Dream Asylum

I don't pretend to understand them.


Everything is in high-contrast pastels, and all the hills are the same height, so that if you stand at the top of one, you can see forever. The sky is spackled with clouds, and feels low, like a ceiling I could bump my head on.

The twins walk the dirt path, in matching dresses. They are carrying baskets and distributing food to everyone else, like they do every morning. They pass under an arch, cut into a freestanding cement wall painted purple.

They pass animated character, sitting down. A middle-aged lady in sophisticated clothing. The twins toss her a sandwich, and she reminisces about when they were young and she put cheese in their beds.

They pass two young kids, playing in a darker patch of dirt by the light brown path. They have dusty knees. One is more evil than the other. They both have very red curly hair, clinging to their heads. They have no eyes, noses, or mouths. Despite this handicap, they make their requests for breakfast and the twins serve them.

Farther up the path, the twins pause near a withered tree stump, broken off at chest height, with the hole implausibly bent sideways to face the road. The interior of the stump is solid black. A witch pops out, wearing a pointy grey hat. Her green face and neck are visible. The rest is still inside the stump. This is where she lives.

In a high, excited voice she warbles, "Oh, but I don't know what I want to eat!"

The twins don't wait for her to decide, and neither does she. She pops back in and they start walking.

They don't walk far before they encounter a magical goose with no head. Where the head should begin, there is only a star-shaped tinfoil collar like the flute of some avant-garde flower pot. This is Goosey Lucy. Her chromed voice reverbates from the depths of the black hole atop her neck, as she pats forward on webbed feet to receive breakfast. She is in command here, even the witch is her subordinate. Nearby is a curiously flat looking cutout of a pond, fuzzy on the edges, with sparkling water. Though a pond is the place a goose would live, this seems more like a prop, projected to convince the hurried observer that all is well.

At the end of the path is the front door to a house. Just beyond the frame of the front door is the white blur of the edge of reality. Out in that white blur, the laws of space and time fade away, and anything could happen. It's the dangerous edge of my dream world.

Next to the door stands a nice young girl in blue-jeans. She has long straight hair and a pleasant smile. In a calm, cheerful voice she introduces herself as a witch-in-training. I shake her hand, smile, and open the door.

Inside the house is a carpeted staircase, going down. I take it and make a right turn and find myself in a living room. A few things happen that I can't remember.

Ken is here, with a crowd of my friends. They're all taking a group photo in the dining room, standing amidst wooden chairs spread around a polished table. To make everyone smile for the photo, Ken sings a song to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle". The lyrics are the phrase "I am not a piece of dirt" over and over.

Sometime after this, I am in the basement under the house. Dry dust makes a hilly catacomb in a grid of square wood beams. In the far corner I examine a lumpy white sphere, stuck to the wall with spiderweb. It resembles a rice ball. I decide that it's probably an egg sac, and I imagine thousands of tiny white spiders crawling all over it.

More time oozes by. I find myself in the messy backyard of the house. Clods of turned dirt and twisty vines make the ground treacherous. A white picket fence is in a shambles, no longer marking the borders of the garden. Looking around at the wreckage, I decide I would rather go back into the house and locate that witch-in-training, and perhaps kiss her.

I concentrate, and float into the air. It is hard to control my drift, and I sail up to the roof of the house. Too far! The effort of flying has started to bleach the colors of my dream, and the white blur is gathering up. The house is starting to dissolve.

My concentration lands me on the wooden porch. I push open the sliding door and walk up some stairs, looking for the girl. I pass a shower, recessed into the wood-paneled wall at the top of the stairs. A plastic shower curtain halfway conceals the white ceramic tile. Hanging askew on the curtain is a paper sign, scrawled in as a joke. It advertises the shower as a place for rent, "near UC campus". The housing crunch sure hasn't let up.

I proceed beyond the shower, around the corner to a hallway with some large windows on one side. I never find the girl, though. My flight has taken it's toll, and as I continue walking, the house dissolves completely, narrowing to the point of consciousness, which does that curious inversion and expands out the other side, into the waking world.