Shedding the Shadows of Sunlight: A Dream from a Twisted Reality

October 31, 2007
By
It started out confusing. Like an alternate reality just swooping in on me and grabbing a hold of my senses. Things were simple at first, and the transitions between worlds were easy enough to understand. They were both of the same place: my grandmother’s house in Burnt Corn Valley, AZ. The house was situated, as always, in the middle of the surrounding brush and buildings, simple and blue stucco-ed. The large cotton wood tree that is no more than 30 years old and is one that held a lot of my childhood memories, along with several cuts and bruises, sat neatly beside the house, close enough so that the branches stretched out and touched the rooftop, but far enough away as to still be aesthetically pleasing. The small wooden tool shed sat beside the house, adjacent to the north where the bathroom jutted out to form and odd shape. Twenty feet away was the Hogan that I grew up in and knew for most of my life as “my home” whenever I went back to that dirt encrusted valley. Behind that, a trailer that held my possessions up until the age of 5 and housed me through most of the fights my mother and father had. That belonged to my aunt now. She lived there alone, with her daughter who was off in college, and sometimes her sister who came back to that windy valley quite often. 50 yards away to the north of this cluster of homes and memories, was my other aunt’s new house. Hand built and home-furnished it stood cinder-block gray and beautifully hand crafted. The way it blended in with the baby blue sky that framed it along with the green speckled mesas created and urban-cowboy look.
This world was doubled and replicated exactly. From the watering truck, to the corn fields, and the homes of the sheep and horses that nestled in neatly beside the chicken coop, it was duplicated exactly. Everything was there in one world. Perfect and thriving as it always had been in each one of my memories, but there was another world. This one was empty and desolate. This held nothing but my siblings and I in the middle of what looked like home, but what felt like nowhere. Cymbre, Kyle, and I were all alone, with one other patron that I cannot place or name. She was a female that was nearly my age, and I knew to be a friend—maybe even closer than that—but I could not place a name or face with. She was family though. We were there in this alternate world, together, yet alone. We stood beside the shed, out looking onto the cropped mesas and empty, weeded, dirt lands that rose before our eyes. We watched. For anything or for anyone that we felt was coming and coming fast, beginning to show up. No matter what loneliness we felt, we did not want that company to join us. I had no knowledge, at first, of whom it was we were watching out for, but I knew that I did not want them to find me or my family. We worked together on something while we weren’t watching the rolling hills for some signs of an on comer. I don’t remember exactly what it was we were working on, but it must not have been important enough for us to continue even at the signs of an intruder into our lonely solace. The dream shifted around me, and it felt as if my mind was trying to pull me into another direction, into a better place to be rather than in this dream world of frightening futures.
This dream world was exactly like the other one, in appearance. It had all of the similar structures, and all of the same features. The sun crossed the sky and stopped at exactly the same point in the sky, casting its shadow through the leaves of the trees to be scattered across the ground in imaginary flickers of dark water. Everything was the same, except here…there was life. I say life because here, there were others than us four. I also noticed that here, the chickens were in their pens and picking dedicatedly at the corn scattered across the ground of their wire home, and the sheep baaed along on their path to the distant windmill for a drink of water, the goat’s kids jumping and running along feebly in the underbrush. The horses trotted along to their watering trough where they drank and ate their morning’s feed.
Everything was blooming with life. I remember seeing my cousins running along beside the outstretching cornfield in a barefoot rez race, laughing all the while kicking up the light dirt beneath their feet. Their brown faces and their eyes displayed all of the emotion and happiness that was surrounding them while they attempted to outrun the other in an imaginary tournament of speed. I remember seeing my aunts and my mothers sitting underneath the shadows of the shade-house, preparing the day’s lunch. The shade house stood adjacent to my grandmother’s house on the south side, where it caught most of the breeze and more of the light, which is why dried leaves and corn stalks were thrown onto the roof made of chicken wire and wood posts to hide its occupier’s from the sun’s rays. They all smiled and laughed, and although I watched them with my brother and sister’s (I’m assuming the other girl with us was my miscarried sister) I felt hardly any of the happiness that they felt. I saw everything, the light, the smiles, the children, I heard the laughter, but none of it seemed to affect me. It felt as if I was shielded from this happiness and I was trying so hard to push my way through this invisible barrier that we all seemed to be stuck behind.
