Another Vivian: Stand By

Vivian stood her ground.

“Times are different now,” she said. “I am different.”

She looked out over the unlimited landscape that sprawled before her – dense green forest with lingering fog, mountains beyond the sky concealing deep fertile valleys begging lonely discovery. A tornadic world of life swirled around her, gently folding her long, sturdy garment about her pillared frame.

“Then go,” the voice said. “Go now.”

The door closed behind her. She waited fearfully for the sound of the latch locking her out.


Vivian concentrated on the horizon, breathed in the soft mist and felt her feet start to rise from the ground. She reached down and grabbed a hold of her leather satchel stuffed with books and papers and dreams. The weight of it did not pull her down yet lifted her higher off the ground. “If am to go, I’d better go,” she thought with hopeful confidence. Her hand went instinctively to her heart and grasped the locket hanging by the long gold chain. Vivian’s eyes closed and the images rushed in front of her, encircling her in love and protection. She began to elevate from the earthen porch leaving only footprints from her long wait to takeoff.

The snake appeared without a sound and was firmly wrapped around her leg, pulling her back to the ground before Vivian heard the first hiss. Its scales were cold and rough against her skin, forcing her muscles to contract in immediate distress. The hand of a black cloud covered her mouth, smothering her screams before they had a chance to fully form. An invisible weight pushed her whole body into the dirt, trapping her satchel underneath her as vines of poison ivy began to wind their way around her arms pulling in opposite directions.

Vivian wanted to fight. She wanted to struggle against the fury that so simply snatched her out of her intended flight. She wished for strength to kick off the snake, begged with muffled cries for courage to bite the hand that kept her down and held her breath trying to evaporate against the punishing weight. She pleaded for relief from the burning itch searing through her from the angry poison-formed welts streaking across her skin.

Yet, she did nothing.

She allowed the snake to crush her legs ever tighter in its attempts to engulf her. She clenched her mouth giving in to the cloud that was growing denser by the second. She was beginning to implode under the pressure of the force, bruising her heart and lungs with each moment she let pass. She refused to permit tears to escape for fear of creating a shallow pool of mud in which she would then drown.

Vivian needed to act. She needed to do something but had no idea where to begin the battle. It was all too much, there were too many familiar forces at work and she didn’t believe she stood a chance against the lot of them. Her life’s power was fading away and she was not stopping its retreat.

A hand, not unlike her own, reached out from the abyss and gently touched her at the top of her spinal column. An electrifying jolt exploded throughout her body and a small gaping wound began growing at its touch point.

Vivian involuntarily went limp. The flesh around the wound started to gently rip apart revealing her bare muscle and vertebrae. The hands so much like hers assisted the tear with a loving caress widening the crevice of her human casing. It took only moments before Vivian was split completely open from the base of her skull to the tip of her tailbone.

She was alive and yet felt no pain. She felt like she could finally move more freely. Vivian’s interior form began to separate itself out of the flesh so stricken with the sudden afflictions. She pulled her chin and face down to her chest forever severing her eyes from their eyelids, her jaw from its lips and her hair from its crown. With a necessarily violent cleaving, Vivian curled her legs and arms up into a fetal position. She lay there for a moment, bloody and sinewy, cradling herself in the comfort of her old skin. Vivian knew once she emerged from it, she could never successfully replace it around her frame. Yet, it was difficult to imagine being anywhere else.

The beautiful hands helping her reached in around Vivian’s huddled form and embraced the nearly gelatinous mass. No longer able to have closed eyes, Vivian saw her rescuer. She raised her crimson hand up and touched a cheek parallel to her own. The woman smiled upon on Vivian with love and acceptance, and then brought her frail body out of the remnants of the lifeless carcass.

The face Vivian saw, the eyes that mirrored back and the smile the radiated peace were all her own.

“How can this be?” Vivian rasped softly from shredded vocal cords.

“How could it not?” was the reply. “There has always been more to you than snakes and dark clouds.”

The woman’s firm and gentle hold on Vivian began to fuse with her exposed flesh, healing the bareness, protecting her inner organs and reforming the outer layers of her body. Vivian was becoming whole again and together with this mysterious woman from her eternal self, they were creating the transformation.

