"What did you dream of?" They always ask, and I always pause, wonder why it is so important; after all, dreams are nothing more than fabricated memories.
They ask me anyway, and they wait while I pause, for they know that I will tell them.
"Crimson and amber." I tell them. "From the sky, from the trees. A wall exists that has always existed and will soon be destroyed. The bridge will follow, the iron bridge. Bricks crumble into sand. They, too, shift from crimson to amber. Then the water and the air itself, each is crimson and amber in its own way, crumbling into sand."
"Hmm." They reply, as if disinterested. But, I can hear them as they glide down the hallway. I have better hearing than they give me credit for, and it suits me to be underestimated. I can always hear them discussing every detail, as if the dream were a true event. And I always laugh to myself at that idea.
But, they return the next day and persist "What did you dream of?" Again they wait as I pause, still wondering why they bother with an air-headed child like me.
"Emerald and amber." I say. "From the sea, from the rain. There used to be a wall here. Now it is a lake of sand. The lightning is fierce here, and it strikes the sand in a balanced rhythm. Where sand and lightning kiss, there stands a trellis of glass, almost like stiff and icy lace. Each intertwines with the others until the new wall has grown from the old: emerald light shines through it."
And so it goes, each and every day.
"Indigo. From inside of me. I cannot see it or feel it. Someone whispers that it is there. I believe them. For, what sort of awful dream spirit would lie to curious child? They ask me to rebuild the iron bridge, and I follow them to its former dwelling. The iron is warped into the rocks below. Emerald snow, however, is beginning to fall. It melts as it hits the empty air around where the bridge once stood, as if the bridge lives on. It is cold and the liquid freezes solid, suspended in midair, looking for all the world like latticework. And soon a bridge stands, ice in place of iron, and indigo in color."
"What does it mean", they mutter as the retreat back to their offices. "Hmm."
I can tell you exactly what it means.
It means nothing. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but Crimson and Emerald and Amber and Indigo are colors. They mean nothing. They communicate nothing. They are a property of an object. They help to identify an object.
The objects mean nothing. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but bridges and walls and rain are solid objects. We see them clearly and can identify them immediately. They hold very little significance.
And yet it continues, one day to the next. I never ask, only answer.
"What did you see" They asked one day.
"Nothing" I replied.
"Surely", they insist, "You must have seen something."
"To dream and to see are very different, sir. You see with your eyes, and therefore, the scene before you is like a half-devloped photograph. You catch the shadow of the thing, but not its essence. That is seeing. To dream is to see with everything else. The scene is clear and concise and detailed, and yet the human mind cannot grasp nor comprehend it. Dreaming is like looking at a fully developed picture in a dim and hazy setting."
Although this wasn't a dream at all, they turned as they usually do. "Hmm. What could it possibly mean?"
This is when I realized that the dreams of an air-headed child hardly mattered, but the existence of an air-headed child did indeed.
This is when, instead of asking of my dreams, they asked of my thoughts, as if they were somehow more important than my dreams.
"What are you thinking?" They ask.
"Of course, I am thinking about your words and what they mean to me. They are the essence of your thoughts and each word is a sculpture of ice. It was once clear and detailed as you conceived it in your mind, but now, as you send it out with your voice, it manages to melt ever so slightly. I can still identify the idea, but not in the concise and beautiful manner in which it was conceived."
"Hmm. What does it mean." As if it were something to be dissected and catalogued. My impatience seems to grow with each pensive hum.
And they return, curious as ever, as if they are small children waiting for a story... and I am the small child telling it.
"What are you thinking."
"Of stories. Our own life is not fulfilling without knowledge of others. Perhaps we were created for this purpose. To tell each other stories. We can live a thousand lives if we hear a thousand stories. Yes, that must be our purpose. To tell stories."
They look down at me, brows raised. "Surely stories cannot matter more than our own lives."
"Our own lives are like the trunks of trees. But, what then are trees without branches, roots, leaves. What then are we without stories."
"Hmm" they say again. And the pensive hum still strains my nerves as they walk down their hallway.
I almost want them to turn around and say, with all sincerity, "We do not understand. Explain this to us." But, again, I am only a child. I lack the years to make me wise. Then again, I do not lack the stories.
"What are you thinking of?" they return to ask the next day.
"I'm pondering about why you feel a desire to know my thoughts. You make as if stories are not as important as your lives, but, each day, without exception, you shuffle down your hallway, asking me to tell you a story."
"Are we bothering you?" But they don't look concerned.
"No. No. But, as a child, it is my nature to be curious, for curiosity is followed by a thought. A thought is followed by a word. And a word is followed by a story. And it is a story from a source other than myself that curiosity delivers. Therefore, each curious thought is also another life to be lived. If such is the case, children must have lived more than adults, for they have many more curious thoughts."
"Hmm" they say as they turn. Still my patience holds, but I know that they do not understand. And, until they turn back and acknowledge such, they will continue to lack understanding.