I felt trapped in a shadow of this thing to come, this thing looming over our home like an angry protestor. I and my siblings were the only ones that seemed to notice this dreaded feeling of something coming through the hills to try and capture us.
We continued to watch the life swarming around us, captivated by the light and all its magnificence. We continued to be covered in this invisible shadow as all around us swarmed and thrived in time. We seemed to be stuck here, alone.
The dream once again shifted to that which there was no life, as if we were still stuck here, but catching a glimpse of what is happening out side this desolate land in our other lives filled with love and laughter. I watched as my mother and aunts faded, my cousins ran off into the distance, where they simmered as if they were merely a mirage cast by the sun. In this other world, there was no sun. It was in the sky, but is cast none of the warmth usually felt and It’s light was dim and weak. We worked again, all pausing for that one moment to watch our other lives in the other world fade before our very eyes. In a dream, time passes quickly, sometimes at “normal speed” even though you know it is supposed to be passing through a long period of time. It’s as if your brain is “fast forwarding” through all the fillers and non-important parts to get to the big scenes or the climaxes. Why? Maybe so you can see fully of what the dream is trying to tell you, maybe so you can catch a sense of the dream’s meaning. Or maybe your mind gets bored because it predicts all the filler space and simply skips through it so it can get to the action-y parts because you work that way too…fillers are boring. I don’t know exactly, but this is what my mind did with my dream. A long period of time, in which we were merely working and saying minimal words to one another passed quickly in a matter of nanoseconds.
Then, a sound reached my ears. It wasn’t one that was happening in reality, it was one that was in my head but one that I could hear clearly as if it was. It was a heavy roar that sputtered and stalled very frequently, but wasn’t the roar of something big. We all pause our work once again, hearts racing, curiosity and courage fighting within us. Slowly, we all look up one by one. We had been working with stones in between or behind my grandmother’s house and our homely-Hogan. Even though the tree would have obstructed our view, we were some how able to see right through it, out to the road that stretched in between the mountains that encased us in our valley. The road was far, but in my mind’s eye, I was able to “zoom-in” if you must, and see exactly what it was that was making that roaring sound that was tumbling along the road. It was coming.
The thing that we dreaded was coming along on the dirt road that led straight for our house, which is where we were all standing dumb-founded to the spot. The initial shock of seeing this again caused us to drop the loads we were carrying and stare dumbly at it to see if it would simmer and fade like my mirage-cousins had done before. It didn’t fade; it still continued to come along the narrow dirt path, bouncing along on the bumps and potholes that grew into the road before it.
It was his truck. He didn’t own it anymore, but I knew it was his, and a truck like that will always be his. I knew it was him that was coming. The old white Chevy bounced along, its roll cage stretching from one end behind the driver’s and passenger’s seat to the other. The truck’s mass seemed to be too much at every turn and seemed as if it would tilt and fall over, or simply break apart and scatter along the road with every bump that it hit. I knew it wouldn’t though. I knew that deep down, we wouldn’t see its parts break apart and fly along the road like a jigsaw puzzle, I knew he would make it to where we now stood. The wide light bar on the top of the truck was dull, but still it shimmered and gleamed in the dull sun’s rays. Through this “zoomed-in” eye I was able to clearly see the faded paint of the star decal stuck to the side of the dirty-white truck. The camper that was permanently attached to the cab of the truck and separated it only by the roll cage danced along with the truck’s large frame. The windows were mucky, as if the unit had been impounded and sat in the lot for only God knows how long, only to be resurrected in my dreams as a symbol of the one that left us long ago. I could see everything clearly, and as if looking through binoculars, my lenses slowly pulled toward the front of the truck as it bounced along the dirt road towards us. Slowly, I could see the tires turning and kicking up the dust that trailed behind it. Slowly, I could hear the roaring rumble of the engine and the metal clank of the truck’s parts and the banged against each other with every bump in the road. Slowly, my lenses traced the truck’s body, all the way from the back bumper, to nearing the cab in the front. I came so close to seeing this ghostly figure sitting behind the wheel of his old truck, but I couldn’t stand it. I don’t think I would have been able to see the face of the man that had gone away, only to return every now and then in my disappointing dreams and disturbing nightmares. I couldn’t have been able to stand it. So I looked away.