As they reformed themselves, their feet once again began to lift off the ground. Vivian reached down for her satchel and was halted by her new arms.

“Leave it. We’ll make new,” her voice echoed.

Vivian chose not to look back at her empty shell being devoured by the demons she helped manifest. It would have to lie there and rot into nothing while Vivian flew the skies in peace.

Of dreamers and dreams

Four a.m. Someone, something throws water on my face trying to wrestle me back into consciousness. It stings but I do not fully awaken, only enough to be aware of what is playing out. My body lies still, paralyzed in either fear or anticipation of what is to come. I watch in horror as my babies slip through my fingers into a rushing river, the love of my life disappears inside a savage tornado, a gun is pointed to my head and the trigger pulled over and over and over sending shock waves through each molecule in my being. The only thing I can register as reality is the sweat these scenes generate, soaking my bed sheets until I shiver under the weight of its dampness.

What is a dream? Why do we have them? I’ve heard they are our subconscious seeking ways to sort out our underlying fears and frustrations. The players in the dream simply represent part of ourselves that we are unable to come to terms with during waking hours. Reliving past hurts or joys under rapid eye movements. I have a cursory awareness of what Freud and Jung thought regarding them but after reading a few paragraphs, my head starts to spin. Some cultures believe dreams represent symbols to tell the future or our struggles in an altered plane of existence. Recent theorists now lean more toward their meaninglessness than anything else – random visions created by random stimuli before dozing off.

Mostly, they frustrate the fuck out of me.

The room is shadowed in late evening sun. There is a piano and smell of lilacs. We are dancing. Holding one another in a tender embrace that is of pure light. He sings a song gently in my ear, words I know I will recognize upon awakening when they are played on the radio. We laugh and touch as two old souls who chose to walk an ethereal plane while others merely close their doors. It is not sexual, it is a deep knowing closeness that we share. The light gets brighter. It always does. And the music turns into an electronic beeping ripping us away with barely the time to whisper goodbye until we can find each other again.

I want some of my dreams to have significance and true meaning for my awakened soul. Others, I want to forget and give into their nothingness. Can I have it both ways? Of course, I can do anything I want. The battle lies somewhere in between as my inner hall monitor waves her red flag, screaming “You have to chose! You have to chose!”

The history of me has been riddled with nightmares – true, baffling, body-thrashing, involuntary shrieking and a forceful cleaving into rapid consciousness. Images of dead relatives rising from their coffins as I try to bash their skulls back down with a sledgehammer. Desperate chases as someone has taken my child from me and I cannot rescue them before they are lost over a bridge into a flood. The worst are the dreams where I am dreaming of being in bed asleep only to be awakened in the dream by one of these horrors. Distinguishing the line between dream and reality becomes much too difficult for my brain to determine until it is too late and I am writhing in mental anguish, praying for the end to come quickly or the sun to wake me.

There are great dreams, too, where I fly through the skies and know I was meant to. I dream of reading my inauguration poem for the nation on a beautiful, crisp day in Washington DC. Riding whales and horses, holding very old hands with my husband and traveling to distant lands I might not ever get to see when I am awake. I have dreams with my familiar on journeys fantastical or snuggling comfort where the gentle purring echoes long passed awakening. Or the miracle life growing inside of an empty space where my uterus used to be.

The long studied, over analyzed and clearly undefinable classic human conflicts – accepting the desired good with the perceived bad, embracing the dark while living in the light, giving to receive, receiving to give, taking a risk in order to be safe, coke versus pepsi, if it’s okay to go, then it’s okay to stay, less filling or great taste, honoring the flag through civil disobedience, opposites attracting, “to be or not to be” and an entire universe fitting within the nucleus of a single atom.

All of these are in us as humanity – in me as part of that larger family.

Is this what I dream of?

Or am I dreaming right now?

I am driving down a dirt road and see him walking in a crowd of people. He is sobbing and lost. I pull over to talk to him and he tells me a story I cannot bear to hear. Or repeat. I fly into a rage and try to determine if I am awake or asleep. He turns into cake as I rip him apart yelling no, no, no. I lash out at the world trying to make sense of it all. My body rolls over and I see the clock. Four a.m.