Dream Think

By Andrew R. Duckworth

Photo and editing by Andrew R. Duckworth

If I had to guess, I would have to assume that you have never been in the predicament of being caught in the dreamworld. Don’t misunderstand! It is not the same as dreaming, and yet it is. When one dreams, eventually one wakes up. And yet, I was caught in a dreamworld.

One morning, I grabbed my bag and made my way out to my car. On any normal day in early spring, it was dark, not even a coming glow from the horizon. On this day, the strangest of days, my watch read 6 AM, but it seemed to be around noon. The sun shined overhead like an all consuming spotlight, drenching everything with a light I wasn’t prepared for. My next door neighbor was standing out at the end of his driveway, a water hose in his hand, watering his mailbox.

“Well, where are you going this early?”

I was caught a bit by surprise.

“Work,” I answered. “Same station I attend every morning this time.”

“But it’s March 25th!” Mr. Ripley mentioned. “Ain’t no work on the 25th! Just make sure and water the ceilings!”

“Okie doke, Buck-O!” I replied as I turned and reentered my home.

“Harness the issue! I’ll see you when you get there!” He gave me a last word before I made my way back inside.

I began to realize that nothing about the morning was making the slightest shred of anything resembling sense, including my speech, including my neighbor’s speech. Everything was off by miles. It was dreamlike, topsy-turvy.

For a moment, assuming I was still sleeping, I began hitting myself in the face. I could feel it, but only barely. I was slapping myself in the cheek so hard that it carried the same feeling you get when you put your hand under extremely hot water. I was awake. But how? What had I woken up to?

“Why are you playing tennis with an empty racket?” I heard my wife’s voice.

“Where are ye?” I questioned, hearing her nearby but not seeing her.

“I have committed to a table at dawn and that is all there is.”

For some reason, I took this to mean the spare bedroom. By what manner of reasoning is a question I, to this day, cannot answer.

I walked into the spare bedroom, now fitted with only a sofa, a television, and fifteen portraits hanging on the wall, perhaps ancestry portraits although I have no idea whose faces they belonged to. My wife was sitting down, dressed in a costume resembling a plant of some type and a masquerade mask with a bowl of popcorn at her side.

“Why the getup?”

“Well, don’t you know the party is tonight?”

“But it’s not even Easter”

“Yes it is”

“Okay, okay,” I said. “Any idea why it’s so bright out yonder?”

“It’s a telescope.”

“Oh yeah, sorry, I’m having trouble remembering things I guess. Don’t we have work today?”

“Not work, just the idea of work.”

“Oh, okay, gotcha.”

“It’s something that the philosophers described in the Orbius.”

“The Orbius?”

“Yes, the Orbius. It’s the kind that only children eat.”

“Sure. Everything is strange isn’t it?”

“Kind of, but what is on TV?”

“I don’t know, but don’t we have work?”

“In the Orbius, sure, but not in person.”

“Oh, okay. That makes sense.”

It didn’t make sense. None of it made sense. Not a single scrap of sense. Sense itself had fled the world and I was caught in a place and time that was familiar yet turned upside down.

“What craves the ache of time in a place so narrow? That was Shakespeare in the play Romeo and Juliet” my wife spoke.

It wasn’t Shakespeare. It wasn’t any author that I was aware of. But I wasn’t about to argue.

“Hmmm… know any Marlowe?”

I’m not sure why I asked the question.

“Marlowe was Shakespeare’s cat. Cats can’t talk!”

“Yes we can!” My cat, Tux, had suddenly developed the means by which to speak human language and had jumped into her lap out of nowhere. “We talk often and if you would listen you would know that the sky is yellow!”

“A stellar observation, my good fellow!” I said, perhaps due to my amazement.

“Thank you!” My cat said, shooting me an impossible grin.

“What do we do since we don’t have work? Do we have any forts in the basket?”

“A few,” my wife answered. “We need to go and get the dry cleaning so the cake doesn’t melt. Can you go to the apothecary for me? I think I might be a kaleidoscope.”

“Um… okay.”

“I would go, but I’m watching ‘Sherpintime.’”

I have no idea what ‘Sherpintime’ is.

“How do I wake up?”

Finally, I was able to ask a sensible question.

“Just follow the cracks in the driveway and you should reach the mailbox,” my wife answered.

The mailbox? Could there be some answer there? With everything else in the absurd state of a dream, I decided that there would be no harm in at least finding out.

I walked out the front door again to the driveway. Everything was the same except for a few large sunflowers that had sprouted, grown, and fully bloomed in the span of a few minutes near the end of the driveway. Pouring out of the flowering portion was what seemed to be a waterfall of ant-sized dogs of all varieties, scrambling away once their feet hit the concrete. I ignored it. I walked out to my mailbox and looked inside. Behind some thorny vines was a torn scrap of notebook paper. I reached my hand in carefully and pulled out the note. It read simply: “you’re not awake yet.”

The obvious. A waste of ink and paper. A waste of time. But my brain fired on with that word “yet.” Perhaps I was still dreaming, but it felt like the real world… apart from the nonsense.

“Mortician says ‘Hello!’” A stranger passing by on the sidewalk waved at me as he laughed. It was as if he had told the most clever joke humanity could ever conceive of. I didn’t laugh. I gave an awkward wave back.

I turned the note over. There were a few words scribbled on the back: “speak the word ‘leftovers’ in conversation.”

More nonsense.

Or perhaps, something that could help.

“What trails the genesis of a coin?” My neighbor was finished watering his mailbox and had now turned his attention to his car that he was pouring a bucket of fresh-caught salmon onto, still flopping away as they hit the metal.

“Oh, I’m just trying to get out of this dream” I answered.

“Eh, see what the wife says about dinner at the downtown place I always say.”


Leftovers. Genius!

In a rush, I swept back into the house and into the spare bedroom. The furniture had been rearranged. The sofa was now facing another direction. The television was still in place as it had been.

“What happened to the couch?”

“Sometimes it happens,” Tux said.

“Uh-huh,” I nodded and turned my attention to my wife. “Listen, how do you feel about the downtown place for dinner?”

“They always give you huge portions,” she mentioned. “Last time I got the steak, it was Tuesday!”

“Indeed,” I said. “Well, we can always bring in LEFTOVERS!”

Everything went blurry for a moment. Blurry. Blurry. Everything faded. Lines melted. Colors swirled. Colors became bland, lighter. And then nothing. Nothing.

“Come on! We’re going to be late!”

It was my wife’s voice.

“Late for the Easter costume party?” I questioned.

She looked at me with a face that could only suggest that I was insane.

“What?” She said after a moment’s pause.

“Nothing, just checking.”

I grabbed my bag and hurried out the door with my wife, off to a day of work, the way it should have been.

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