t live this way. And if going to hell is the price I’ll have to pay for my rebellious heart, I’m starting to wonder if it could possibly be any worse than what I’m living now.
photo from Flickr