It all started with this dream I had. I was in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago during the end of the world. For a post-apocalyptic scenario I remember things being eerily serene. Destruction for the Palmer House wasn’t like watching a De Mille movie, no, it was like watching the universe expand. The Palmer House was expanding till it could no longer sustain its shape. Matter was loosing strength because it was being stretched out too far. Things became vast.


Looking up at the murals I saw glimmers of unknown panels growing their own narratives. Rolling along the ceiling a small mylar balloon that read “Congratulation!” fluttered its tail. I wondered how they would get it down, but then reminded myself that there wasn’t enough time. That in this situation, it was no longer relevant to the context within which it was placed.


When I ran up the ever-growing stairs to the elevators I saw the pattern of architecture repeating into oblivion. With every step, I felt the carpet stretch under my feet like skin. When I finally opened my hotel room door, I was transported to my teenage bedroom in Los Angeles.


As I lay in my bed hearing the yapping Chihuahuas and feeling the ochre beams of light warm my skin, I mentally prepared for the end of the world. I looked down at my beige carpet, while my walls grew further away from my island bed. I actively thought to myself: Well, it’s the end of the world. How do I feel about this?…. I guess I’ll miss my parents. With that I took a large breath in and waited for death. But death never came. Instead I woke up in that same bed thinking to myself- I’ve been stood up.


I’m not someone who particularly cries for no reason but after that dream I did. I was just sitting in that very bed again talking to someone on my computer when I was revisited by that dream. All those same feeling entered me and made me feel like I was waiting for a lover. Or even worse, like that lover had cheated on me because I wasn’t satisfying its desires. That’s when I decided I needed to become good enough for Death.


Yet what I had soon realized after wiping away my tears was that Death had only stood me up because I was, in fact, cheating on him with his cousin Sleep.  My life had become so intertwined with the sweet caresses and warm embrace of Sleep I no longer differentiated between the two states. In the dream world I took challenges as they were presented and realized in the long run it didn’t matter. While in the real world I fulfilled what was expected of me, did some light navel gazing and continued on my way. There was no subconscious because there simply wasn’t conscious.


For a while Sleep provided me with everything that I needed. My real world had become so barren and so empty Sleep was my liaison to a more exciting life. I was taken back into my subconscious to frolic in whispers of my memories. He provided me with challenges he knew I could solve and took forms of those inaccessible in the real world to guide and love me.


I learned how to operate in the dream world too: how to control things, how to continue plotlines, what form Sleep would take and even how to control some of the emotions felt.  However, the more concrete my dreamworld became the more fragmented my life became. Hours passed at inhuman speeds, my motivations and logic became fragmented and my surroundings switched from intense violence to awkward quiet. All I could do was glide and let life pass through me till I was safe again with my Sleep.


I realized something in my dream about the end of the world. Although Sleep had attempted to be a tender lover, he had one flaw- vanity. Sleep could only operate within its own perspective. Its only interest in me was to use me in piecing together terrains, plots and scenarios. Sleep would never be able to give me something I already didn’t know; that I already didn’t have within myself. Death on the other hand, was comprised solely of the unknown. With Death I could learn something not just of myself but everything around me.


So I stopped fooling around with Sleep. At first slowly, so he didn’t notice. I’d cut out an hour or two earlier pretending I had a previous engagement or an early work meeting. Then I started skipping days. Pretty soon I’d only drop in for a couple of hours a week.  Sleep started noticing something was up when I no longer hit the alarm button twice in the mornings in order to drift in and out of him. Instead I’d awaken in a jump and leave Sleep curled up in my bed with its inky shadow staining my sheets.


After awhile Sleep started to get vindictive and it took revenge on me. It had been my sixth day of not sleeping when Sleep started blending my consciousnesses even further. Even though I was awake, I felt as though my body was made of jello and my molecules reverberated when I touched anything. The caffeine caught in my body formed a small infant in me that felt like it was having a never-ending tantrum in my heart. I went about my business with this electric heaviness in my core and baring all the love-pangs that Sleep dealt.


After my second week of not sleeping, it finally happened. I had finally attracted the eye of Death. Every time I blinked Death seemed to be floating closer and closer to me.  Finally, I felt him clasp his boney hand around my head and bring me in for a delicate kiss. With that kiss he devoted himself to me and I’ve been with him ever since. Now I live in the Unknown with him. Sometimes Sleep comes over to visit his new nephew and that’s a little awkward but we’ve managed to get through it. I’d tell you more about it but you just wouldn’t understand.

Sweet Dreams

© 2012 Molly Jo Shea. all rights reserved. 

mollyjosheart@gmail.com