Inside My Eyelids (9)

It’s the dreams that happen after I have to wake up in the middle of the night, for whatever reason, and then go back to sleep, that are the the most colorful. And the most difficult for me to cope with.

Last night, I woke at three-thirty in the morning. I’m old. I wake up every morning to go pee. Last night was no exception. After my nightly trip, I pulled the covers back up, and waited for the heat to build back up, which always sends me back to sleep.

Back to the land of dreams.

I remember walking. The same streets I’d always walked, all through my neighborhood. A long walk this time, one that took over two hours. As I walked, I wondered, “Where are all the houses? Where are all the cars? The trees. The buildings. The signs. Everything was gone. Everything. There was nothing to either side of me, nothing ahead of me, nothing behind me. There were no clouds, not birds, no planes, not bugs, the sky was empty.

It had rained earlier, though, I could tell because of the puddles on the street, and the sidewalk. Puddles that worked like mirrors, and reflected the images of everything around them. Those puddles were more confusing than everything being missing, because they were filled with images of everything that had been there. Everything I always saw when I walked was still in those puddles.

But none of it was left anywhere.

I walked from puddle to puddle, examining each one, trying to figure out what I was seeing in each puddle. The one in front of where my home had been still had reflections of my crepe myrtle trees in it. I watched the image of the bottom of my car in the puddle as my invisible car drove across it. The water didn’t move, there were no splashes. It was like my care wasn’t there. Like I was watching a movie screen.

There was a puddle a few blocks from home, where I could still see the buildings that used to be beside the road, even though there was no sign anything had ever been beside the road. In that one, I watched a passenger jet fly through the puddle, while no jet was anywhere to be seen.

Except in the puddle.

Most interesting was how, as I walked, I saw myself in the reflections of the puddles. As if the puddles were saying to me, “We only reflect what’s actually there.” And yet, there was nothing there to reflect.

I decided to try finding one of the street signs I saw in a puddle. A stop sign, at the corner of a road. It was crystal clear in the puddle. I kept my eyes on the puddle, as I moved my reflection closer to the signs reflection. Until I could reach out, and place my reflections hand on the sign. Except, there was no sign. There was nothing.

I wound up back at the puddle before where my house had been. I walked back and forth, left and right, even in circles. Nothing. My house wasn’t there. There was no sign it had ever existed.

There was a song, long ago, where the singer sang,

“Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about”*

As I woke from my dream, I heard that song playing over and over again in my head, with some strange voice asking me, “What is real, and what is a dream, and how do you know?”

599 words

* The song is Strawberry Fields, by the Beatles.

Songwriters: J. Lennon / P. Mccartney
“Strawberry Fields Forever” lyrics © Sony/atv Tunes Llc, Sony, Sony Atv Tunes Llc, Sony Atv Music Publishing France, Sony/atv Tunes Llc Dba Atv Obo Atv (northern Songs Catalog), Wixen Music Publishing Inc Obo Harrisongs Ltd

I wrote this for week 144 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.



Inside My Eyelids (8)

I walked along the sidewalk, beside all the different houses of my neighborhood. Was I dreaming? I don’t know. I could feel the breeze, hear the cars on the main road outside my neighborhood, see the clouds in the sky move over time, watch birds fly from place to place.

I wondered if it really mattered if it was a dream or if it was real. I wondered if there was a difference between dreams, and reality.

As if the universe sensed my thoughts, it sent me on a walk through a forest, beside a small river, in the mountains somewhere. That told me I was dreaming, or at least convinced me I was.

Lacking anything else to do, I wandered along the trail I was on, through the trees, beside the river, realizing I couldn’t hear anything. No leaves rustling in the breeze. My feet on the ground as I walked. My breathing. No birds, no squirrels, nothing. No sound at all.

Until I came across a door frame the trail passed through. I looked around. It was a door frame, made of short sections of tree branches, cut to similar lengths, and put together to make a frame. There were vines and branches growing along its exterior, some reaching out a couple of feet from the frame, as if to tangle with the trees, to form a wall, and anchor the frame in place.

