When I Dreamed This

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In the first dream I remember — and unlike many of my stories, this one is true — Dracula chained me in my attic. I was five when I dreamed this. Our attic was a large unfinished space that ran the length of the second floor of our house, behind the real rooms where we lived our daily lives. The attic was a shadow house, full of castoff furniture and household belongings. My younger sister and I played there all the time: Hide-and-seek, House, Scare-your-sister. It was dimly lit, and not climate-controlled: in the summer you could hardly breathe there for the heat. It didn’t scare me to be there but I had a proper respect for the place, I took it seriously. I had an unarticulated feeling that things could happen there that couldn’t happen in our house proper, that it was an alternate world full of alternate possibilities.

speeding neutrinos
somebody counts
to ninety-eleven

The details of the dream are fuzzy now but I can remember being wrapped in chains in a back corner of the attic, watching helplessly as Dracula flew in through one of the tiny windows in the form of a bat, then changed into Dracula and taunted me for my helplessness. Was Frankenstein there too? I seem to remember Frankenstein. I begged them to let me go but they wouldn’t. They wanted me to stay in that attic. I wanted to go. We didn’t come to any form of agreement before the dream ended.

rainy day
the storybook’s pages
bleeding

It was a nightmare, of course — I was terrified while it was going on, and shaky when I woke. But though I was so young I took it pragmatically. I knew there was no Dracula and no Frankenstein. I knew no one would chain me in my attic. I didn’t acquire any fear of the place. In fact, I may have spent more time there than ever, now that I could see what it was really good for: It was a breeding ground for stories. Some about things that could never happen, and some about things that almost certainly did.

mousehole
a line of ants
walks out of it

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