Friday, February 23, 2007

Dream a little dream of me

I had a dream about a million years ago that stays in mind as fresh as if it happened last night.

Some of you I've told about it before, some I haven't; for whatever reason it's demanding to be written today.

I woke up into the dream looking down at dry, dusty ground. I had thick, long, straight, dark brown hair parted down the middle and was wearing a sleeveless, baby blue cotton shirt that buttoned down the front. My capri pants were made out of a dark blue, denim-like material. The clothing looked like something worn in the early 1960's. My skin was white with a slight olive tint.

When I looked up, everything seemed bathed in a dingy yellow hue. It was early afternoon and the sun pricked my skin with heat. To my right there was a lone tree standing on the edge of a parched stretch of tall grass that led to a thin forest of similar looking dried-out trees. On my left was the house I shared with two sisters and their children. It sat at the edge of a city filled with winding narrow alleyways and tall red brick buildings.

I knew the city was on the coast of Africa and was at war with the French. All of the men were gone. The only males left were those too old or too young to fight. This left the women in the precarious position of having to provide food for themselves and their families.

Most of the women resorted to prostitution, servicing the soldiers as they came to town on leave. The lucky ones would find a regular "boyfriend" who would leave enough money to provide for them while they were away. The others relied on theft, which had become a very serious problem. So serious that an edict had been passed that anyone caught stealing or trying to forge paperwork or checks would be shot on site. Rewards were given for anyone who turned someone in suspected of the crime.

I was a Catholic nun, a missionary, in my early 30's. The sisters I lived with were native to the region and they were my friends, although I didn't trust one of them. She was heavy set and loud and brash. Because she had only given birth to two children, both of the same father - a wealthy soldier she'd deliberately chosen because of his financial prospects - she considered herself superior to her wafer thin sister. In her eyes, her sister was weak and stupid because she mated for love and had five children by different fathers. Even so, she loved her sister.

She was nice to my face, but I knew she didn't like me because she thought I was after her man. Funny, that bit of suspicion, and groundless. But people will believe what they believe.

The thin sister loved me unabashedly and considered me a sister as well. As I stood looking across the land that day, she came to me crying with her youngest baby perched on a hip. He was hungry and her milk had dried up because we didn't have enough food. She was terrified her baby would die.

We went into the house to find the heavy sister to see what we could come up with between the three of us. She was worried too, and for once didn't argue. Her soldier had left his checkbook in case of an emergency, but the checks weren't signed. Because I was the only educated one and less likely to draw suspicion, it was agreed that I would take the pocketbook to the bank, forge his signature, and return with supplies. I was scared, but I thought I could pull it off.

Shaking with nerves, I stepped out of the house and ran into the neighbors from next door, dropping the pocketbook, scattering its contents. They eyed me suspiciously as I raced to pick up the papers, certain they would turn me in for a reward. The skinny sister came out and started a fuss to distract them, so I was able to escape.

I made my way toward the bank, down winding alleys deep into the city. I turned a corner and there was a half-wall in front of three bank teller windows that were protected by double thick, bulletproof glass. The half-wall ended with an entrance open to the alley. Behind the teller windows were bank tellers and behind the bank tellers were tall, burly guards armed with machine guns.

I rounded the entrance in the half-wall and went to the far window since the other two were occupied. I told the teller I was going to make a withdrawal. When he turned to get the proper forms, I suddenly realized I didn't know how to sign Fat Sister's boyfriend's check.

Sweat broke out on my upper lip as I leafed back through the checkbook to see if there was anything with his signature on it. The teller was stalled, chatting with one of the guards. I wondered what it would be like to die from machine gun fire. Flipping pages as fast as I could, I almost cried when I found his signature. It would be easy to forge. I carefully signed the check, made it out for what the sister told me was the available balance, and slid the check under the window to the teller who had just returned. It was almost over.

I heard shouts behind me. I turned to see a group of what looked like young teenage boys with handkerchiefs over their noses and mouths, waving machine guns. The two people next to me had already ducked behind the half-wall when I felt the wind of the first bullet pass my cheek. The boys were trying to shoot out the windows, and the guards behind the glass were helping them by returning their fire.

