Thursday, January 20, 2011
Welcome to My Nightmare
It was always the same. No matter how I raged at myself to stop it, to stay on the shore, I inevitably ended up in the ocean, lazy and careless. I opened my eyes and my mouth clamped down on the scream threatening to claw its way from my throat. Black now, the watery depths became nothing more than a pool of ink from which no light glittered. In the distance, the shore teased me with its safety, a golden patch on the horizon. I hovered over the abyss, my limbs like cement, my heart slamming against my ribs.
Would they be able to hear it? The syncopation of my organs pulsed the blood through my veins like the distressed flutter of a fish as it struggled against the current. I eyed the island, knowing I would never make it. I knew I would try anyway, knew I would fail. The current stopped, leaving me in a pool of silence, the water still and even. I held my breath, the barest movement threatening to broadcast my presence in the telltale ripples that would surely mean my doom.
Something brushed past my feet, and I bit my lip at its sandpaper sharpness. Like teeth for skin, biting and hooking into my flesh. I fought the urge to yank my foot away and closed my eyes.
Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop.
My mouth formed the words in an empty prayer. There was another sharp tickle – a tug – jolting me from my ankle to my thigh. I looked down, already knowing what I would see, the scream forming on my lips. Blood poured from my midsection, my legs gone, cut out from under me.
When the fin broke the watery surface, my mind blanked, my arms flailing uselessly. I struggled toward that golden shore, the current suddenly picking up again. Sometimes I almost made it.
The shark snapped at me, pain replacing fear, and all around me was the taste of blood and salt and death, my wailing voice ebbing into a haunted gurgle as it finally pulled me under the darkness…
- A Brush of Darkness
I’ve mentioned before that A Brush of Darkness stemmed from a dream…but parts of it were also drawn from my own nightmares. I often have dreams like the one above, usually when there’s something I need to do or look at. Though the setting may change – an aquarium, the bay, the ocean – the shark always remains the same. Sometimes it’s more than one (though it's almost always a Great White). My dream self knows the shark will be there. Sometimes I even see the fin, but no matter what I do, I *always* end up in the water with it.
Seems like an odd thing to dream about, but for me there is just something so primal about sharks in general. Maybe they're just tapping into my caveman brain. Maybe it's because I saw Jaws when I was ten and it scarred me for life. (And as a lovely aside, the events in Jaws were actually based on a series of shark attacks in 1912. Where? On Long Beach Island. Where I spent every summer growing up. Okay, maybe NOT so odd that I might have symbolically have issues with them...though I certainly don't have a phobia of any sort.)
Thankfully, I either wake up or barely manage to escape before something terrible happens. I still get freaked out by the concept. Hell, even when I play World of Warcraft and end up swimming out in the ocean all alone (and there *are* beasties out there), I get genuinely upset.
Thus far this week, we’ve been discussing dreams in general and there have been some wonderful discussions about it, but nightmares are a part of dreaming as well, especially repeating ones. I’m sure some nightmares are random – if I’d watched Jaws and then dreamed about sharks that night, I wouldn’t think much of it, for example. But timing with dreams can really make a difference. I’ve come to recognize that it usually means I need to pay attention to something in my life. If I can pinpoint the stressor and either defeat it or deal with it, the shark dreams recede.
Anyone out there have recurring nightmares or dreams that you think mean something?