Have you ever had the tune to a song you’ve never heard before stuck in your head? You can’t remember the name, the singer, or any of the words. But the beat still permeates through your mind and you reflexively hum. That’s kind of how I feel during the next part of this dream.
I’m not on a bus anymore, but I’m still in the same world – the same dreamscape. When the dream begins, I’m soaring high above the trees and all civilization. There’s an odd peace drifting between the clouds like a passenger with no specific destination. Deep down, I know I can’t stay up there forever so I finally let go.
When I open my eyes, I’m no longer present. The dream is unfolding before me, but I am watching as if in a theater and lack the ability to participate. This is a refreshing change from the first part of the dream, yet I am still hesitant for what may come next.
I realize that the stage for this act has changed. It is some kind of waystation in the abundant countryside. A humble rest stop for refueling and refreshments located miles away from the nearest town. There are a couple of people here, “dreamsheep” as I like to think of them, but they aren’t important and so their silhouettes fade away from view like candle wax into the night.
There is a solitary figure, a woman, who captures my attention. I will describe her so:
She is certainly aged, perhaps the better part of her seventies. Her skin is fair but there is a dulled yellow edge as time has robbed her of a once ephemeral glow. Her stories and experiences are all carefully preserved in the wrinkles and creases that decorate her skin like badges of military honor.
It is hard to figure out immediately what she is doing. She is standing still and demure. But no…she is hard at work at something. All her focus and gaze is laid upon the road in front of the waystation, where vehicles must arrive and depart.
It’s that simple. She is waiting for someone! She has been waiting for quite some time with great patience and resilience. The lens then zoom into the woman’s face. There is a silent determination in her countenance to wait forever if need be.
That is as far as I get for a while. Every night, I go to sleep, and every night I spend waiting and watching and waiting with this poor woman. She haunts my waking consciousness as much as my dreams.
I try to talk about her in therapy. I fill up our weekly meetings with questions.
Who is she?
Who is she waiting for?
How long has she been waiting?
Why is she still waiting?
My therapist rewards my inquisitions with a desolate stare. I think he might be a nihilist.
Before I went home today, I picked up a six-pack of beer. I don’t drink very often because I don’t like the way alcohol makes me feel. But today is an exception. I’m going to try an experiment.
The experiment lasts for about 4 beers in. I fall into bed and my last conscious thought is that I will finally get some rest tonight.
Instead, I wake up at the station again. Nothing has changed. I can’t leave the area, there are no buses pulling in or leaving, and worst of all the maiden of my nightmares is waiting in the same fucking spot she has been in since I saw her.
My mood is volatile and I think it’s fair to attribute it to the alcohol. Even the camera of my dreamscape is a little shaky as my focus shifts around. This time I go right up to the old woman as she continues to stare blankly ahead at the road. I’m unable to reach out and grab her, to shake her violently and question who she is waiting for.
I look closer into her face, lifeless and tired. I feel a deep pull within me telling me to look closer.
Then her eyes widen just a little. I almost fall backwards in the dream. Did she just move? Is she actually alive?
When I look back at her face, for the first time I notice the outline of a tear at the corner of her eye. Was that always there? It must have been, but how did I miss it?
That moment, as if color began flowing into the shapes of a monochrome Monet painting, I fully began to appreciate the extent of this poor woman’s suffering and melancholia.
It felt as if an iron gauntlet was gripping my own heart. I felt hopeless again and my own tears were gushing forth. It felt like I was waiting right alongside her, for this unknown individual who may not ever show.
Is this what it was like to place your own fate, the pulse of your very being into the hands of another? I can say assuredly that this was the worst sensation I had ever experienced. And for her, this was her routine. Every single day. To come and wait for a fate that never comes.
I resolved to help her.