By James Wadman, Dream Collection

It is a dark road, the pavement beneath my shoes echoes with each footstep.  Homes of families sleep on both sides of me in the deepest hours of the night.  You have no identity, but you are beside me and it makes me feel safe.  Everything else is a vivid memory.  The upward sloping road leads to a destination closer to the twinkling night sky above us.  The only sound remains our footsteps approaching the summit of the small hill.

“I’m not dreaming,” I tell you.

You don’t respond.  What I said was silly.  Of course I’m not dreaming, you think.

Don’t look back, I think to myself, the words repeating over and over in my head.

Why does this fear overcome me?  What lurks behind me that nurtures such suspicion? I can’t take it, my curiosity more powerful than the ignorance I so desire.

Don’t look back, don’t look back.

I look back.

There is a dull glow coming from the house at the bottom of the hill.  By now we are halfway to the sky, and the house is quite a safe distance away.  Reality loosens.  I stop expecting the physical world to make sense, though I have no reason for making this decision.

The glow splits into several soft lights of blue, pink, yellow, and white.  I know these colors are only moulds of my mind’s creation so I do my best to create the mirage of light into something innocent.  Sheep.

I hope that the innocence of glowing sheep in the distance is enough to put my mind at ease, but it is not.  You are walking up the hill, completely oblivious to the breakdown of my reality.

I am no longer walking.  I am looking at the glowing sheep, now convinced that I am witnessing a dream in my waking state.  The fear escalades as I realize that I am intruding on the foreign world of dreams, though I am consciously perceiving the elusive masterpiece of my subconscious.

The fear takes shape.  Behind the glowing sheep, something has spotted me.  I see the eyes of the beast.

Suddenly my fear emerges in the form of a tiger, glowing orange behind the flock of sheep.  It jumps towards the streets, its eyes fixed on me.  It is nothing more than my imagination, but I cannot convince myself it is a harmless projection.

Don’t look back, my mind is mocking me.  I should have listened.

I reach for my phone; I want to share with a friend what I am seeing.  It is as if I am texting at the speed of light, my elated words describing my dream-like vision in what is clearly reality.

I only need to look away for the tiger and the sheep to disappear.  With my back turned, there is no tiger.  There is no longer danger.  I race to catch up with you at the top of the hill.

I wake up before I make it there.  I roll over on my bed, somewhat unsatisfied that it was just a dream when I felt that I was in reality.  I take a deep breath and check the time on my phone.  It is close to 7 AM.  I scroll through my text messages until I find the friend I was texting in my dream.  I open the message and I see my own words: I just witnessed a dream in real life!

That was enough of a kick to wake up again.

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