Theo Guerin sat on the couch, eyes red, lids dark and bloated. He clicked his tongue against the lid of his mouth compulsively, without knowledge that he was doing so.
There was the hypnotherapist who Theo was convinced made him cluck like a chicken. And, if she did, it was the only thing she was successful in doing that session.
There was the sleep doc who fitted him with a breathing mask and, yes, prescribed more drugs.
And so it had gone. Obvious diagnoses, solutions that did not work at all or made it far worse. Reiki, acupuncture, acupressure, he had even tried the ol have lots of sex with a stranger method…no dice on any of them.
And so he related his story, as he had some many days in so many rooms before this. The dreams that seemed inconsequential and rare but that rapidly became nightly. The realization that it was him “waking up” in the dream amongst trash and old newspapers. That it was his chapped hands, his dirty fingernails. How they quickly became nightmares of a poverty stricken future. Then, how he oddly realized that his nightmare self, his dreamatar if you will, was perplexed by how this had happened, this abject poverty. That the dreamatar could not place how he had gone asleep in his big bed and woken up in trash.
He explained that about a month ago he realized that the him/it in the dream was moving closer and closer to his home. A block here, a block there. At first, Theo had ignored it, written it off on a trick of his subconscious. But he/it kept coming. The dreamatar would not quit. And Theo became convinced he/it was coming to take back the life it believed to be his/it’s own. In the last dream, the dreamatar was crouching in the pachysandras outside the living room window. Theo though, nay knew, that if he could not stop the dreams now, his life would be stolen from him by this empty vessel wearing his face.
Guru stood then and began to chant. Theo was taken aback. Everyone else had further questions and concerned looks and barely concealed, “Wow…you are CRAZY” blinks. Guru, on the other hand, just went right to work. After about eight minutes of chanting and dancing Guru froze in place and shook violently, falling to the ground. Theo felt rooted in place, unsure what to do. Then, Guru sat straight up and smiled. He assured Theo it was done, handed him a trinket to place on his bedside table for the next month, told him to go right asleep when he got home and bid him adieu.
Theo left feeling oddly calm. He did not believe anything he had seen, he remained sure this was the end, but now accepted that. At least, he allowed, Guru had given him that.
So when he arrived home, he placed the trinket by his bed, slid into the crisp cool sheets, and slumbered. Deep, deep slumber. Dreamless. He awoke, 13 hours later, alive and rested and hopeful. There had been no dreamatar, no sense of imminent end.
The next night, again, all was well. And so on. Until the days became weeks and Theo was moved to celebrate. A big party. Lots of guests. He told them it was just because, but for him it was a celebration of a life restored.
He had fun. He drank, he danced, he offered an impromptu serenade, singing alone in public for the first time since high school choir. It was glorious. He was reborn.
And so, when Trish cuddled up to him at the end of the night and tossed him a wink and a purr, he did not hesitate to drunkenly take her to bed with him, the two of them tumbling this way and that up the stairs. They crashed into furniture as they undressed, knocked things off walls and surfaces. Objects fell and broke, others were crushed beneath feet. Theo knew he was going to have to do some cleaning up in the morning but he was carefree about it. He had gone through too much to curse having to sweep up.
He never noticed the set of eyes gazing at him through the window. And then the crash, sharp and loud…