A true story. Word.
On a recent night I woke in the gloom of my tiny house shaking and angry. I had dreamed of staggering down a hill clutching a large bundle against my chest. Its height rose about my forehead. Its girth strained the reach of my arms. I locked my knees against its weight and wrenched my feet forward, one after the other, teeth gritted.
All the while, someone whose face I could not see casually walked beside me, arms empty, hands freely swinging. Every few feet that person would cheerfully call out, “It’s going to be all right! You will be fine! You’ll make it!” Sweat gathered on my face and ran down my back. I could not answer; I had neither strength nor breath to speak.
As I shook away the vestiges of the dream, I wondered what anxiety had triggered the images. I switched on the light and pulled myself upright, skirting around the little cabinet in my loft bedroom. I eased myself along the stairwell and lowered my feet to the kitchen floor, clutching the solidness of the post. Standing beside my table, I lifted the waiting blue metal cup and drank cool water.
The face of the person who so callously disregarded my struggle eluded me. But the voice had a familiar cadence, a flat Midwestern twang. An eerie feeling overtook me. I closed my eyes and replayed those light, empty assurances. I summoned the memory of the load crushing my chest. Who did I imagine would have let me struggle like that without insisting on helping me?
I fell back into an uneasy sleep. When the alarm rang, I could barely rouse myself. I dragged my body through the morning, haunted by my dream. I could not shake the feeling that I knew the person who walked beside me; that someone whom I trusted actually considered the burdens of my life so slight as to be inconsequential. Eventually, though, the nagging worry receded as the day bloomed and the memory grew dim.
I had the dream again last night. This time, I recognized the voice. This time, I confronted the face of the person beside me. The eyes regarding me with cool nonchalance as I clutched my burden and lurched down the hill might have been tracking my progress from the bright glass of a mirror. I woke again in the shrouded hours before dawn, shaking, stunned, and angry at the person who had so little regard for me that she made no effort to ease my burden. I cried out in anguish and heard the echo of her answering call. Then, sitting on the side of my bed In the grey of early morning, I wrapped my arms around that forlorn figure who seemed to have failed me. I whispered to her, It’s going to be all right! You will be fine. You will make it. I will help you.
It’s the thirtieth day of the one-hundred and ninth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.