Glimmer Train, Very Short Fiction Contest, Finalist, May 2007
I remember scurrying out of bed and rushing to the living room where Ma sat with the dream book in her lap. I squeezed into the narrow space between her hips and the couch armrest. Browsing the pages of the book for an interpretation of her dream, her finger stopped on the word “darkness.” She annunciated the big words as she read the interpretation. The corners of the pages were frayed from the daily ritual of interpreting dreams. The book was always centered on the coffee table in the living room.
I wiggled with impatience waiting for Ma to finish looking up her dream and to ask me about mine. It’s what we had in common, my mother and I. The retelling of dreams let me see her secrets as they were unraveled and revealed to me through scenes of fright and bliss. She said in the dream she was surrounded by darkness as I played on the swings at the park. The darkness began to squeeze until she couldn’t breathe. She collapsed beside me in the sandbox. Twilight was beginning to form on the hills. The faint light was bright enough that she could see the gold and silver flints of light on the clouds. She struggled to stand up, but couldn’t get her body to move. Then she awoke. But moments before she woke up, a voice from the darkness said something. She couldn’t recall the words that were said, but she recognized the voice.
She stared out the living room window for a moment before asking me, “What’d you dream?” In a smooth stream, I unleashed the images of my dream: God had spoken to me. I was in the back seat of our brown Pinto station wagon as we sped up the San Fernando Road on-ramp to the freeway. I looked over to my right towards the Eternal Valley Cemetery and from over the hill, a brilliant display of colors refracted across the sky just above the cemetery. A dark brown glow hovered above the collection of plots, and made the green grass look muddy. Then a voice whispered to me, the whisper became a growl, and the growl a boom, and then the boom became a thunderclap. It began to rain silver streaks. When I woke up, my ears were ringing.
I leaned back against the chair and watched as Ma searched the pages for an interpretation. On a previous morning, the dream book interpreted my dream of climbing stairs as a sign that I’d receive riches. That same day when digging in the sandbox, I found a bottle cap.
Ma asked what God said, but I couldn’t remember. I replayed the dream over and over in my mind: replaying the drive up the on-ramp, the brown cloud, the voice, but nothing came to mind. I had a dream that God spoke to me and I couldn’t remember what was said.
We both sat still for a moment or two. Ma closed her eyes and hung her head. I went back to wondering what God said to me in my dream.