In one dream, a dream encountered once a month or so, a password to an email service or to the office desktop itself can not be remembered. Or interruptions prevent typing it in within a fifteen-second countdown. He has been away from the office for so long—a decade—and he sees the voice mail light flashing on his phone, but he can not remember the four-digit access code.
Even without the password, he caught a glimpse of the waiting emails and there are thousands and he has a deadline to meet that somehow exists simultaneously as “just missed,” “about to be missed,” and “missed a decade ago, so why are you dreaming about a job that was three or four jobs ago”? Is this even his cubicle, anyway?
No bosses are visible, but unseen bosses are the only ones required in a nightmare.
He is at the door of one of the three or so retail jobs he worked at. (In non-chronological order, they were: a great independent bookstore; Montgomery Wards, a famous department store from the era of department stores—Sears and Wards were the big player rivals and J.C. Penney and K-Mart were the also-rans back then; and an electronics retailer that has recently announced that it is going out of business forever.) He is at the door or he has unlocked the door and let himself into the store and has now discovered that he can not remember the passcode to switch off the alarm that is about to go off now that he has broken in.
Doors and doorways. Ancient remembered histories of buildings that are no longer standing. His first job was bagging groceries in a grocery store, a job that was pursued and won upon receiving his New York State “working papers” at age 14. More than 30 years ago. He still shops there in his dreams and is certain that the layout in his dreams precisely matches the layout of the building. The building is no longer there anyway, so of course it matches it to the square inch. There was a passageway, unmanned by any security officers, between the grocery and a large department store next door. Stolen, now empty, food packages were frequently found in the department store, and stolen, empty clothes boxes were found in the grocery aisles. He stands in that passageway. Both buildings are full of empty.
The bookstore is now a dentist’s office. It looks vastly different now. New floor. Multiple examination rooms instead of an open space. In real, awake, life, two years ago, he needed the dentist and while being prepped for a procedure he recognized exactly where he was sitting. “This used to be the ‘Self-Help’ section,” he reminded the dentist, who had been a customer. The dentist was just as humorless as he remembered him.
The house he grew up in is the one he must get to. A house he lived in for six months almost 30 years ago is one he must get away from. The house he lives in now is never a location, is never visited in dreams, until it becomes a house he used to live in.
He is on a college campus, a vast one, larger than the two he was a student at, and he is on the opposite side of campus from where he has just learned he must be in a matter of not-enough-time. He rushes. The buildings that ought to be crowded with students and professors are empty and his favorite short-cut buildings are clown-car crowded. He has forgotten the papers he is rushing across campus to return to students for a class that last met twenty-plus years ago or he hopes he will remember what he was supposed to lecture about whenever he arrives.
The sheets and blankets on the bed are a tangle around his waist when he awakens, or they are on the floor, which is evidence of walking motions, even though walking in real, awake, life is a challenge for him, and he awakens each morning in exactly the same position he remembers falling asleep. Does he “walk” all night, or does he move just once, explosively?
For most of his life he has preferred falling asleep to waking up. That has changed. The vexing passwords remain unremembered, but the doors and passageways in buildings that are now dust remain vivid.
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An Abecedarian: A Blogger Cannot Dream Exceptional Fictions Given Him/Her In Jest. Kindly Leave My Normal Ordinary Psychology Quite Retired, Solitary. Told Untold Versions While eXamining Your Zipper.
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The WordPress Daily Prompt for March 4 asks, “You’re having a nightmare, and have to choose between three doors. Pick one, and tell us about what you find on the other side.”