Thursday, July 5, 2012

Words from a Dream

Last night I had a dream that was...weird, and puzzling.

I was in a small, bare room, sitting at a table with a yellow, legal-size pad and a pen.  A door, no windows, dark except for a spotlight overhead that lit up the writing surface on the table.  A photo would project on the wall in front of me; I had to look at it, then start a story, but I was only allowed to write one paragraph.  I struggled, trying to come up with something, anything, that was worthy.

Besides my difficulty with the writing, I had a hard time interpreting the photos.  Now, in the clear light of day, I can't bring back a single image, just the sense they were strange, hard to decipher, difficult to make into a story.

I didn't know why I had to do this, how many photos I was supposed to write about, or if there would be repercussions for failure.  Before I got to the end, Ozzy jumped up on the bed, waking me with a paw slap to my face--his version of an alarm clock.  I cuddled him for a few minutes, while I tried to fathom the message in such a peculiar dream.

I put as much credence in my inner world as I do the outer.  Dreams are important, ridiculous, cryptic, horrible, occasionally prophetic, and nearly always mean something.  I listen to mine, though I have to say, I'm clueless about the meaning behind this one.  Maybe it's a new way for my mind to ferret out my next plot device. 

Whatever.  By the time I get out of bed, it's clear what I have to do.

I did a random scan of pictures from my photo program.  I have about 4K pictures on this program, covering the past five years or so.  I arbitrarily snag six of them: eyes closed, no peeking, let the chips fall where they may.

So here goes.  One dream, six photos, six paragraphs...


Rachel pressed against the south wall of the kirk, the stone chilling her bones, making her shudder in the damp fog.  The light was fading, though it was still early afternoon.  She didn't know what to do, where to go.  Hallowed ground kept her safe, but the glacial cold of a Scottish winter would kill her just as quickly as those hunting her if she couldn't find shelter soon.  A crow landed on a headstone in front her, his harsh caw like a scream of warning in the silent graveyard.

Chained for centuries, he was aware, alive, but bound in stone, unable to escape, helpless to break the curse.  As the long years passed, he fed his wrath with a bitter hatred, only living now to exact a terrible vengeance upon his captors when he was once again free.

They stood frozen in fear as the storm raged toward them.  It grew with each brilliant flash of lightning, swelled as the thunder shook the earth.  The tall stalks of prairie grass were whipped into a frenzy by the wind, harbinger of violence to come.  There was nowhere to hide.

There is a profound quiet in the deep, primordial forest, humus like the thickest of man-made carpets covers the ground, muffling the sounds of trespass.  Suddenly, the crash of hooves, screech of birds, terrified cries, destroy the serenity as the forest creatures try to outrun the sharp crackle of flame.

Ethan pulled the small scrap of paper out of his pocket.  He looked up the long, narrow strada.  Since arriving in Ravello, he had walked the entire village, from the monastery to the vineyards, the cliffs to the church.  But finally, this was right, he could feel it.  His heart was pounding.  Oh, to see her.  To look into her eyes.  He took a deep, shaky breath and began to climb.

No one in living memory had seen the sun, except through the cold filter of endless Winter.  There were rumors, of course, that it was once a bright, blinding yellow.  No one believed that.  It was myth, like blue skies and green grass.  Just words with no meaning.  How do you imagine colors that no longer exist?


This was easier to do awake than it was in my dream.  Probably because I took the photos and could draw on my memories, could see each place in my mind.  Still.  The exercise gave me a few ideas, even if I seem to be in an odd mood, what with all the vengeance and violent storms and flames and graveyards.  The only bit not edged with menace was Ethan's--although we don't know what awaits him at the end of his climb, do we?

[FYI:  Curious about the photos?
Top to bottom:  Cramond Kirk Cemetery, Edinburgh; Entrance to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London; Badlands, South Dakota; Olympic National Forest, Washington State; Strada in Ravello, Italy; Winter in Southern Oregon]


  1. Those were fantastic, although I'm torn on which one I liked most; the one about the unicorn or that last piece.

    1. Hey, thanks so much!

      This was a truly interesting experiment, and though my photos were real places, I had great fun turning them into something...other.