The waking dream continued well into my twenties, so much so that I thought I’d write a script about it to purge it from my mind. The script never happened, not one word of it, and when I looked at its content, there really is no story to be told. It is just a quick and scary little thought that rattled around in my head for many years. In those intervening years, the dream has become more detailed and again, perhaps it’s just me connecting some dots. But when it happened the first few times, I was left in the sweat and stink of fear. It continues to this day, this dream, although it has taken on some horrifying aspects of truth. I warn you, it’s probably as dull as golf so feel free to move along.
With the setting sun blazing through his window, the boy sits up from his nap in a sweat and reaches for his dog that sleeps by his side. He bends at his waist, bringing his face close to the dog’s and he sleepily nuzzles the furry ear flaps. The dog stretches his legs straight out but doesn’t open his eyes, lost in his own sleep of chasing birds on the beach. The boy plants his feet on the floor, still groggy and not knowing exactly where he is going. He walks to his window and looks up at the sky. The big puffy loaves of clouds are floating by for a moment, blocking the sun. He stands there, scratching his behind and not taking his eyes off the clouds for one second.
A few years ago, he discovered he could daydream figures from cloud shapes but that’s when he was ten. I was just a kid then but it was fun. These clouds, however, were the most beautiful clouds in the world, he thought, big marshmallowy shapes that seemed to be moving at unusual speed. If his best friend had been standing beside him right then, he would have pointed skyward and said, “Look at that locomotive!” It made him smile, just a little, at how accurate the engine looked up there, way up there, floating in the sky. Its corners were sharp and defined. It was an engine, all right. There was no mistaking it. The train ran past the sun and for a second, the sky was clear and the light bounced off his cheeks. He paused and thought he had never seen a cloud with that much detail.
Just before bedtime that night, he went to his window and looked to the sky again, this time with anticipation and want. It was a half moon but there seemed to be even more activity floating above him than from his matinee. His dog was already on the bed, waiting, but the boy stood there and craned his neck. Here comes a good one. He held his breath as it started to land over the half pie of light in the sky. The cloud started to round and shape itself, and the boy couldn’t believe it was happening again. Wait a minute. Wait. It looks like…. He stopped himself from thinking it but out loud, he uttered, “Mom?”
The cloud was a beautiful pearly white, backlit from the moon, and its shape was unmistakable. A woman’s disembodied head had found its features, its character, and now it was turning to face the boy. The look on his cloud mother’s face was harsh and admonishing. He gulped back some air and ran to his bed. Instinctively he grabbed his dog and held him close. The dog responded to the spontaneous attention with a small lick on his arm. The boy sat in a bed for hours although it was really only a few minutes. He averted his attention away from the window, away from the clouds, away from his mother.
It didn’t last long, though. He needed to see the clouds. He needed to find out this wasn’t someone’s crazy idea of a joke. He needed to see them again. He felt his feet find the floor but had no memory of putting them there. As he reached his window, his head was already aimed at the sky. Another cloud was fast approaching and this time, it was a sight that made him smile. The dog’s head was just like his own, the one snoring behind him. He almost felt like reaching upward but stopped short when the cloud dog started to open his mouth. The boy froze. The cloud dog’s mouth stretched wide, impossibly wide, in a hideous smile. The boy started to convulse as he saw the cloud dog, the horrible smiling cloud dog, gripped in a deathly grimace. The boy started to scream and turned to his bed, to his dog, and he found his dog lying there, limp, dead, and wearing that same grotesque clown grin as the cloud dog.
As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up fearing and fully anticipating finding my mother dead. It was hammered into my head from an early age that at any time, it might happen. Especially if I was bad. Who knew that so many years later, with someone who I cared for and loved far more than my mother, it would happen? I didn’t see it in the clouds but I have to admit, I had the imagery firmly placed in my mind. Which begs the question: Can you think something to happen?