The dream is always the same, every night, falling, falling without end, until nausea or reflex pulls me from my sleep with a sudden grasp of my bedsheets. The dream was the same, that is, until tonight.
Falling dreams aren’t unusual. I fall from cliffs. I fall from trees, or into them. A lighthouse, a bridge, a tall office building… Sometimes I’ve slipped. Sometimes I was pushed. Sometimes I have the marvelous ability to fly and I’ve launched myself in blissful confidence, and others, I’m quite attracted to gravity and my plunge might be one of suicidal depression. This dream is none of those things. I simply fall, and fall, and fall.
It was inevitable, I suppose, that I should grow accustomed to it: the weightless plunge, the suspension in freefall. I could never have prepared myself for what happened when I did. In an odd sense, it was as if I had landed. I had grown so used to the falling that I stopped – well, sort of stopped – to observe myself as I fell.
In that instant, everything froze. I froze. Time froze. Light froze, removing all color from my dream. I stood for the longest time watching myself fall nowhere. It was ridiculous to me and yet frozen, I could not laugh. I wasn’t falling at all. In fact, I was quite suspended, and if I had possessed the wherewithal to think it through, suspended somewhere by my mattress, but of course I possessed no such wherewithal. No, what I saw, instead, seemed as impossible as the never-ending plummet I had supposed I would see as I stepped aside to observe it, and it mesmerized me.
My body stood at odds with physics, at an angle that made no gravitational sense. I realized instantly that it was only a matter of perception. My shadow gave that away, standing as true in the frozen light as it ever had. The revelation that I had never once needed to fall was a relief I can barely explain, like a child realizing the monster in her closet was really just a silly coat, or panicking that you’ve overslept for work and then noticing that it’s your day off. I wanted to embrace the revelation, but I was so fascinated by the shift in perspective, that I couldn’t. So I stood as my body stood: frozen.
There was a certain smug satisfaction that filled me as I stood. I knew I would never have to fall this way again. I had discovered the absurdity of the feeling. I owned it. I was its master. And so for the longest time, as I said, I did stand and watch.
Slowly, it began to dawn on me, why this time, it was so different, until the realization – the shift in perspective – made me swoon. There were no sheets to grasp. There was no reason to grasp them. My body needed me to wake up and it could not. Obviously. I was not in it. I stood frozen watching its endless fall…
I wanted to care.
I thought I should care.
© 2016 Anne Schilde