A real dream I had this morning. The protagonist in this story is male, and I think I may have been male in this dream, but I've cut out all the gender-switching since I can't remember most of it and anyway it's not relevant.


Dream No. 7

He dreamed his father had arranged for him and his brother to go on a picnic vacation to New Orleans. They spent almost an entire day packing the sandwiches. Beef sandwiches, bacon and lettuce sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The tuna sandwiches stood out the most vividly in his mind. He recalled the way they felt and smelled when he put them on top of the others in the cooler, the way droplets of moisture had condensed on the plastic bags.
They got in the station wagon and drove. It took them less time than he'd thought to get there. Soon they were heading over a network of bridges, painted blue and white. He registered dimly that there were no safety railings. Off to the left was the sprawling collection of architect that was the city. The blue ocean spread out beneath them, glistening. It was a perfect day.
He looked ahead to the suddenly vast expanse of white that had become the bridge. Funny, it had seemed so narrow before. He noticed then that cracks had appeared in its smooth surface, until an entire section of the bridge before them had just crumbled away into the water. He tapped his father on the shoulder and said the bridge was collapsing, we'd better turn back. His father said okay and swifty did a U-turn that took them onto the harbour at the beginning of the ocean.
Since the car was now useless, their father said, they would need to take a boat. They rented one out and got in. They were a little ways out onto the water when, with no apparent transition, he found himself on the phone, being told his brother was dead. Some horrible boating accident, they told him. He cried and his mother cried and they went to the funeral, where everyone dressed in black and laughed and danced. He didn't understand why they were laughing and dancing and wondered if this was the right place. He turned and saw the coffin being lowered into the ground, then he realized he was wearing a plaid flannel shirt and jeans.
In this garb he walked out into a bare patch of dark grass. Everything was dark. Night had fallen and he was standing in a park near the street under some trees. A thin young man was standing near him. The man was now wearing the plaid flannel instead. He didn't know what he was wearing, except that he was wearing something and it wasn't plaid flannel. Headlights swept the park and a large double-decker bus pulled up, doors swinging open with a hiss. The young man pointed to the ground and said you've got to find your bus fare, we have to go to the mall. He complied, kneeling in the damp grass and searching with his hands. The bus waited.
A glint of copper caught his attention and he picked it up, worrying because the fare was a dollar seventy-five and where could he find that much money here? But then he found three more pennies, and then nickels and dimes, and soon was scooping up whole piles of quarters in his hands. His partner helped him, groping on the ground for another glint of metal.
They rose and took their seats on the bus. It didn't look much like a bus, he reflected. In fact, the bus was now a subway. Lights flashed over him and the thin man as it rushed through tunnels. He had forgotten to pay the fare, or else didn't remember that he had.
In the mall, the thin man had disappeared. He was sitting on the back of a cart, on top of what felt like bundles of rags. It seemed like a horse-drawn cart, in the way in moved, but he could hear the hum of a motor beneath him and he didn't turn around to see the driver's face. His legs dangled over the edge of the cart. His two best friends were riding with him, their legs swinging out over the polished floor as well. They were facing backwards, watching things recede into the distance as they went through the building. They were watching his little brother; the other brother, the one who hadn't died. They were incurious and listless as they leaned back and made snide comments.
The little brother was following them as they rode on the cart. He kept getting distracted and wandering into candy stores that lined the mall. Then he would run to catch up with them, as they laughed and ate things out of white paper bags. They made fun of the brother, but he didn't seem to notice. He just kept running around, always behind the cart. The flourescent lights were steady above them as they passed potted plants and friendly throbs of people.
Then he was in a dimly lit room with wood furnishings and brown carpeting. It looked like the entrance to a music hall or university. His younger sister came up and talked to him about the death of the brother, the one who had died on the way to New Orleans. He was wearing the thin man's clothes again. He saw the little brother running around the room and couldn't concentrate on her words. There were two open doors in front of him. He couldn't see into the doors- it was too dark- but he knew that they both led to the same room. He followed the sister into one of them and woke up.

He lay in the dimness of his room for a while. It smelled damp and it was raining outside. Past the blinds he could see gray sunshine. He could hear nothing except the muffled patter of the water as it fell in against the roof. He screwed up his eyes, staring at the ceiling. He asked himself if his brother was still dead, if he had ever died. He tried to dredge up some of the crushing emotion he had felt when he had first got the news. Nothing came. He wondered if he should feel guilty about that, then after a while more of listening to the rain outside, decided he was awake.


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