Journal entry: October 23, 1976 (age 7) – Bad Dreams
As my back sank against the cold tile wall, my arms flailed madly in a final, futile effort to keep IT from getting me. My heart, pounding on the door of my chest, wanted to be let out. I looked up into the harsh light and cried out the answer the thing was demanding of me. “Gerald Ford! Gerald Ford!!”
There was a pause. “That’s right, Timmy. And where are you now?” The questioner’s voice was transforming from demonic to dad-like. “The bathroom?” I said, looking confusedly around me. Why was I crouched in the bathtub, wearing my plaid flannel PJs? Why were my bleary-eyed parents standing over me, wearing their PJs? Why had the snarling, yellow, face-feasting fiend disappeared? (Had peer pressure sent him searching for his own PJs?)
That was last night. I’ve had lots of bad dreams before, but that one was a doozy. My older brothers said this one was in the all-time top 10 of “Timmy freak-outs.” All the bad ones end with a debriefing by my dad. He has a really deep, comforting voice, and it brings me back to Earth pretty quickly.
Now, I’m angry at myself for last night. I forgot to use a very useful trick I picked up a dozen dreams ago. During another recent visit from the Yellow Thing, it occurred to me that I was having a nightmare, and that I could simply choose to wake up. I remember smiling at the disappointed face of my corn-colored enemy as I melted from his grasp. “So long, sucker!”
I think my main monster spent the intervening waking hours coming up with an effective counter-attack. Last night, he pursued me with such full-throttle, screeching persistence that I didn’t have time to think about my state of consciousness. Next time, I’m going to stop him with a stiff arm right away and say, “Alright, hang on a second there, Sparky.” That’ll give me time to pull a sweatshirt over his head that says, “Kick me – I’m a figment.”
That will still leave me with the problems posed by my other recurring nightmare. I’m not sure it’s really a dream, though, because it doesn’t consist of sight and sound. It’s more of a “touchmare.” Sometimes when I’m lying in the dark, I feel the things around me getting bigger and heavier. My blanket suddenly feels like a thick slab of concrete, and everything in my bedroom starts to loom over me. This isn’t something that I see, but I always get the mental image of a single hair exploding out to the thickness of a tree trunk. It’s hard to breathe, because I feel like the whole world is crushing me.
Yeah, that one is worse. I’m trapped under all that weight, so I can’t get up and slam around the house until my parents wake up. I can’t even make a sound. I guess I could try the whole “I know this is a dream” thing, but I’d already be in my bedroom, so there’d be nowhere to travel back to. Plus, I’d need to bring a much bigger sweatshirt.
Another weird thing is that I can’t remember how that dream ends, or how I wake up. Maybe I finally manage to get out a single word: “Ow.”