I don’t dream often. Nightmares can’t find me because I learned when I was very young how to outsmart them. I don’t even have to leave them anymore because it’s always easier to build on what is already there—manipulate it, rather than shut it down in its entirety.
I feel like I have had this dream before, but I don’t know whether or not to trust that feeling. I walk around with a perpetual sense of deja vu that I can’t really shake. I see things, and I somehow know that I have seen them before. Sometimes I flirt with the idea that those dreams we can’t remember are actually dreams of the future. Maybe, somewhere, we already know what can come to pass, and with this foresight we alter our choices, change our ultimate decisions.
There is little reality to this dream, but it was so vivid that I lost my sense of what was logical and sane, and what wasn’t.
I’m in this place that is both dark and light. Everything is lush and green, and the air smells sweet like it does here in the summer. There’s a morning dew settled on the grass and the sky is clear and blue. There’s a house with large windows that let in the morning sunlight. The floors are hardwood, and the ambience is warm and inviting. Somehow, my family is here. I wander the halls, searching for them.
I find my mother making dinner. I can’t stop thinking about what I saw earlier—the plant. I know she has used it before, and I want more than anything for its properties to be true. I ask her if she has seen the dead. She stops what she is doing and looks over at me. She tells me that the plant is dangerous, that I should stay away. The dead have almost taken her away before, and she fears they will steal me.
I tell her that I have a plan, that it will be different for me. We talk for awhile, she tells me what has happened before. Then she pulls a bag from one of the drawers and hands it to me. Its contents are a deep green. They are small, insignificant-looking little leaves. They lead to the dead, she says, and strangely enough I believe her. She warns me to wait for her, to not try them alone, but I’m certain it will be different for me, that my barriers and doors that I use in my mind in waking life will shut them out. They won’t drag me down, I tell her.
I wander outside. I don’t tell anyone what I am about to do. I walk through the woods, enjoying the light, before my curiosity can no longer be held at bay. I tear off a corner of one of the leaves and place it on my tongue. I chew it to pulp and swallow. Minutes pass, with no results. I take a larger portion this time, and within seconds, the world begins to dim. It’s as though a filter has been switched on, letting in only the ugly light. The sun has gone away, and my vision is beginning to blur. The trees have become bent and ominous, and where there was once light, the darkness is creeping in from all around. I stumble, feeling cold and alone. Someone is shouting at me, but I can’t understand what they are saying.
There are no dead here, I realize. Only sorrow and pain. I know I am searching for someone, someone important, someone I needed to talk to, but I am all alone.
When I come to, my mother is there. She is angry at me for going off alone to speak to them. I don’t have the heart to tell her that there was no one there. She says she and my father are getting a divorce, and although it surprises me, it doesn’t make me upset. I tell her to do what feels right, what make her happy. I can’t stop thinking about the plant, and how the dead failed to materialize.
I try it again. I take more and more, hoping for a different outcome, but it seems that the more I ingest, the more the startling loneliness strangles me in its grasp. We’re all dead, I think, laughing to myself, lost in my haze. The world is twisted and rotted, but it seems more real that way.
I can’t see the dead, I realize. I’m different from those who can. I am not so special as I had tried to convince myself, and this person I wanted to see, does not wish to see me. It’s over, I think to myself. I laugh and laugh, even as the woods go exceptionally dark, and I feel that all too familiar discontent and hate and self loathing bearing down on me, forcing their way into my very being.
This is what I am, I think to myself. I am not so special.