In her childhood home the dreamscape was vaguely her own bedroom: twin bed against the wall, chipped dresser opposite, and a writing desk acting as shelf and closet and house. But it was dark, echoey. There was something vaguely threatening about it, the dream: oppressive, like a weight on her chest, a pinprick on her fingertips, and a light glowing in the periphery, like a nightlight obscured or a door cracked open.
At its most harmless it was like being underwater.
But it wasn’t.
Through adolescence she’d return to the scene, or it to her, in punctuated moments. Like when she was sick. Like when her mother, in one of the last moments she had of her as her mother, left her home with a capfull of codeine and a twenty-dollar bill on the counter. It was all a blur then. Voices coming and going. The same echoes. The same pinprick. Everything in a mise-en-scene of bloated, floating orbs. The drug so easy. Her young body was unrehearsed for such coercion. She awoke, sweating, pushing up against an invisible gravity that felt tangible. Until she was awake. And it wasn’t. And her eyelids felt heavy and she fell back into sleep.
When her mother returned she checked on her breathing and slipped the twenty back into her purse.
In adulthood it was the same (fuzzy, orb, pinprick, low light), but unreliable (intermittent, inconsistent, and oddly less oppressive.) It was as if her limbs were swollen and she was as unable to grasp them as she was to see them. She dreamed of running with a needle to deflate everything, to pop it and return it to normal. As if things had grown, out of control, when she was out of the room. And no she had reemerged and felt responsible. She wanted to see it through. Explain it and cure it.
But she never did. And after waking her partner on more than one occasion by kicking off the sheets and emitting low moans neither of pain nor panic, she was never able to explain it. Not fully. Not to her satisfaction.
The dream. That one dream.