Life is the skirmish our dreams are meant to resolve. Lucid dreamers like Bernard don’t leave it to chance; they’ve trained themselves to take control in sleep. They lie down with a plan they repeat like a mantra. The first time he looks at his watch, Bernard sees numbers; the second time, numbers again. The third time, his watch is a coin on a strap and Bernard knows he’s dreaming and sets to work. He sees he’s in the family kitchen with its wallpaper of fat blue cows and milking pails and his mother’s voice calling from the upstairs bedroom. He tucks in his shirt and opens the door to the yard but finds himself in a slaughterhouse instead. He closes the door and repeats his plan and opens the door again. This time it’s the yard at night beneath a sickle moon. He orders his dream to find his dad and glides out to the shrubbery beds as if across a slippery floor and stops behind Dad scrabbling in the dirt. He could be digging something up or burying something beneath the wet dog plant with its dangling purple blossoms, beneath the dogwood tree with its fragrant blossoms, beneath the mulch of rotting skin deep in the bed. Bernard smells the turned earth. He tastes it and suppresses the urge to vomit. The figure turns and its face is the face of a coin—, the face of his father—, the figure is Bernard burying his father in the dog’s grave beneath the holly—, beneath the dogwood. He wakes himself up and comes to in bed, panting, fingers sore, conscious of his wife’s movements. “You’ve been digging again,” she says. On her pajamas are fat blue cows. Bernard repeats his plan and returns to the kitchen.

Copyright © June 13, 2007 David Hodges

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