Last night, I dreamed I cried.
I dreamed I was hurt. I dreamed I was alone. I dreamed I needed somebody. I dreamed I was just a lost child, scared and alone in a dark room.
When I woke up, my eyes burned. But all the emotion was gone. I didn’t feel any tears. I was nothing but confused by it. I opened my eyes to a blindingly bright white room. The walls seemed somewhat freshly painted with a cheap paint, but I didn’t particularly care either way. I got out of bed, ignoring surrounding noise. I didn’t know where exactly it was coming from, but I didn’t exactly care.
This place I had grown somewhat apathetic towards, like neither of us belonged, but here we were, wherever we were. I wasn’t alone in this place, I can recall a time where I tried listening to the other occupants- all of them wearing porcelain masks, all of them reading me the same predictable lines. Like the building, I came to the same apathetic notions towards them. There they were, here I was. I never left, they never left. Even if they did, it hardly made a difference.
I began my daily routine. A cycle. The work I had grown used to. I always phased out during this, retreating to a blank part of my mind devoid of desire, devoid of emotion and notion, just counting the seconds, the minutes, the hours until my day was done. It was like being frozen in time; nothing ever seemed to change between seconds, between minutes, between hours, between days. Days always grew to weeks. Weeks always grew to months. Time and I didn’t care for each other.
At the end of this routine I noticed a tiny chip in the paint. Something just slightly different, something that might make the day less monotonous from the rest- except that my apathetic view of my setting bled over even into this. The colour was a darker one. I shrugged it off. I was ready to rest, and begin the day anew on the morrow.
On my way back, someone stopped me. I frankly don’t remember what they were saying, and I frankly wouldn’t care to; I could summarize it based off their tone, their motions, the way their mask was glued that day- if I really wanted to. I already knew what they would say. So even if rude, I ignored them, dropping some already prepared excusive line to be on my way, one of many that seemed to be thrown around this place. Sometimes the sound of my own voice saying these things makes me sick. I get over it, I always do.
I went to bed.
I had a dream again- I was in the daily routine, except someone interrupted me. Their mask was different. It was shiny. It was very shiny, but it wasn’t bright… no, it was reflective. I looked into it, and in this dream, I remember seeing myself, wearing a mask similar to everyone else. I than began to scream, begging them to stop it, pleading through the most emotional rant my imagination could conjure. Through streaming tears I asked them to make it stop, to make it go away- they kept staring at me, just letting me see this reflection, this stupid mask I was wearing. I reached to throw it off my face, but I awoke.
When I woke up, I wasn’t sad, scared, screaming or crying- I was confused, annoyed even. What a ridiculous dream. What a useless, meaningless waste of a dream. Somewhere inside, I wanted to stop dreaming. People and their masks, dreams and emotion, they interrupt the routine, they halt the daily cycle.
I felt determined not to talk that day.
What do your dreams say about you?
Perhaps an escape, perhaps a release?
Are they thoughts pushed to the back of your memory,
or memories pushed forward despite resistance?
Fear? Love? Lust?
Black and white. Colour.
Can you remember them? Do you deny them? Do you shield yourself from the emotions, the unreality, the seemingly senseless fear? The empty joys or inspirations? Or do you kill dreams, do you purge them before you can remember?
Your dreams remember you. Your dreams obey your reality, a slave to your every action, thought, emotion. Dreams are your reality, an extension of you. Would you forget yourself, ignore yourself? Your dreams can be as scared as you, as happy, as lost, and alas, as forgotten.
What do your dreams say about you?
I’ve tried not to think about it.
I don’t remember when the last one was, but I was afraid if I did then it would happen again. I don’t care for it to happen again. I’d rather just stick to what I already know, what I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. This place, uninteresting as I find it, is my home. Day after day, watching shaded windows go from light to dark, dark to light; the routine.
Still, I couldn’t help but notice, walking from hall to hall and avoiding any real contact with the other residents, there were cracks running along the walls. It was like the place was running down. I vaguely wondered if maybe it had always been like that, and I was just noticing it for the first time. Whatever. I did my cycles. I went to sleep. I woke up, feeling more tired than before, but not having another experience, which was good enough for me.
I guess in my avoidance of contact and change, I became observant. I passed someone by, and their mask was different. As opposed to the plain white porcelain, I noticed marbling patterns. I averted my eyes quickly. I did my cycles, and walked back down the dim hallways to find my white room, my bed, and lay to rest.
I fell asleep.
When I looked up, I seemed to be in an empty location. Something was just barely blurred to obscurity ahead of my vision. I felt somewhat dizzy, like this nowhere was spinning. I tried my best to focus in on the figure. Slowly, it faded the rest of the way into my vision. Just as it did, I felt a sickness heighten within me.
I was staring at myself. Me. Standing in front of me.
I watched, frozen and horrofied, as it sat still looking back at me. But then, it began a subtle movement. Its face began to curve, as it stood transfixed on me. Its mouth changed slowly, the lips rising, eyebrows following suit…
At that moment, I woke up, back to reality- but I still felt sick. The room was blindingly bright white; everything still felt like it was spinning. I did my best to balance myself and get up to begin the routine again, but everything was somehow different. Everything was somehow wrong. There was something on the tip of my mind, just out of reach, somehow wanting to escape my tongue. I couldn’t touch it. I just continued on as I would any other day, even with this thing just out of reach. I didn’t meet anyone on my way, so I just did my daily business as normal.
