I regained consciousness with a tube in my trachea, many more attached to my body, and an expression on your face that I could not discern.
I tried to tell you that I remember the accident in its entirety and ask if anyone survived. If anyone died, my life would be truly pointless. The others in the car were my mom, sister, nephew, and your parents.
If my sister died, her children would become orphans, as their father died nearly two years ago. If she survived and my nephew died, she would be devastated with the loss of a child and a spouse, within two years. If my mom and your parents died, we would have the loss of both parents in common, along with our love of football (soccer as others call it). The possibilities were endless. I needed to know that all others survived.
You left the room. You left again. I tried to yell for you to come back. You leaving is what helped this chain of events. I know it sounds selfish, but I need to know your intentions from that night and why you ran away from me.
The tube prevented any of those words from escaping and I blacked out.
I remember the day we met. I was at the apartment office making sure my rent payment cleared. You were applying for your residency. You asked how long I lived in the community and if I would recommend it to a friend. I responded 12 years and I did just recommend the last unit to a friend, so you were probably SOL due to that recommendation. I quickly added a, “Just kidding and good luck” to my response. You asked me my name and I said and spelled it. It is a difficult name to spell. I returned the question. You answered. I asked you if it was spelled with “ea, au or aw” as it could be spelled many different ways. You told me you would text me for the avoidance of doubt. I retorted that it was a clever way to ask for someone’s phone number, but I gave it. My phone buzzed with your number and the word “Shawn”.
The train crept into the station. The purpose was to transport a body for identification. My family was waiting on deck and I was voluntold to identify the body. They gave me a picture. They knew the person but didn’t want to board the train. I called them cowards. In defiance, my youngest nephew who knew the meaning of the word, insisted on boarding the train with me. My family gasped in horror. They all agreed to board.
The conductor was menacing but I saw the wink he gave my nephew. I identified the body based on the picture that my family provided. We stepped back into the vestibule but I noticed that my family was gone. The conductor grabbed my arm and told my nephew to exit the train. The doors slammed shut. I begged the conductor to let me off, too. He obliged, but I had to crawl through a window. As my feet touched the ground, I saw my nephew hop back onto the train.
As the doors were closing, the conductor told me to enjoy the poison in the air.
My family waved goodbye from the train. My hands and lungs started to blister.
Growing up I had a lot of crazy dreams. I was chased by dinosaurs that came from the past through a portal at the back of my pool. My house was crushed by a giant scorpion that we then had to fight off. Bears, hunting me. Etc… And, more recently, I’ve had dreams where I’m in a car that is being chased and shot at.
Good times, right?
Interestingly enough, I’ve never had falling dreams. I’ve never had any dreams about work (or school) anxiety. I’ve never really had any of those nightmares that everyone seems to have at some point or other throughout their lives.
And, I’ve never had a dream where I was lost at sea, adrift on the rolling ocean with no land in sight, no supplies left, no company, no hope.
But, the thought terrifies me more than anything else.
The dinosaurs and scorpions were the dreams of an imaginative child’s mind trying to process new knowledge and fears. They hold no power over me anymore. The shoot-out dreams have occurred so frequently recently that I know they are a dream now while it is unfolding and I can use that knowledge to wake up or shift to something different. The bears… well, they still creep me out. But, not as much as open water. Nowhere near as much.
And perhaps that is why I’ve never had dreams about it, because the idea is so completely horrifying that even while I’m dreaming my mind won’t let my subconscious explore the possibilities…
I knew I shouldn’t do it. I knew. as fascinated as I am on the subject, that I would regret looking out the window. But, I was curious, and fascinated, and interested… and I couldn’t help myself.
The Springs Fire, getting national media coverage yesterday and this morning (PST), is burning just a few miles away from where I live. Last night, this morning, at 2AM when I woke up to change the little prince’s diaper I looked at my South facing windows…
Have you ever seen the movie “Thirteenth Warrior,” with Antonia Banderas? There is a scene in that movie where the hillside has a snake, a river, a line of fire running down it:
That is what I saw out my window when I looked. The sky was orange, the flames were reaching for it, and in the darkness it all looked so much closer than it actually was. I knew we were safe, but I still shouldn’t have looked. I did manage to get back to sleep afterwards but… well, the image haunted me.
Now that the sun has retaken the sky I can no longer see the flames, and that does put my mind more at ease. I can see the great billowing black smoke smearing out the western horizon. It is impressive. It is a testament to the power of fire.
My thoughts go out to the fire crews working this fire, and the other fires burning today in California and everywhere else for that matter. Be safe, and thank you for what you do.