Last Night's Nightmare
The dream comes online in the middle of the story as most of them do in the upstairs hallway of the house I grew up in. My kids are running around somewhere, their little squeaks and squeals disappearing around doorways and down the stairs. And I can hear my father washing dishes in the kitchen just down the hall. It’s mid-afternoon on a sunny summer day.
In reality, my parents moved away from this house 13 years ago but many of my dreams are still set in those rooms or out in the yard. I’m nearly 35 and I spent 18 years there so the neurology probably checks out for a set of pretty deep brain wrinkles.
In this sequence, my sister has died. Has been dead. For some time. So it’s already sad, but our emotional state as a family, as a collective (though only my father and I are bodily represented in this dream) is stable if not simply resigned. We’re not in mourning per se because in the narrative it is accepted that enough time has passed to not be sobbing constantly. However, it is still a massive loss so any mention of it would no doubt aggravate the wound. But connection to the event is limited to the concept of her having died because the dream does not reveal when or how or where she died but only that she is in fact not with us anymore.
Murn (my childhood nickname for her because I couldn’t quite pronounce Mary Anne), if you’re reading this... um… sorry for the weird read?
What comes next is in my opinion far worse.
So there I am down the hallway. The door to my parents’ bedroom is closed. I go to open it for reasons unknown to me now and it opens easily enough though I can’t seem to open it fully. Tension builds in the hinges as it approaches ninety degrees as if a pillow or a large teddy bear is in the way and I’m squishing it against the wall. But I quickly realize there is no pillow, no teddy bear. Something or someone is pushing back. The sensation in my hands and arms pushing against this door is of two large magnets whose same-side poles are repelling each other. At some point, the force on the other side of the door overwhelms me and the door slams in my face, rattling in the frame.
Instantly clear to me that this force is my deceased sister come to haunt our childhood home not out of some malicious intent of course but only to connect with us, to pass on some great truth not conveyed in life, I run to the kitchen where my father is doing dishes.
“Dad! She’s trying to talk to us!”
My father holding fistfuls of cutlery in his wet hands.
“She’s here! She’s trying to…”
I’m interrupted by the door down the hall.
My father’s face drops.
“See!” I say pointing down the hall.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
He turns and goes back to the sink. The door stops slamming.
I realize that it’s night suddenly. All the light in the house has gone out save for the single bulb above the sink where my father is working.
Darkness has swallowed the house.
I wake up shaking like a leaf.