Chapter 1: Chapter One

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 19

I was troubled all that week with dreams, can you understand that? I wasn't myself, that's why I acted that way. I was strange and unusual, I wasn't even someone I could recognize. I canceled work, and I took a drive in the country, in the woods. And I was troubled. I had dreams later that night, terrible dreams, nightmares. My wife thought I had lost my mind. I shook her aside, and delved deeper into the dreams.

I wanted to know what had upset me. I wanted to know what plagued me. I wanted to throw middle age in the trash. I thought about rope wire, rope wire cutting around my neck, like an animal choked in a yard. I thought about dawn patrols, and people looking for me, and the darkness of trees and thick underbrush.

I removed the rope wire from my neck, but there was blood from it on my hands, and I began to pace as if in a prison yard. I paced round and round in circles. There were trees beyond, I could sense it, and I wanted to be liberated, yet still I paced. I decided to make a run for it, and I dashed over a fence and into the dark arms of the trees, and I could sense green things and fields beyond. But I was confused and frightened by the tree lines, by the spikes against the sky, as though they would drive into me, and gut me. And I felt myself running from something, running and running, not wanting it to catch up to me. I caught my foot on something and fell into a ditch, dark and unconscious. I was in a cold pit in the dark ground, and there was no one there who could save me.

That night, at dinner, I told my wife about something called saturation loneliness. It's when you are drenched in the emptiness of life, and when you sleep you are in a narrow, empty shed, with tarpaper walls, and there are no lights. I told her that my neck hurt, and my shirt was drenched with sweat, and I was terrified. I told her I must see a doctor, but I knew a doctor wouldn't help. I had to dream again, to delve more deeply into what this meant.

So I went up to bed early, while she sat below with the chattering of the TV, and as quickly as I could I slipped back into the dark cavern of dreams.

The ground was angry with chill and damp. And large hands reached out for me, and I felt them pull rope wire around my neck, and drag me along the ground like some dog, some animal. And then I heard the cries of other animals. They were suffering, I knew it, and the rope wire was dragging me through the cold, wet yard, and above me clouds were shifting, gray and dead, across the sky, and it was about to rain, and I called out and cried out, hoping my wife would save me. But there was no answer. Even as I reached out, there was no answer. . .

Now I was in the woods in the dark, and I felt crippled and I could hardly walk, but I had freed myself from the noose. And I heard hunters, the voices of men, and they were shouting, but soon they were screaming as animals attacked them, attacked them and killed them and savaged their bellies to bits, and the men howled, and the winds and trees howled, and the animals were fat with red streaks of blood on their mouths, and the world shifted and turned and howled, and I hid behind a huge rock.

Miserable streams were gurgling, I could hear them gurgling over rocks, and I prayed on my knees, and prayed as the streams gurgled, prayed for the woman with the lantern. The woman whose hair was soft and blonde and golden, who would bring the lantern. And she would lead me out of the thickets, out of the darkness and woods. But I heard laughter, and it was her daughters laughing, I knew it, not the woman with the lantern, it was her young and beautiful daughters laughing, bursting into gales of laughter. I felt humiliated and betrayed, humiliated and betrayed, as their jaws howled with laughter. And I cursed them, and bolted upright and my right leg broke with pain, and the daughters were laughing again, and I collapsed and they would not comfort me, I fell and collapsed to the ground and looked up at the trees.

A hand shook me and I awoke, and it was my wife, in this second night of dreams. She shook me and shook me, and I awoke. But my life was a pile of rock and stone.

I went to work the next day but I was sick at lunch. Over the counter, I was sick and excused myself and came home from work. I went up to bed at four in the afternoon, sick and frightened, and I pulled up the covers and slipped back into the place where I wanted to be, the place of darkness and sickness and meaning, the place of dreams. 

And I heard the hunters' voices again in the distance, but they were meek and the animals were perched above them, demanding humility, and the voices pleaded to no avail, and the animals slaughtered them.

They rained down with sharp claws and tore and slaughtered the men. And it was then, as I feared they would attack me, as I feared and ran and hid myself beside the stream, that the woman appeared. The woman with the lantern. And she was soft and beautiful, soft and sweet and beautiful, and she reminded me of someone, but I couldn't remember who, I tried and I couldn't remember. She reminded me so of someone. And she held the lantern out and I followed her, followed and followed.

And she led me to a cabin, and she smiled and opened the door, and I went inside. She closed the door behind her and smiled and smiled, and it was then I remembered who she reminded me of. She was Amanda, my own Amanda. My girl, my sweet little girl. And she smiled and sat by the hearth, and sang to me. Smiled and smiled and sang to me, and I put my head in her lap, and gradually I fell asleep as the fire dimmed, fell deeper and deeper into sleep, hoping not to awake, to always keep with me the thought of that smile.

My little girl, my darling Amanda, who was gone and lost to me, lost to me forever. When I awoke in the morning she was gone. I tried to start the fire but it would not light. And the windows were cold and empty, and outside I knew the hunters were dead and the animals were still hungry and feeding, and the rocks were cold and the stream would no longer gurgle. I knew the rope wire was waiting, and I cried, I wept, and I knew I must look for Amanda, but I knew the rope wire was waiting for me. It caught hold of me the instant I set foot out the door, and choked me so I couldn't breathe.

That was when I knew I had to see a doctor. Because if I didn't save myself from this grief, from this loss, the rope wire would always be trapped around my neck. Now I draped the rope wire over a beam, and prayed to God, and sent my wife out for groceries. I missed my lost daughter, Amanda, and could no more endure the grief, could not endure the grief of her passing. I tied the rope around my neck and tightened and tightened it, until I could breathe no more, and swung myself from the rafters, in a dream of death.

It was only Tuesday, and the hour-clocks were dead. I awoke from a forever sleep in a hospital bed, in a very strange place.

Submitted: April 24, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Ron Micci. All rights reserved.


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