In the darkness you were dreaming. Dreaming and that is all. You did not see what you thought you saw. You did not experience what you thought you thought was so real. There was not a shape, a shape in the darkness. There was nothing at all.
You wake to the sound of drums; a deep, rhythmic pounding. You are surprised to find it is your heart, beating fast and hurried; the sound of heavy rain on dirt ground. Thud, thud, thud, thud. It is a wet sound. You can feel it in your body, in your veins. It pulses in your neck, under your arms and in your thighs. It is in your ears or perhaps behind them. The blood grinds and swirls to your eyes, around the back of your head to your throat and back to your ears. It feels hot and moist. It is not an unpleasant feeling. But you are alone.
Alone in the darkness – and it is dark, a deep, penetrating dark that that surrounds you and holds you and touches your skin – and you stare at the ceiling. Although you can’t see it you know it is there. The ceiling, the roof over your head, it must be there the same way the floor is there under your feet. If you were to just swing your legs over the side of the bed they would land firmly on berber weave carpet. And you would be able to stand with no fear of sinking; sinking into a black sea of molasses. You will not be submerged in dense goo that will seep into your mouth and eyes and ears and nostrils. You will not choke and drown. You know this.
Still, you stay motionless in the bed, in the darkness. Control your breath, you think, deep breaths – in and out and in and out. Slow the heartbeat, calm the drums. Wait for morning, wait for sunrise. In the daytime you will not be afraid because in the daytime the magic goes away.
Somehow this is unacceptable. You must know. What was the dream? The dream you were dreaming in the darkness. You can only touch it on the edges; sharp and jagged details. There is a part of you that says stop. Do not remember, do not go deeper. If you do you will not survive. You will not be the same. And you heart begins to beat rapid again. Like a drum. And you blood flows hot and scraping through your veins. If you want to remember, says the voice in your head, then do so in the daylight, in the morning without fear or consequence. But in daylight it will be gone. There is no magic without fear, without consequence.
In time your eyes become accustomed to the darkness. You see shapes and shades. They appear menacing and fierce at first yet still familiar, recognizable. You walk towards one with arms outstretched. Fingertips twitching you wait for a sting or a bite or a burn. This shape is not deadly, but it will hurt. When you touch this shape there will be pain. You are ready for it.
Tentatively your fingers scrape the surface of the shade. They wiggle within the inconsequential either and you are surprised when it becomes solid. It takes shape in your hands and grows. In the darkness it is many things.
At first it is an immense God-like giant. It wears massive boots and a scornful look upon its face. You know instinctively it can be a compassionate thing, a loving thing; but that it will never be those things to you.
And then it is small; a mouse, a rodent, a pest, just a tiny, tiny thing. You could crush it if you wanted to. Erase it from existence. But you do not and you don’t know why.
Then it flashes and changes and morphs so quickly you hardly have time to comprehend it all.
It is a fender of a Buick La Saber dented and ruined; you can see yourself in the chrome as you decide to run away. It is a box of crayons begged and pleaded for, multi-colored wax that melts when left out in the sun. It is a dog running and barking and licking your face and sneaking out the back door to hit by a car while crossing the street. It is a man in a hospital bed with tubes and wires in his arms who jokes and laughs but just says, “Why? Why? Why?” when the end comes. And it is a woman, a girl really, who does not understand why her daddy left and asks you to stay forever and you say yes when you really mean no. And it is a man, a boy really, who tries so hard to be a grown up and a provider and a hero and to be all the things he was told he should be but realizes he never be and so just finds himself in the dark crying. Alone in the darkness.
You wake to the sound of drums. You were dreaming again, only a dream. And now it is morning and everything is different in the rising sun. Everything is different in the light of day, easy to forget the shapes in the dark.