Everything looked dim. Brightness was gone. Was it already time? No, not quite yet. Would sleep even do me well at this point? I considered the fact I’d probably dream again. I felt my health was less important than the unsettling images. So was it just being sick… or… what was it?
As the day ended, I finally left to go back to my room. But there was someone in the halls on my way. I averted my eyes, preparing the excuse of sickness to keep walking if they tried to stop me. But before they could stop me, I stopped dead in my tracks, finding myself looking at them.
Their mask. It was… it was smiling.
It struck me with an inexplicable horror. I felt the dizziness rise again, in climax. I tried to yell, but only a feint voice left my mouth. “Take it off… take…” The best I could manage. I saw them withdraw in shock, seeing my violent reaction, even with my near whispers. They looked at me with a similar horror as I looked at the mask. They backed up from me, not understanding my reaction, not getting any one of my perceptions, not even trying to see what I saw…
I felt a great sickness well within me, and I burst into tears just as my body heaved, expelling nothing from my stomach.
I collapsed. The last thing I saw was the person beginning to pull the mask off, the shock still in their posture as my consciousness drifted away…
So deep inside,
I found a lock.
I peered inside,
I saw darkness.
Curious was I,
to break this lock;
But from inside
What did I find
was nothing to hide.
Instead beneath me
did the earth up-heave
to where darkness lies
Lost my way,
broke my bones
Scared and alone
with no voice to call back
[This mechanism deserves to be broken.]
A breakdown, they called it.
Stress, they said. I had gotten sick and the stress built up. I was given a break. I was given pills. I was told to take things slow, told to take the pills. I felt no different, not a thing had changed aside from the temporary subtle difference in how others interacted with me. I hardly cared; it seemed more a mockery than anything else. I left the bottle untouched, and continued like normal.
Because nothing had changed.
Wake up, do the given task, sleep, repeat. I wasn’t dreaming. It all seemed somehow empty. It was the same cycle I had remembered for as long as I could remember. So I let it happen, I let days fade from one to the next. In the halls I saw figures come and go, they occasionally acknowledging my presence with a generic greeting, and I occasionally returning it. I noticed nothing out of place. Nothing new.
It felt like eternity. Time had no beginning or end, but it kept passing. Day, night, day… My dreams were empty. Waking up to the same bright room, the white burning its way into my yet unadjusted eyes. It was nothing. All of it was just nothing. I woke up because it was just what I knew, because it was what I always did. I went where I did because it was where I always went. I stayed where I did because it was where I always stayed. I slept when I did because it was when I always slept. Time wasn’t a path, but a loop. The more things moved the more still it seemed.
But I couldn’t help but wonder- where were those dreams coming from?
That day I awoke to a blinding brightness- never had anything seemed so white before. Was my room getting brighter? Whatever, it didn’t matter, maybe my sleep was lacking that night, it was nothing. But only when scanning the room did I notice the source of light- a mirror hung against one of the walls. That was never there before. I don’t like mirrors, why is there one hanging on the wall? I couldn’t see the reflection from where I was; only that it was bright, painfully bright.
I got up and walked towards it, intending to take the ugly thing down and put it away. As I drew closer to it, I began to see my reflection- only a dark silhouette in light. As I got closer and closer more details faded in. The lower of my top half, what I was wearing, my neck, and finally…
Everything became dizzy. Not again, not this again… Why is this happening? I pushed past the spinning, glancing closer in the mirror, able to see the full picture it portrayed, every detail it reflected.
I stood staring at myself. I was wearing a mask, just like the dreams before. It seemed like hours passed taking in the sight of it, registering the details in full, letting that strangely familiar feeling of dread grip me.
But in the instant it all registered in my mind, a single chip flew off a newly formed fissure in the mask. It was a tiny chip, but the sound it made rang my ears with pain.
And at once I opened my eyes. Had that been a dream? Another dream? Not again, not again… I thought it was temporary sickness? Why is this happening?
Every part of me felt tired after waking. I still got up and continue the day as if nothing happened, but I felt drained. Everything was dull. Seeing others pass by with masks only made it worse. I was back to avoiding them all. It was ugly, the whole thing was ugly. I despised the dreams, and my days felt like nothing.
My contempt for life built. That day went from numb to bad. Could these people not see where they were? Did they not care how empty it was? Or perhaps they couldn’t tell at all? Maybe it’s just these dreams. Maybe I’m just still sick.
I wrapped up what I was doing and rushed to my room. The mood might just reflect how drained I was. If so, I was done dreaming. Done feeling the world spin, done feeling a helpless dread, an itching loneliness. I wanted to exist, just as the others were. Maybe those pills could help after all, maybe it was just stress piling.
I grabbed the bottle and examined it. I read what it said aloud,
It seemed fitting. I opened it and took one.
I went to bed.
Walking a fine needle
Threaded five times too many
Fearful hand afraid to drive
Any direction promises pain
Disillusionment keeping this forbidden hope enslaved away,
Locked behind door after door
Casting off the shedding light
Endowed with a broken faith in nothing at all
Where are you, o forbidden hope?
Locked in a prison cell, veiled by a mask?
Withdrawing from that nothingness are eyes lined with fear
Choosing not, the trembling hand
Sights a new wound
Spilling forth between the truths,
A shadow is cast