Pieces of brick and chipped glass rained over my head. I don't know what happened to the other two people, but I duck-walked in my crouched position toward the entrance to the alley. I'd finally made it and stood up to run, when I felt a hand slip around me from behind, covering my mouth. A gun was pressed to my temple. I turned terrified eyes on the one holding me and saw ferocious, terrified eyes looking back. He couldn't have been more than fourteen years old.

For the second time that day I wondered what a bullet would feel like as it entered my body.

I could hear screams and gunfire, I could smell gun powder, dust, and sweat. But time stood still as I pleaded a silent plea while this young boy decided if my life would end or not. There was no one else in the world at that moment but the two of us.

He pushed the hadgun into the side of my forehead until it started to bleed, then dropped his hand away and stepped back.

I ran.

I ran for the docks. I didn't know where else to go. It seemed like the entire city was running and screaming with me as we made our way to the port. Only I didn't have money for passage on any of the boats. People were scurrying all around me, buying their tickets to get out, but I just sat down on a bench and watched.

Any sense of urgency drained away as I realized my situation. The city was being overrun. I couldn't go back to the sisters; they were dead for all I knew. And I didn't have anything but the clothes on my back.

Not only that, but I was 31 years old and I had never been in love. I would never have children. My life was over and I had given everything up for a God who abandoned me in a desolate country. I became overwhelmed with grief for the life I would never have. I had nothing.

Tied to the docks were ships of all sizes, tossed by growing waves. I watched as one ship in particular was tossed higher and harder against the pier. It rammed the pier over and over until finally it was dashed against the surface. It began to sink and some of the passengers had been thrown out onto the crushed pier, buried under broken wood planks and debris.

I ran with some other people to see if we could help rescue any of the injured. A voice called out from under a pile of rubble. I frantically tossed away pieces of wood to get to the person underneath. Then I saw him. He was a French soldier and he was hurt, but he would live. He blinked up at me and I knew what it was like to be in love.

God had not abandoned me; He just had plans I didn't know about until I got to the end of what I thought He wanted for me.

Then I woke up. The dream was over, but it was so vivid and real I couldn't stop thinking about it.

I had to do a little research to find out if any of it could be true.

It turns out there is a city on the coast of West Africa called Benin. Catholic missionaries settled there in the late 1800's and Catholicism is the main religion. They won their independence from France between 1962 and 1964 and the city is widely known for its winding alleys.

4 Comments:

Blogger Cat said...

Holy crap! Now that's a dream! and here I thought I had crazy dreams. And you, a Catholic nun??? Look pretty good for being a million years old though!! hehehe

7:07 PM  
Blogger Pity Party Princess said...

I truly believe you were channeling a former life, another soul something.

I prolly will be called names and ridiculed for it, but there are so many things we do not understand, just like there are things I just know, without explination or reason.

That is why it is truly hard to lie to me, I may not call you on it, but I know. I just use the information in a file, for my benefit only...Oh well...

Too bad you don't know the girls name. Maybe you dreamed it for a specific reason..

WOW how powerful and yet helpless you must hae felt after that.

BTW... I had fun hanging out with you guys last night.. It was nice and comforting...

11:02 AM  
Blogger Cas said...

Right back atcha sista!

It would make sense (as much sense as any of it) if it were a past life, but I hope not because that means she didn't live long after finding her love.

I like DL's theory that maybe she died the night I had the dream. Maybe her memories were so intense she projected them to me when she died so they could be shared.

Who knows?

2:19 PM  
Blogger Master of My Own Small Universe said...

That's my theory, that our lives do indeed pass before our eyes at the moment of truth. Those vivid memories can't just disappear, anymore than a soul does. The soul is eternal, why not our memories?

Maybe that is what happens, that as our souls wing their way homeward, they brush the souls of those who are most open and there is a transfer. And when would one be most open that during sleep...

7:38 PM  

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