The midafternoon sun dips to the horizon and as the train stops for us, I hand you a red leather journal and a black gel pen.
“For your thoughts,” I murmur.
The night and everything about it makes you anxious. You dread the coming darkness because it is when you lay down to face everything in your life before The Dream begins.
The Dream is your Freedom. You lie in the berth and pull back the window shade. The cities and cars and streetlights are a blur as you are lulled into a state of remembering. What would life be like without cigarettes?
You close your eyes because here it is possible to see beyond reality. You drift to sleep and your Dream begins. It becomes vivid, full of life, fragrance and beauty. You inhale and exhale forest air – it fills your lungs as you reach the top of a high mountain. An eagle flies over you, circling in his majestic power. You can see everything from here. The clouds are close enough for you to reach out and touch. As your hand moves through the cottony air the clouds part for you. A stairway manifests and you find steps under your bare feet.
You have nowhere to go but up. The stairs continue on through clouds and trees branches reach out in some places. Black birds line some of the limbs staring at you with glittering onyx eyes. You see red ribbons tied around some of the branches. You continue climbing until you suddenly are unable to breathe.
At the same moment the birds caw and scatter into the sky. The sound and movement pull the last breath from you as you collapse on the steps. You can see through them in the final moments and realize how high and far from the earth you are. Your horror reaches a paramount. You welcome numbness as everything fades in and out.
You are assaulted with a burning light coming from higher on the steps. You turn your face ever so painfully towards it. Your whole body is stiff, heavy even your eyelids feel like sandbags as you see Her coming down to you. Her words are like scathing hot water.
“You are so heavy and hardened! What are you doing here like this? You have defiled yourself and your faith. You have imbued your entire self with chemicals and toxins and filth. You cannot be here! You must return to the earth and claim your freedom. You don’t even have one feather on those burnt stubs that you were supposed to use as wings. How could you not want to fly?”
You begin to cry, soundlessly. Your throat is closing in on itself. Your tears run in black rivers down your cheeks, collecting on your chin, resting in the hollow of your neck. She looks at you now in a mixture of pity and anger. You drop your heavy head and want to gasp for air, but there is none.
She reaches out and takes you by the shoulders. She shakes you so you must raise your face to look at her in rebellion.
You scream in Her face and She smiles. She has given you another chance to breathe. A black mist streams out of your mouth and disintegrates into the night sky, becoming part of its black expanse.
“What will you do now, with this exalted breath of yours?” She looks directly into you, through you. You cannot lie here. She detects it before it is even a thought. She is your Guardian and knows everything about you. She knows exactly what you will do, the question has already been answered. The agreement has already been made.
“It is time for you to go back now. I will see you again, in the Threshold where the Night meets the Day. Take the power of this feeling with you. Call me, if you need anything.”
You watch as the Sun begins to rise up over the horizon. She dissolves in its light and you descend down back into yourself as your body begins to wake. The slight humming of the train moving beneath becomes the most comforting thing you have heard in a long time. You sit up and the cities, the cars and the sunlight are magnificent to you. You watch random scenes of a plain yet perfect world in front of you and remember your Dream. You take a deep breath and look over at me, still asleep. You take out your new journal and write one word under today’s date.
G R A T E F U L.