When Smudging Doesn’t Work


Having been visited by several unfriendly dreams in the past week or so, I smudged the entire house a few days ago, but it seems to no avail. Last night I had one of the most frightening nightmares I’ve had in a while. (Yes, even worse than Grandpa Munster.) In this one, I was behind a glass window, watching Andy sit at a table. It looks like an interrogation room, and I try pounding on the glass to have him see me. My hands feel like they’re in slow-motion – so slow that they don’t hit the glass with any thud or force of contact, and so my exertions go unnoticed. I try screaming, but whenever I scream in dreams no sound comes out (until the very end).

I watch him typing and smiling, and I wonder if he’s sending a message to me. I calm down and rest my hand on the glass. If I move very, very slowly it makes contact and rests there. Two men enter from a door behind Andy, but he doesn’t notice, or at least he doesn’t turn around. He continues typing and smiling. One of the men, a college-aged guy with dark, longer, somewhat shaggy hair stands behind Andy and makes motions ridiculing him. It reminds me of the time when someone was saying bad things about Andy behind his back when he didn’t think anyone was listening, and I pound the glass to get Andy’s attention. He does not look up. The other man laughs as the younger guy starts making fun of Andy’s appearance. Then the two start kissing behind his back. Andy is seemingly oblivious, still occasionally typing something, with a wan smile and a distracted look. The young guy points at Andy and laughs – a cruel, wicked, satanic laugh that makes me want to cry. He then starts kissing the older man again.

I look at Andy, sensing danger, but he doesn’t seem fazed. In fact, he doesn’t seem to notice them behind him. I watch him closely, and see him grow old before my eyes. The men behind him laugh more, pointing at him and ridiculing him, and I try to scream but still no sound will come out. I don’t know if they mean him harm, or if it’s harmless fun, but I feel attacked on his behalf, and he doesn’t seem to know. Instead, he grows older. His hair is white, his skin is wrinkled, his eyes slowly close, and his head slumps down. I panic, trying to distract the men behind him, whose laughter and lascivious behavior seem to be draining his life away. The harder I try to pound on the glass, the less sound it makes, and my voice won’t rise above a whisper, no matter how strenuously I try to force a shout or a scream. The laughter of the faceless men is terrifying, and I sink to the ground to try to find a way into the room.

In the wondrous way nightmares and dreams work, I suddenly feel like I wake up, only I’m in a car, riding along some highway in what feels like Maine. I look over and Andy is driving, and he looks like he looks today, maybe a little younger. The relief I feel is overwhelming, and I wipe my tears away. He looks at me, surprised at my crying state, and asks what’s wrong.

‘Nothing’,’ I say. ‘I had a nightmare…’

He looks a little concerned, then continues driving. Green trees rush by the window, and it strikes me as an anomaly – the great majority of my dreams and nightmares are in black-and-white. This small flash of color – the color of life, of green things that fly – is the last thing I remember before waking up for real.

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