A Greek demigod, an English mermaid, and an ICU patient walk into a bar…
I woke sometime around 3 a.m., not the scan-the-room-for-threats-and-the-nightstand-gun bolt, but the relief of being back in your own bed. It was just a dream. It was a dream, right?
I spent much of last night in Purgatory, and it wasn’t a version I have encountered before in books, TV, or film. For most of the dream, I was alone in a white waiting room thinking on my life. I seem to recall that’s one of the things we used to do more routinely before our electronic perpetual distraction devices prevented all meaningful introspection.
At one point, the booming voice of God announced, without preamble, that I would die on the 19th. Okay, I thought, that’s news you can use. Somehow, I got into Purgatory before His declaration or my demise, and I left a few times to enter this foreign slum. It now reminds me of the Bogota scenes I tried to lay out in The Confession, but it wasn’t precisely that place. I alternately strolled and hurried through the shantytown, but I can’t now tell you what motivated my haste. I walked into one of the houses looking for someone. Who? Why? Unknown.
As the 19th drew to a close, I was again in the waiting room, falling asleep. This is it. What happens next?
I woke, still in the waiting room. It’s the 20th. I stood, walked out the door, and woke up in my bed. I laid still for a long time pondering what this might mean. Was God wrong? Was it God? If not, who forecast my death and let me break the ethereal boundaries?
As I peck this out, I’m now considering my current grad school paper as an accessory. I’m writing on the history of mythological creatures and their meaning to societies and cultures over time. One section is dedicated to half-human hybrids that tend to test the boundaries of human existence and morality. A significant number of hybrids descend from ancient Greek and Hindu traditions that pre-date history; this inconvenient truth prevents us from knowing or studying the specific society and culture that originated the tales. I digress, but this is Suspect #1.
We’ve had another COVID outbreak in our immediate family, which has caused some concern over what happens in the days and weeks ahead. Maybe that’s it? Suspect #2.
Maybe a Greek demigod, an English mermaid, a little Imposter Syndrome, and a hypothetical COVID-induced ICU trip conspired to present this overnight movie clip? Did the Greek presume he got to make the announcement, based on his social status? I think the Imposter Syndrome would have added some unkind words about my inadequacies.
Between grad school, creative writing, and my side hustle, I don’t do much but work. I plan to use my winter break from school to catch up on other…work…so, maybe this is my half-dead subconscious offering a reasonable prediction of what lays ahead when the candle burns too long from both ends? Suspect #3.
While I relayed my overnight travels to Mrs. Reese, her first question was how I felt about my impending death. In the dream, she clarified. Introspective, I explained. Not anxious or fearful. I remember feeling unsure about what the 20th would bring, but I didn’t feel apprehension or regret. Given the gamut of last-minute suffering possible for the mortally doomed, I’ll take it.
My great aunt and uncle used to get together with close friends to talk about spirituality and dream analysis. I wish they were still here; this would have made great conversation with them. The benefit for them is that they already know what’s next.
I’ll add this one to the Unsolved Mysteries file and get back to work. This candle isn’t going to burn itself. Be safe out there.