On nightmares and characters, and a few things in between (I)
"The worst nightmare is to have no dreams" — Thomas Amo
The last work of fiction I wrote, I posted it almost a month ago. Originally, I had the goal of producing at least one short story a week, a decent one according to my standards, but I've always known I can't force it and I often let my characters set the pace. Some of you might think it's just lazy of me to do so, to wait for them to show up, but they are as deserving of space as any living, breathing human. I respect my characters, and their stories, as if they were my own. Because they are.
There's a story I've been trying to write and breathe life into, but it collides with my own in a way I can't yet deal with. Not a bad thing, it's actually a love story, but it touches on the realm of the truly unknown for me, and so I just haven't figured out how to string the words. The characters have whispered the images to me, I dream of it almost every night, but I still don't know how to tell it to others. I'm scared it will pop the bubble and leave me feeling more lonely than before. Sometimes, as soon as I finish writing a story, the characters walk out the door and don't look back.
I respect the nuances of fiction as much as I respect my nightmares. You see, everything we process in the background, no matter how little, can end showing up through our dreams. And since I spent so many years lying and being lied to, I've gotten really careful and wary of hiding things just for the sake of comfort. Whenever I dream, I listen closely to what my mind is trying to say. The fact that nightmares happen inside of our brains doesn't make the messages less real, and this doesn't mean we should allow them excessive power over us, just that we should indeed listen to whatever's going on in there.
The first nightmare I ever had was a black and white shape that threatened to swallow me. Looking back, it was like an eclectic butthole, a mix of alien and marine life, completely unlike anything I used to see in broad daylight. I remember I was about four years old, with a newborn baby brother, and I was so scared to close my eyes at night. It had become a recurrent bad dream. When I told my mom about it, she treated the occurrence as something worthy of analysis, and she gave me space to talk about it, instead of dismissing it as the product of an overactive mind. At least then, she did listen to me. To this day, I'm still not entirely sure of what that dreary figure meant, or means, but I eventually stopped dreaming about it and it went away.
Nowadays, the recurring nightmares I have speak more about the person I am than of the monsters I've met. Countless times I've dreamt of not being able to save someone very close to me. But this means I have people in my life worthy of being saved, for whom I'd give my life gladly. It also says that I care about them and love them, truly. Another dream I often have involves losing the battle to my own darkness, which scares me to death because I don't really want to die, I just want out of this craziness. Out means found, rather than lost. It means I want a change, a meaningful one. And this nightmare reminds me of that wish and the willingness to work for it, even when it gets so fucking hard to do so.
A few weeks ago, I found the printed copy of the first short story I wrote. Interestingly enough, it was a nightmare of mine that I decided to write down. It took a whole new meaning, and it became something precious and beautiful for me. I remember how proud my grandma was; her granddaughter was going to be a writer, and she seemed like she could be good at it. Family members took turns to read the silly ramblings of this (then) 13-year-old and laughed at the wittiness of the words, the brightness of the scenes. They didn't know, of course, that they were looking straight into the void: my unconsciousness.
If you're still reading, thank you, and welcome to yet another untouched, unpublished piece of my mind. These words I'll share with you are as meaningless, or full of meaning, as the next, in the sense that they are mine. This story was written originally in Spanish, and as I type this, I haven't yet translated it, so I'm not sure you'll be able to find value in it. But I hope so. Just because it's mine and no one else's; just because it was my brain that dreamt of it all and decided to write it down for posterity.
You are walking through a wooded area, gloomy and lonely. There are no noises, only a deadly silence that weakens your senses. You can see how the landscape becomes blurred, and slowly and distressingly disappears. You are plunged into a black, deep, and absorbing nothingness. Your body and its forms melt into it as if they had always belonged to it. Violently, your consciousness realizes that you will never return, that you will never be what you hoped to be. At the same time, not without pain and despair, you feel how your consciousness begins to erase itself and your memories. You will feel no more.
"I love you so much...", I thought as you walked away from me without saying goodbye. On the way home, I couldn't assimilate the fact that someday you would disappear from my heart without a word. I had to sit on the sidewalk for a while, breathing heavily. Reality overwhelmed me, transforming my thoughts into a dark and turbulent tangle. I ended up hitting the road, after thinking about it for a while, as I had planned to meet my mom and spend the afternoon together. When I finally met up with her, we decided to go for a walk and arrived at a bright and crowded place, one of those where people seek to escape from everyday life and mingle with the immense tumult of people and words.
The first storefront that caught my eye was that of an outdoor hiking store, whose window display featured a series of items with some connection between them, but at the same time disordered. "Bike, boots, backpack, backpack, thermos, stuffed monkey, canteens, hats, and balaclavas...", I listed slowly trying to figure out what was wrong. Suddenly, I noticed that the stuffed monkey seemed to be alive, or rather, it actually was. My heart skipped a beat as I noticed that the poor animal was trapped in a small glass box, with no oxygen inside.
It all happened very quickly. The little animal came out of its torpor and began to move violently against the glass of the showcase, pushing its glass enclosure. Simultaneously, a boy of no more than fifteen years of age passed by, stumbled into the display case, and knocked over all the objects in it. The little monkey was crushed under the boot cases, with the glass of his prison buried in his heart. Blood began to gush out. I became fully aware of the huge bicycle coming down on me, about to plunge into my body just as it had happened to the poor little animal. At the same time, I woke up.
EDIT: After typing the prelude and the first act, I noticed this post was going to be way too long, so I decided to break it down into two. Tune in tomorrow to read the rest of the story, if you're keen! And please, let me know what you think. Is all of this too crazy?
Sources of the images:
📷 by Jr Korpa
📷 by Jr Korpa
📷 by Denisse Leon
I'd like to thank you for reading this. I hope my words resonated with you in some way. If they did, or even if they didn't, I'd like to further connect with you, so I invite you to drop a comment and I'll answer it as soon as I can.