“My feet were sticking to the ground again,” Basil sighed as he poured himself some cereal. His young wife, Cecily, set down her red mug on the kitchen table.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I know how that scares you.”
“I just wish I understood what it meant.”
“Were there any new symbols in the dream?”
Basil paused to reflect. The dream usually consisted of him as a very young boy chasing a pretty woman with a purse he took to be his mother. Behind him was always the man carrying a grocery bag, workers cap shading his eyes and face from Basil’s view. The paving stones beneath his feet upheld him at first, but as he drew closer to his ‘mother’ his progress slowed because…his feet were sticking to the ground. “No, nothing new. I see her, I run towards her, the man is behind me with his stupid grocery bag and hat, and my feet suddenly feel like they weigh a million pounds.”
“You could just be experiencing that weird REM paralysis they’re always on about in the science journals.”
“I feel like it means something, though. Do you think I should get the dream analyzed?”
“You’ve had it three or four times since you came back from Sydney.”
“I don’t know, Basil, maybe you should have your head analyzed. Or get some blood work done. Or maybe just stop eating ice cream before bed.”
Basil nodded, a wan smile spreading across his face. Cecily was trying to help, in her way, by making him laugh. It wasn’t always that easy for him to forget, though. He dug his spoon into his cereal and ate hungrily.
Later that morning as he stuffed his earplugs in and cranked the mower to its pervasive roar, his mind turned again to the dream tableau in his mind. As the grass fell in his wake, he decided to break the dream into individual, specific parts.
One –I am a young boy.
Boys are young, immature, childish, innocent. We have an ‘inner child’ that wants attention. Is this his medium for collecting attention? The dreamscape? I was a boy in the past. Immature in the past, childish in the past, innocent in the past? Why would I be a boy now? Maybe I am being immature about something.
Two –I am running towards a mother-figure.
She’s not my real mother, so it means something different. She’s just a woman who I associate with motherly nature—someone perhaps caring, nurturing, loving. She carries a purse, like a mother does, but what’s in the purse?
Three—I am running away from a mysterious male figure in a cap and who carries a bag.
I don’t know this man, I am running, I am trying to avoid him. Why—I don’t feel any fear. What’s in his bag? Why the hat? Hats cover and shield from the sun, then there’s the “many hats” idea, but he only wears the one hat in my dream. Could he be hiding something?
Four –The problem with running.
I can’t go as fast as I want, I can’t reach the loving-caring-nurturing person and I can’t fully escape the man. My feet are heavy, sticky, and slow. I’m frustrated. I feel some fear. I doubt I can do what I want to do. What did Cecily say about last time…that it was perhaps somehow related to my REM paralysis.
He wiped his forehead, the beaded sweat dampening his shirt sleeve. Five – The Bags.
I think the solution is in the purse and the sack. Once I know what’s in there, I’ll know what I’m trying to avoid and trying to attain.
The backyard finished, he moved on to the front yard without letting the mower stop.
What’s in a purse? Identification, lipstick, God knows what else. I don’t know what’s in a purse. My dad always told me it was rude to look through a purse, we used to joke it was a secret abyss like a sinister Mary Poppins. A bag of identity and secrets, guarded, held close to the woman. Sometimes she loses it or sets it down…so she’s got to be responsible for it… maybe it also means responsibility in my dreamscape.
So I’m fleeing some hidden aspect of myself that has baggage, clearly (Man, check. Sack, check. Hat, check. Running boy, check.) towards something ultimately good (Woman, check. Purse, check.).
What the hell does it mean?
The smaller front yard finished, Basil wheeled the mower back towards the garage and went to grab the edger and leaf blower.
Something I should be, towards something I want to be?
Something I’m afraid of, towards something I love?
He was becoming frustrated as the answer eluded him and decided to focus on the edging work at hand. There would be more time to think over this stupid dream after he was finished.
Behind the double-paned glass, Cecily watched her husband work. His dreams weren’t news to her, as he’d often told her the silly things that passed through his dream brain as he slept. She, however, paid much more attention to the symbolism often present in dreams. Portent of things to come or not, dreams had to mean something—why else would the human brain bother to sort through those ideas? She flipped open her laptop and searched the Internet for a dream dictionary. The symbols in the dream weren’t too alarming, she thought, but how did they pertain to Basil?
Some 60 miles away, a gentleman in a grey morning suit rested his finger tips together, his eyebrows knit together in concentration, eyes focused on the desk in front of him. “You’re certain it’s missing, and hasn’t been taken in for cleaning?” The crisp English accent slit the quiet, cold air.
“Sir, I know a replica when I see it. The painting wasn’t scheduled for cleaning and preservation work until next year. I am quite certain it has been taken.”
“Very well, Hans, call in the Kildares.”