It is mid-morning the next day when everything began to feels normal. Mom even gives me a few web assignments to do before she leaves for the store. “Here's my list. I've highlighted the events I'd like you to write up,” she tells me.
I push aside my bowl of cereal and glance over the page. When I look back up I see that she is eyeing me, an expression of concern pressed on her face. “What?”
“What?” I ask again.
She gives her head a little shake as she turns and opens the door. “Just skip it if you get too tired.”
“Don’t worry. I feel fine.” The look of concern she gives me pulls a snort from me. “Mom, a few posts are not going to wear me out.”
She catches the door and turns to me. “Then maybe you should consider getting dressed today.” I look down at my cotton tank top and boxer ensemble. “But remember, you promised to stay home.”
I give a loud exaggerated sigh. “Yes, Mom, I know. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Maybe I could take a half day …”
I roll my eyes. “Mom, please just go already. There's nothing to worry about. I'm fine.”
“Okay.” She brightens. “I'll call you later.”
Then she is gone and I am alone in a house that is way, way too quiet. I last about five more minutes before I get up and flip on the T.V. Noisy dialog fills the room and makes me feel a little less alone.
I go to my room and pull open the blinds to let the light in. The piles of books stacked willy-nilly here and there catch my eye and I vow to sort them out later but only pause to make my bed before I slide behind my computer and work on the web posts. I snort when I check my email and find two more assignments from her.
Mom can blog but for her it’s an effort. For me it’s easy and fun, like a puzzle or a game as I hunt down the right graphic and plug in working links. I work at my computer for another hour before I get up. A glance at the clock assures me that the mail must be here so I slip on my shoes and go out front to get it.
I find the mailbox stuffed with letters, flyers and catalogs. Being that Mom is a shop owner, we always get tons of junk mail and I shuffle through it before I stop to wave to our kind, old neighbor, Dodie when I see her watering her roses.
She gives me a little wave. “Morning Rachel.”
“Good morning, Dodie,” I reply before I carry the mail back to the porch. I disturb a big, fat lizard sunning himself as I approach the house. He scurries from his rock and disappears into a knot of mint releasing the sweet fragrance into the air as he flees.
Mom likes to garden and our yard shows it. Raised beds stretch out under the shade of the eves, thick with aromatic herbs while poppies, zinnias, larkspurs, geraniums, snapdragons and sweet alyssum create a border of color along the walk. Front and back, our yard is an organic refuge for the tiny desert wildlife that make their home in the dense growth of flowers and herbs and take shelter in the nest of creeping fig. A gurgling fountain provides a constant supply of water to the neighborhood birds. At night geckos creep out to cling to the windows in wait of creepy crawlers while toads and scorpions stalk the shadows.
I settle on a step in the shade and shuffle through the mail. A catalogue catches my eye and I'm lazily leafing through it when I spy our other neighbor, Creepy Tom, watching me from his front swing. At least it looks like he's watching, but I think I was born paranoid because when I am brave enough to sneak another peek, it seems he is doing exactly what I am. I watch as he takes a sip from his coffee mug. When he looks down to open another letter, I gather up the mail and return to the comfort of closed confines before he can look up again.
The door closes behind me shutting out the beautiful day. I pause in the living room as I try to settle on something to do but the light filtering through the blinds is dim, and without mom around, the house feels hollow. So I carry the mail to my room where I stretch out on my bed and leaf through the catalogues. My eyes go to the clock as I wonder when Babette might call. I think of her, far across the ocean in a place where it is already night. Her warning drifts through my thoughts as I reach for another catalogue. The wind carries your name...I open the catalogue but my thoughts are still with Babette. Perhaps it doesn’t anymore and that’s why Mahomet has fallen silent? I snuggle into the pillows and try to stay interested in the catalogue but it isn’t long before my body relaxes. My eyelids grow heavy and…
… I find myself in black empty space, standing on something rigid and unnatural. It’s definitely manmade or at least it’s meant to appear that way. A green electric glow traces a pathway stretching upward in front of me. I bump against a rubber covered handrail as the mechanical drone of a motor starts to whirl. Then the platform begins to moves sending me upward and I realize I'm standing on an escalator, the metal groves of the stairs rise to poke uncomfortably into my bare feet.
I look around and realize I must be in some kind of enormous mall with an open-air court because palms line the escalator. They softly stir in the breeze to shift and swirl shadows cast by the moon above. The moon is gigantic and more beautiful than I've ever seen it before. It hangs huge and luminous overhead in the night sky.
I ride quietly up until it spits me out onto a silent floor. I take a single step forward only to stop and stand completely still for a moment as I wonder where I am and why I might be here in this strange place. I turn to my left to see a wall of glass enclosing a long, silent hall. On my right is another stretching away from the open space. From here all I can see are rows of closed doors on the other side. As I stand starring I realize that I must be in a giant hotel or an empty office building that's closed for the night.