A short little man, maybe three feet tall popped out of the trees, next to the frame, “You asked about reality and dreams, I do believe.”

For some reason I nodded yes at him, “Am I dreaming? Or is this real?”

“What are dreams, and what is real? And are the two the same for everyone, or are the different for each person?” The little man smiled. “Do you see a door?”

“No. Only a frame.”

“Can you walk around it? Or through it?”


“Is the trail on the other side the same? Is the air the same? Are the same trees on both sides of the door?”

“Obviously. It’s a frame, standing in empty space, nothing more. No walls. No buildings. A doorway that leads nowhere.”

The little man laughed. “Like all doorways, isn’t it?” He shook his head. “And if I put a door in the frame?” He waved his hand, and a door appeared. “Does that make what’s on this side different from what’s on the other side?”

“No. I can still go around.”

“What if I add a wall?” A walk appeared on either side of the door, that stretched as far as I could see in both directions. “And make it too tall to climb.” The wall reached to the sky. I could not see it’s top.

“It’s a barrier. It separates this place into two places.”

The little man laughed. “And yet, the path continues as before, doesn’t it. And the air remains the same. And the trees are still the trees.” The door opened, “Go on through. Pass from this world to the next, if you wish.”

I walked through the opened doorway.

The little man followed me. “I don’t see anything different. Do you?”


We both looked back at the doorway, and the wall. “And yet, you have said this is a different place. A separate place.”

The little man shook his head. He frowned at me. “So limited. So sad.” And he was gone. So was the wall, and the door. Only the frame remained.

It took time, but as I walked along the trail, by the small river, I wondered what a symbol was, and if a doorway was a symbol. Like a line on the sand. Or perhaps, like the houses of my neighborhood, where I was walking once again.

Now, I find myself asking why attach so many rules to symbols, to things that aren’t real, and really only separate us from each other. Like the lines on a map. Or the fences between yards. Or perhaps our colors, religions, and politics.

Now, I wonder, do our symbols bring order? Or do they bring chaos? Do they bring peace? Or do they bring war? And do we even know they are only symbols.

Like that doorway, on that trail. A symbol. And nothing more.

714 Words

I wrote this for week 143 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

Inside My Eyelids (5)

She was, I think, the last friend I had in that church. She was, I know, the last reason I had to be there.

It was in that place where everything went as wrong, and as badly, as it possibly could have gone. It was in that place where I learned to pray to God in Heaven, as I looked to the stars in the night sky, “Father, let me die. Let me die, please. And set me free from this hell.”

I remember so many stories. The time the church’s youth director spoke with me, as we watched the water tumble over rocks, and swirl around tree roots, and branches, by a mountain stream, on a Saturday night in August, with the stars hidden from view by the trees. The only sounds being our words, and the words spoken by the stream.

“There’s something wrong with you, isn’t there.” It was a statement, not a question. I knew that when she spoke the words. Words that echoed in my soul. “There’s something wrong with you, isn’t there.”

How do you answer when someone says those words to you? Defiance? Anger? Rage? How about when they say those words, and you know, beyond doubt, that you are not like everyone else. That somehow, some way, that you can’t understand, you’re different.

I was different. And I knew it. As I knew that being different was the absolute definition of there being something wrong. I was different. That meant there was something wrong with me.

“Yes. But I don’t know what. And I don’t know how to fix it.”

There are so many stories. The time the church pastor spoke with me, “You need to stay where you are in the sanctuary. Not come forward. You’re already right with God. If something in the service speaks to you, be thankful. But stay where you are.”

That was the day the lights in the building went out. The glow of hope. The sense that maybe, perhaps, with luck, and God’s guidance, and will, I could figure out what was wrong with me. With those words, from the leader of the church, that was gone.

I watched, on Sundays, as people walked into the sanctuary, smiling, hopeful. It was like the inside of the building lit up, that light shining through the windows, leaking to the outside world. Except, I was not welcome to be part of that light.

That light avoided me.

So many stories, and yet, they’re all the same. The time the youth went on one last retreat, one last trip, for the memories, I suppose. When they had me, a 19 year old college student, lead the car train to the resort. It was the first time, the only time, we got there on time. With no incidents. With no problems.

