Mr. Mahaffey, my high school psychology teacher, made us keep a dream journal. I always suspected it was his way of determining the craziest among us, of determining exactly which of us needed counseling, and how much of it. Motives aside, Mahaffey’s dream segment was the most enjoyable academic experience of my high school career. (If you’re reading, thanks for that, Mahaffey. And shalom.)
The rules of the dream journal were simple. We were to keep a wide-ruled notebook by our beds, and were to write down those dreams we remembered upon first waking. I did this for some time, even after the semester ran its course. I found the journal prompted me to explore thoughts and fears that I’d otherwise swept aside, and inspired a good bit of creativity.
I’m not sure when I gave up the practice, but recently I had a dream that I thought worth journaling. When I shared it with Amber, she said I should write it out here, mostly for entertainment value. So, here we are. Welcome to my dream world.
Last night I dreamed I was with you, fishing on the White River. We were on a rocky ledge, in the sunshine, and were surrounded by blinking and buzzing yellow buttercups. The setting sun was warm on our backs, and we were stiff with anticipation, believing that a run of whale-sized striped bass were coming our way.
I found a nightcrawler, an over-sized slimy one with a black cyclopian orb at the tip of his head. He was pale. I stung his eye with my hook, curled his body around the shank and up to the hook-eye. I cast him headlong into the water and immediately felt the line tighten, saw the flash of fish scales against the sun.
Jumping from the side of the ledge, I ran past buttercups to the waters edge where my fish was gape-mouthed on the bank. He was flounder flat, indigo, with Victorian-ruffled fins hanging from the center of his body like frilly lace. His flesh was poison, tingling to the touch.
I unhooked him and tossed them into the water, into a particularly cool spot where the sun was not shining, and he morphed into a flat plate, a neon blue frisbee. Concerned that I’d de-oxygenated him to death, I dove headlong into icy water. I cradled his lifeless body, moved him to an underwater sunspot where the warmth of the water washed over us both. In the sun, he transformed for a moment back into the beautiful blue fish, but bolted in fear to another cold spot where he again turned into a frisbee. You called from the bank, said to come out so we wouldn’t be late for the wedding.
It was Matt’s wedding, and my grandmother was the wedding coordinator. The banquet hall was spread wide with a well-catered feast, and Silverchair was rocking the stage. I was asked to move a glass table that was perched on the balcony overlooking the dance floor, and I did. Accidentally dropping it from the ledge, I watched it shatter into thousand pieces amid the party-goers. My grandmother backed me into a corner, said that I had dropped the table to spite her, to ruin the perfectly planned wedding. I asked her why she’d say such a thing, and she said I was always spiteful, always refusing baptism into the church. I told her that I had been baptized–even though it was of the Southern Baptist variety–and tears welled in her eyes. She smiled. She hugged me. “Praise Jesus,” she said. “Baptist go to heaven, too.”
In the banquet hall, the dancers continued, crunching shards of glass into dust. I scanned the crowd for the bride and groom, but they were not there. Ron Young was, though, so I made my way through the crowd to hug him, asked him where he’d been all these years. His lips were sealed, but he smiled like a man who knew a good secret. Stepping aside, his son Jonathan appeared, he standing seven feet tall in a starched-stiff white suit. He was wearing a white shirt, too, the kind with the big open collar, the kind celebrities wear to event of the year.
I tackled him in my joy, felt his crisp suit and bones crunch under my weight. I picked him up, dusted him off, and told him I was sorry we hadn’t spoken in so long. He turned his head and laughed, exposing a goatee that had been shaved into the shape of a Nike swoosh. He pointed, said the facial hair was the byproduct of his newest endorsement deal.
“Where’s Matt?” I asked. Johnny smiled, said “couldn’t even make his way to his own wedding. He and his lady had a previous engagement in Little Rock. They’re attending his sister’s graduation.”
I chuckled and said, “of course.”
We exited the hall and he asked me whether I’d been fishing lately. “Yeah,” I told him before waking. “Caught a blue flounder a few minutes ago.”
“Blue flounder aren’t real,” he said.
“I know,” I responded. “But is any of this?”