It’s very quiet. I prick my ears and listen but the only sound is the soft chug of the escalator as it continues up to the next floor. I cross the distance to where the escalator continues and step on to ride up another flight. A strong gust of wind breezes through my hair, drawing it to stream out and lash around my face. I run my fingers through it and catch it back. The moonlight shifts and shivers with the shadows of the palms. I glance up and catch sight of a moon that is small and unremarkable. Confusion brushes through my thoughts as I gaze at the orb. Just moments ago it was an enormous, illuminating wonder. My brow wrinkles as I wonder how my earlier impression could be so wrong for this moon is just like any other. I am still contemplating it when I turn to cast a curious glance at the landscape behind me.
Below, the escalator stretches out for half a dozen stories. Most of the floors below are dark and quiet like the one I'm traversing. Only the first and second floor mill with activity. Far to my left I see the outline of a pool and the idea that I'm in a huge hotel solidifies.
I turn forward, and this time when I catch sight of the moon, once again I behold a magnificent glowing disk hanging low in the night sky. My eyes are still fixed on it when the escalator spits me out on the next floor. I step off and I am wondering if I should continue up or just return to the floor below when I notice that the glass door of the hall on my right is standing open, and just past it, light glows from an open door beyond. Before I can even consider what I should do, I drift forward to step through the glass. A shiver races across my skin as I step across the threshold, the faint buzz of something electric. It leaves a subtle taste of metal in my mouth but curiosity has its hooks in me so I don’t acknowledge it. All of my attention is for the room with the flickering light.
I cross the hall and give the door a little shove and my eyes flash wide when I find myself looking into an Egyptian museum exhibit. A large statue of a cat holds the prominent place on a table lit by the flicking light of a myriad of candle flames glowing all around. The air is fragrant with the scent of incense and the sweet perfume of flowers. I creep in marveling at the towering ceilings and the enormous red stone pillars holding them up. Every surface seems to be artfully carved in gleaming symbols while life-size statues formed from the red granite guard the doorway. Curling smoke rises from incense burning on the table at the center. It catches my attention and I drift closer watching as it curls carrying prayers up to the heavens.
I take in the elegantly carved image of the cat and the offerings all around and that's when it hits me that this is not an exhibit but a temple to some deity. I freeze as the understanding that I'm standing barefoot, in my pjs, in someone's sacred space fills me, and in that amplified, crystal-clear moment, I know that I am trespassing. A quick side-to-side glance assures me that I am alone. Still my heart is thundering as I back to the door. A movement from the corner catches my eyes. I swallow hard and whip my head around to see a large, dark cat sleeker than any I've ever seen lounging on a pillow. Elegant tufts of fur grace its ears. I stare at it as it watches me with large unblinking green-gold eyes, lovely eyes that from this distance appear to be lined in gold. We watch each other for a long moment. Then it flicks its tail and turns its attention to licking its paw.
My eyes are still fixed on it when I back out the door…
The dream is still with me when I wake. I roll out of bed and pull open the drawer of my nightstand. Under a magazine and a forgotten calendar, I find the fat blue book. A stenciled moon embellishes the otherwise plain, blue leather cover. I run my fingers over it as I sit on the edge of my bed and will my thoughts to return to the dream. I catch it in wispy chunks and hold it tight as I flip to the first blank page.
Yeah, so I journal, but it’s not the whiny mundane stuff you might think. I don't track my waking life. The book was my teacher, Omar's idea. You see, I've had strange and wonderful dreams since before I can remember just none like the ones I've been having lately. He told me once that I should record my travels in the astral and that very day I started keeping this log.
I begin a new entry and in as much detail as I can remember, I log the dream. I am able to fill half a page before the finer nuances vaporizes into the ether leaving me with just the brightest bits. When I'm finished, I reread the entry imprinting it on my conscious mind then I just sit there on the edge of the bed, thumping my pen as some half-knowing something holds me hostage. Hazy bits float up, a walk across water, a woman in a white medical coat…I sit there for a long time as my thoughts work to dredge up a journey to a place somewhere in-between where the rules were completely different and I worked afterhours at a hospital…I snatch the image and hold it to the light and I remember the table in the room with three walls and how my hands had warmed when I laid them on the man and I jot it down. I jot it all down.
I fill a whole page before I glance at the window. By the look of the sun I can tell I've slept away the morning and by the empty feel of my stomach I'm thinking maybe even part of the afternoon. Sure enough my bedside clock proclaims it’s past one. Lunch hour at school has come and gone. I grab up my cell and see that I have one missed text from Patrick.
2day in Bio, Suzie tripped and fell on her ass. Every1 lol. 2 bad U missed it!
I know it’s not very Zen, but I am smiling when I go into the kitchen to hunt for something for lunch.