How, on that trip, the same youth directory who told me there was something wrong with me had trouble with her footing, climbing down a steep hillside coming back from the mountain swimming hold we all went to. And no one saw that, but me. And no one was beside her, to help her, to catch her if she slipped, but me. And no one noticed at all when we got to the bottom of that hill, and she smiled at me, “Still the same good old guy, aren’t you.”

The same good old guy who dreamed of driving his car, at full speed, through the front door of the church one day, in a desperate effort to escape the bleeding of my soul, only to stand in the rubble, laughing, as God found yet another way to keep me alive, and prolong my agony.

I stopped going to that church. Except for Sunday morning classes, before the service. She was there. I couldn’t let her be wounded as I had. I told God, I didn’t ask, I told him. “I’ll be here. In this place. As long as she is. To do what I can to keep her safe.”

And I left the day she did.

That was the day the light shining from the church, a light I could never be a part of, a light not meant for me, turned orange, and red. The color of flickering flames.

I never returned to that place.

718 Words

I wrote this for week 141 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

Inside My Eyelids (2)

I told myself to stop remembering the past. “I’ve got to work in the morning. Time to shut down my brain, and sleep.” With that, I hugged my pillows, rolled onto my side, shut my eyes, and deliberately tried to think of anything other than work, life, the universe, the damn movies I dreamed up each night.

Instead, I ordered up a walk on the beach, at sunset, on a summer night, with a soft breeze, and ocean sounds. Even a few seagulls flying around, and talking. Something that made me smile. Something I wanted to do more often. Something I kept private, never shared. Because, no weaknesses allowed.

I feel asleep on that beach, watching the waves.

Jesus, was that ever a mistake.

Have you ever been in the desert? Seriously. The middle of the desert. No water. No trees. No grass. No people. No roads. Nothing. Only sand. An ocean of sand, with motionless sand dunes for waves.

That’s where I was. In the desert. Hell, I couldn’t tell you which desert. Does it matter which desert? The sun rose in the East, and the ovens of hell came on. After an hour of searching for shade, any kind of shade, I tried hiding in the shadows of the dunes, where the sunlight didn’t reach.

You know how you normally die of thirst in the desert? Yeah. That would have been too easy. That would have let me escape. Let me have peace. Let me sleep. So, I had to stay alive. Hour after endless hour. Wondering if I could find a swallow of water. Just one swallow, to help the fire in my throat.

I didn’t get sun burn either. Like I was made of something other than flesh and bone. My skin got hot to the touch, coated in sweat, which the sand stuck to. The sand got in my pants pockets. Under my t-shirt. Inside my pants. It got everywhere. And it stuck to me. I couldn’t get it off. Every time I tried, more sand piled on.

To the East, I heard thunder. I wandered that direction, walking for hours. Maybe days. Who knows how long. I passed out a couple of times, certain I was finally going to die, and be free, only to wake up, spitting sand from my parched mouth and throat, watching it spray out of my nose.

The lightning was always to the East. Always as far away as it had always been. It never got closer. I set my direction by the sun, so I knew I wasn’t walking in circles. No matter how far I walked, there were never any signs it had ever rained. The ground remained parched, dry, dusty sand. That went forever. In every direction.

But, I kept walking to the East. Toward the sounds of thunder. Hoping, praying, desperately, I’d find rain, and at least a moment’s respite from the endless heat, and waves of sand, frozen in time, with sprays of sand, like the tops of waves, at their crests.

I was still walking, praying I could die, or find water, when I woke up, as I did almost every night, at 3 in the morning. Too tired, and exhausted to be useful in any way. Too desperate to escape the images on the inside of my eyelids to want to try to sleep for another few hours before I had to go to work.

572 Words

It’s week 139 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Flash Fiction Challenge. Please feel free to read all the other stories for this weeks prompt.

It seems I find myself in the middle of something unexpected. We’ll see if it lasts, or if the movies on the back of my eyelids silence me once more. Time will tell.