I shifted my gaze to the ground at my feet so that I would not have to see his bright blue eyes or his pointed eye-teeth. The zoom came out of my vision and I glanced back up to see the figure of his truck teetering along the road towards my grandmother’s house. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to leave, to get as far away from him as possible. This place, this land was supposed to be my only safe haven from his gazes and accusations of disrespect, now he was tainting it by driving away my family and bringing in the shadowed darkness of the never-burning sun. I was frozen to the spot. My legs were incapable of moving and it seemed as if my brother and sisters were exactly the same way, wanting to leave, but not knowing how.
Then I heard a voice in my head. One of them was screaming. One of them found their courage. One of them was trying to protect us from this demon in father form riding in a unit from my memories. It was Kyle. He screamed at us to run. He screamed at us to hide. We needed to get away and fast, because He was coming. I remember in my dream, being pulled toward my second home. The small Hogan that had barely acquired running water and electricity, but still had to be heated by a wood stove next to the door was going to be my shelter from this madman that chased us to this darkness. We all crammed in together. The three rooms of this circular structure were all connected by one of the rooms, the living room. It was the room that housed the only window, and it was connected to the kitchen, which housed the only door.
That is the door I had been pushed through, and into the living room where a daybed stood against the wall and underneath the large window sill. That was where Kyle slept when we actually came home. Adjacent and connected to it was the bedroom. That room had two queen sized beds nestled neatly into place so that I, my sisters and my mom would have a place to sleep with enough room. This is the room I needed to hide in. This room had hiding places, no windows, but only one door, only one way out. I came through the latter door and crawled underneath the bed closest to the entrance. My chest pressed firmly against the dark, pale blue carpet and my hands and legs shuffled me underneath. I saw my brother as he crawled underneath the other queen sized bed on the inner side of the room and I watched as my sister, and the mystery sister crawled underneath the daybed in the living room. The blanket thrown over had been draped off the side and provided a cover for the girls hiding underneath it. They were safe, they weren’t exposed. I knew they wouldn’t be found.
As for me, I wasn’t too sure.

I was still scared that I would be found. I didn’t worry about my brother, or my sisters, I became self-centered and worried only about myself. I could hear the truck getting closer and closer too quickly and I was worried that he’d find me and only me. It felt as if, even though they all were hiding with me, they weren’t really there. They were in the other world, hiding under the beds for no reason. They weren’t stuck in the world where the cold is a common thing. They moved on. They were in the world where the sunlight warmed their faces and didn’t cast a graying shadow within its rays. They weren’t in the shadows of sunlight.
I could hear the truck stopping outside on the outskirts of my grandmother’s cornfield. I could hear everything so clearly that I could almost see it in my head. Of course this is a dream and you are capable of seeing something like this, but in your dream’s reality, you are stuck with only that. Your dream’s reality. I could hear the door slamming shut and his work boots hitting the dirt softly, but loudly. My brother’s expression did not change like mine did. It didn’t become a wary, scared expression. It was still fierce and thoughtful of the oncoming experience. My sisters were huddled together underneath the daybed. Suddenly the space underneath there seemed to be larger, and easily to fit both of them comfortably. Even though there was a blanket hanging down the side of the bed like a shade, I could still see them through the sides where there was a gap. They looked scared, and they looked like they had been crying, but they were still confident nonetheless.
Suddenly a sharp knock at the window took me out of my gaze, as I saw my father’s silhouetted shadow gleaming through the meek sunlit window. He was standing right outside the window. How was he able to find us so quickly? He must have seen us because he came so close and he was so positive that we were there.
I could see the shadow cast boldly onto the carpet through the window. It was so close it could have touched me. The space underneath the bed I was under seemed too small. The shadow was too close. I wasn’t hidden.
