No one seems to know where their dreams come from or where their dreams begin. I often remember the dreams I wake up with but then they fade away in the sunlight, their music drowned out by the waking day, most often forgotten before the return of the night.
I cannot remember the beginning of a single dream, except one. That one was the strangest dream. Perhaps it was not even a dream. How can you know for sure?
Once I lived up in the rolling, green Catskill Mountains and two nights a week I slept all alone while my husband worked in the city. Our house was on top of Four Acre Hill which stretched out behind us to the east, all carefully mowed and full of sunlight in the morning and shadows in the afternoon. In the evenings when I was alone I used to like to sit in the big, blue armchair in the living room and watch the squirrels and birds and sometimes a rabbit or two.
At first I noticed an amorphous shape which seemed to pulsate in the shadows of the treeline at the bottom of the hill like a huge, gray mushroom fading in and out or perhaps spinning very quickly. I tucked one foot under myself and leaned forward to get a cleaner view and to cut off the reflections in the plate glass window. At once there were six or seven figures already halfway up the hill, all short and moving quickly towards the house, one in the front looking straight at me with a face like a mask and great, dark, shining eyes. I felt a wave of cold fear and the face was suddenly right in front of me, inches away, no plate glass window between us and everything more silent than I have ever known. Then, darkness, the black of nothing, not the black of sleep when dreams have not yet come, not the black in which you are still yourself and time still travels. No, this was the black of anesthesia, of nonexistence, caught between moments while time continued in some other corner of reality. Then, the sudden realization that the night was over, the faint light of day was washing the eastern sky and I was still, or perhaps again, in the big, blue armchair in the living room facing the window looking over the hill.
Surely, I didn’t sleep in that chair all night. Uncomfortable, cramped, one foot under my body, not even lying down?
Where had the night gone? And, the shadowy shape at the bottom of the hill? Was it still there, fading away, receeding into an anti-time warp, leaving behind only a quivering aura? Completely gone before the sunrise and I was still right as rain, no pain, no bruise, no mark on body or mind, no memory, no evidence, no proof but a missing night and a possible dream which broke all the rules.