347: Canto for the Damned — Dream Diary
I don’t use the dream diary often. Until yesterday, it had been about 10 months since I opened it; I never read about the dreams. I only write them down. I don’t know why, but it helps move them out of my head. Most dreams do not even register to my waking mind or require the diary to move them along; normal dreams pass through my head like plastic bags in a river. I can’t quantify what exactly makes a dream require the diary to be used, but there are several important elements: horror, fear (which is distinct from horror), and grand spectacles are all common. The only thing that always causes me to use the diary is recursion. I lived the same dream for four nights this week. I was forced to use the diary.
Each night my mind played out the the same horror. I couldn’t bear it the first night-- the dream ripped me out of my sleep. I would go back to bed, sleep briefly, and then it would resume. The first night I did this four times; at 5 AM, I decided it was best to stay awake. I had amassed maybe six hours of sleep. The second night I only let the dream repeat twice. I made myself coffee at 3 AM and turned on the TV. The bags under my eyes were incredibly pronounced by the time I arrived at work (which was six hours after waking). The third night I let the dream repeat twice again, but the forth night I could not fathom returning to the hell. I woke up at 1:30 and kept myself awake until work.
I spent that day slipping in and out of alertness. My eyes watered, words echoed in my head, and my jaw hung open far too often. I accomplished nothing at my meaningless desk job that day because I was too lost and my thoughts kept being pulled back to the dream. Sometime after my lunchbreak I resolved to use the diary.
That night I slept; it was easy to fall asleep because I couldn’t stay awake. I believe I went to bed around nine because I woke up screaming and sweating at 10:30.
I opened the diary in the way I had been taught since I was a child. I removed it in from the top drawer of my dresser. I set it on my desk: as always, the wind picked up when I placed it down. I opened to the last page I wrote, which was labeled “06/18/2018.” Like I said, the date was ten months ago, about.
I then turned to a blank page. The wind intensified. Outside the door to my bedroom, I heard my cat hiss — I live alone aside from her. I understand that I cannot open the door while the book is out, but I’ve always wanted to because whenever I use it something always startles the cat (she spends the next day or two hiding under the couch) and I don’t know what it is. The threshold cannot be broken, however, so the door must remain closed.
I placed my hand on the open page and the books pages began to warm. The wind died down slightly and the cat quieted itself. I said the words like my father taught me; the book warmed further. I heard the music begin to play as I felt the blood began to form under the nail of my index finger. It began to form into neat drops at first (they hung off the side of my finger) but as the drum beat that accompanies the singers slowed it began to form a steady stream. I wrote the date, 3/30. Almost ten months. I wrote my name, and I wrote the oath like I had at least once every year since I was twelve, which was when first saw the man in the bog after I hadn’t slept for two days straight.
I continued writing and started on the first of the three paragraphs. I began with an apology to the man for speaking to him early this year but explained that the may dreams had begun in March. He knows this; the act of humbling myself before him and acknowledging that his time is more valuable than mine is the important part of the apology. I cannot tell him anything about my life that he doesn’t know.
The second paragraph was a description of the dream. This was the only part of the letter that would bring any meaningful news to him. I do not understand the significance of the man with the snake above his family, or the woman with the hound that stares at me until I wake, or why the child holds onto the tree the entire dream. I also understand that I do not need to know these things; their significance would be lost on me even if explained because I can never be like the man in the bog has been since my family found him in the old country, before my grandfather’s grandfather came to here.
I always feel weak by the time I get to the third paragraph; I get lightheaded and I believe it is because I have spent so much blood writing to the man. I must always end with a brief prayer to him: I thank him for his patronage. At the end of the paragraph I am allowed to ask for a gift in return for reporting the dream in the correct format. Traditionally, this is how a son comes into the family. I will not ask for one this year because my father is still alive; I must still transport the book to him on occasion. It is an arduous process that could not be done with a child in tow. I ask for more time free from disease this year because I’m behind at work after a week of lost productivity.
After I reviewed the entry in the diary to ensure it was correct, I closed the book. The music ended as the wind died down. I heard the scampering of claws on hardwood which meant that my cat has taken to her hidey-hole under the couch. I used my finger and made the man’s mark on the wall, then wrote down the words my father taught me to ensure he received my message underneath the mark. I pressed my bleeding finger to my forehead, removed the white undershirt I was wearing, and bent down on my knees. I closed my eyes, I heard a crash, and looked up. The mark and the words were gone. I wasn’t bleeding anymore, but I was still tired. I got back in bed and slept for twelve hours. I woke up, called out of work, and slept for a bit longer. I woke up the next morning and went to work. I was feeling particularly well rested.