There is a man who visits me in my dreams. I wish I knew how to draw him, or at least describe him, but the thing is, I have never seen him before in my life. And what’s even stranger is that I still recognize his face.
I just happen to forget it the moment I wake up. Yet...yet he looks so familiar. How can you recognize someone but not know how they look like? I wonder that often too.
This man doesn’t visit me every single night, but does so once in awhile. He rarely speaks. And when he does, he doesn't say much, either.
I haven’t replied to him...not yet. I don’t know how to. What am I even supposed to say to a stranger like him?
I tell this to my favorite teacher this morning at school — not about the man, but about the dream I had last night, and she replies just the way I thought she would.
— Those are just dreams, Lia. Just dreams, just nightmares.
I smile and nod, because she is correct in a sense. I don’t want to argue with someone who is saying something just. That is why Miss Nilson is my favorite teacher.
— Why don’t you write it down in your poem book? You know, the one where you write all your lovely poems in?
— That’s a great idea, Miss Nilson. I’ll do exactly that.
And that’s what I do. I open my poem book and write a poem. It takes me a while, this one, but I know what I want to say. But what I really, really want to do is to talk about him. The one that visited me yesterday.
Plow, plow through the swamp
You can’t leave, they say
Only when you’ve plenty crowns
The size of rings,
Which rest on the heads
Of the most haunting creatures,
Living on a rocky island,
Surrounding them, ships of warriors and sharp waves.
With heads of an alligator, and
Bodies of a fishman,
Only when you’ve sliced with a dagger
The center of their backs,
And rip out their spines
Will they shrivel into sans,
Releasing their crowns and
Giving you your freedom.
I didn’t mention him for a specific reason. I always fear that someone will find out about him and whisk him away. That’s why I’m keeping him in a special place called secrecy. I’m protecting him like he’s a crystal ball, and I, the palms that cup him.
Once I finish my poem and return to the place where I live, Muther Fru comes. I call my mother “Muther Fru” for many reasons. I think the word “mom” and “mother” are too bland for my taste. A word like “muther” sounds fun on the tongue.
This is what Muther Fru says to me when she steps in:
— Did you talk to Miss Nilson?
And to that, I reply:
— Of course I did. She’s my only teacher.
— And, what did you talk about?
— About numerous things.
— Did you talk about your dream? I’m sure Miss Nilson would love to hear about them.
— You told me that yesterday, so I made sure to do that.
I never really argue with Muther Fru, not necessarily because I think she is always right, but because if I do, she won’t let me go outside later. Going outside is very important to me, so I try not to get on the bad side of Muther Fru. I would rather go sit by the pond than spend the whole afternoon locked inside my room.
— I’m so relieved to hear that. I’ll make sure to go talk to Miss Nilson later this week.
— Why do you do that, Muther Fru?
What I mean by this is: why does Muther Fru go talk to Miss Nilson every weekend? I don’t understand why she has to meet my teacher when she is just Muther Fru, not a student like I am.
— It’s because she helps me learn what you learned, sweet Lia.
— I don’t tell her everything; you won’t learn much.
And to this, Muther Fru’s voice turns sharp.
— Why aren’t you telling Miss Nilson everything?
— There are some things I don’t want to tell her.
— Like what, for example?
— Like the man.
— The man?
— Him, Muther Fru.
Sometimes I get impatient when Muther Fru isn’t fast enough to understand what I’m talking about. She has nothing to do in the house, anyways, and has no one else to talk to, so how can she not understand who 'him' is?
— Now I remember. I’ll talk to you about him later. Right now, I need you to go out to the pond.
— So you’re not going to make me stay in?
— No, I won’t.
— Why do I have to go out?
I say this not because I don’t want to go out, but because I am curious. Muther Fru usually tries to keep me inside the house, so this is new.
— Our new neighbor, the one who just moved in two weeks ago, wants to come visit us later for some drinks.
— Oh, that makes sense.
Now I understand why. Muther Fru is caring for me. She knows I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. That’s why she is sending me to the pond. I’m glad she thought for me.