“Kids, I know you’re in there! Let me in!” My dream-father’s voice drifted through the window as if it were open. It rang in my ears and was so clear and sharp I could have been standing right next to him while he said it.
I shuddered and my sister’s drew back. My brother’s face grew hard. Suddenly, the shadow flitted away, towards the entrance of the Hogan. Another sharp knock at the door made me jump and wince as I realized my movement could give us all away. I felt so scared of him. Isn’t this the man that raised me? Isn’t he the one that taught me to be respectful and loving? Why am I so scared of the man that gave me life? Is it really him that I’m afraid of?
The sound of the doorknob turning echoed through the silent house. I realized then that we forgot to lock it. I heard his foot step on the tile of the entranceway that connected the kitchen and the living room, that step nearly stopped my heart.
“Kiiiiiiiiiids!” he called. No answer.
My brother’s face was no longer hard, he seemed to be dreaming. Of what, I don’t know. My sisters were silent and still. They didn’t seem to be scared at all, they seemed to be off in their own world, the other world. I was the only one left here, with Him.
His footstep echoed as he walked through the house slowly. I hugged the wall, still feeling exposed and too close to the edge of the bed, even though it was a queen size. I heard the soft squish of his boots as he stepped onto the carpet. I saw the dust rise up underneath his feet and settle back down as everything became too silent for me to bear.
He called again, this time making me jump and him twitch. I still can’t see his face. I still can’t remember the image of my father that is lost. I still don’t remember what he looks like. But suddenly I know things. I know that the unit outside, even though we are all 15, 17, and 19 (around 16 for the other girl) that that unit outside is from the time when I was three or four years old and my dad used to drive up with it to our house. He used to step out and be wearing the same work boots that donned his feet now. He was wearing the uniform that made him slimmer and just-out-of-the-academy fresh. He was smiling. Was this the father that I am missing so much? Is this the father that I wanted back and gave up the man I knew for? Is this the father that left? That I will never know.
I heard the muffled and distant sound of the radio attached to his gun-belt. The dispatcher named off several groups of children from the same family that were missing. She was asking if he found any of them in this area.
He didn’t reply. He called out for us again. No one moved. My sisters seemed to be fading. My brother seeming to be in a misty-dreamy sense where he was no longer solid, but just an apparition of the man I know him to be. I saw my father get down on one knee right beside the bed that I was currently hiding under. I never saw his face. He came so close to bending over far enough to see me, that I may have been able to see the tip of his nose if I hadn’t turned away just then. The dispatcher called again on the radio, and with an angry huff he stood up roughly and retrieved the receiver from his shoulder.
He told her he didn’t see any of the listed missing kids, but to add another group to the list as well…The Lauings. We were missing to him? Could he see us? Did he want to see us?
Anger flooded through me at that point. So much of it I scooted closer to the edge of the bed, so close my shirt dangled against the safety of the shadow. I pulled my arm in front of me, cupping my right wrist with my left hand, hoisting it back towards my body. I don’t know what I was doing but I appeared to be ready to perform a snapping motion with my arm. I was going to hit him and give us all away. What would he do then? Would he leave us as missing, but do something else with us? I’ll never know. I don’t ever want to know what I was thinking.
Then, before I got the chance to smack him right against the leg, he turned and walked out of my world so quickly I barely had time to react. The door slammed, the truck ambled away, and the silence overtook the air.
“I almost hit him.” I managed to breathe out, still underneath the bed. I couldn’t see my sisters anymore. They left to the better world; they went to the better place with the sunlight, warmth, and family. Demons didn’t haunt them there. Ghosts of the man I knew to be my father didn’t stalk them and drive them to near insanity.
“I know, me too.” My brother said. This world seemed to be misty, as if fading. But he seemed to be solid, everything around us was fading. Were we fading together?
“But I came really close.” I say, near tears now.
I never got a response. I closed my eyes and lay my head against the dissipating carpet. I don’t ever want to go back to that world where the sunlight cast shadows again.

This is when I opened my eyes. Right as my eyes were closing in my dream, they were opening to my dark dorm room in reality. I think I had tears in my eyes, but I know my heart was beating so fast. What is this supposed to mean?





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