I knew that I was dreaming; stuck in an alternate reality that was both creepy and confining, like one of those freaky rubber body-suits. I also knew that I couldn’t wake from the dream on my own. That loss of control spooked me every time. When I was finally able to wake, I’d be breathing hard, soaking wet and pissed that it had happened again. For the next little while, I was trapped in a stark white room with no windows or doors. A single bare bulb hung over a glass table and cast hard, angular shadows against the bright walls, even though there was no other furniture in the room to impede the light. Logically, it didn’t make sense, but my dreams rarely do.
I thought myself alone, but that didn’t last long. Like sinister holograms, three figures flickered around the table, seated in newly-materialized chairs. A fourth chair appeared as they looked in my direction with blank faces. A woman and two men waited. And then I heard the loveliest voice inside my head.
“Finally, you’ve come,” she said. It was the woman speaking, but her lips had not moved, nor had her expression changed. They didn’t seem to see me. More like they felt my presence in the room with them.
I tried to focus on their faces, to see if I recognized them, but the dream wavered whenever I concentrated on the details. Experience had taught me not to push it or I’d just find myself starting over inside of a whole new nightmare.
I’d learned that lesson the hard way, my stubborn streak once trapping me in dream after dream after dream for more than twenty-four hours. My husband had been on the verge of calling an ambulance when I’d finally sat up and asked him what we were having for breakfast. That was back when he actually cared enough to worry about me.
“Sit,” a male voice said.
I considered the request. In my dreams I’d never tried to do something. Usually I was just an observer. With feet that felt too light, I joined the group at the table. Now for the moment of truth- if I tried to pull out the only empty chair, would I be able to? Or would my solid looking hand pass right through it?