Sunday, February 24, 2008

Choking the way childhood felt

I’m in the backseat of the car with my father and mother, we get to the parking lot but it has big glass doors like a fancy department store, Saks or Lord & Taylor or Neiman Marcus, and on the other side is a one-lane highway with cars speeding by and somehow we have to open the glass doors and make a 90-degree turn into traffic to get inside. It all seems impossible, but somehow we do it and then we have to go down five levels so that each time the front of the car slams down on the cement at an incredibly steep angle that seems impossible, but then we have to get to the next floor. I say to my father: you’re driving too fast! But he ignores me. I’m used to it.

Then we’re in a field with beach towels, maybe it’s July 4 and I hear someone screaming from the distance. I ask my father: was that Mom? No answer again.

Then I realize it is my mother, she’s having a seizure and I rush to her, I’m holding her head and petting her like a little girl, saying it’s okay, it’s okay, while my father is taking her pulse but he’s pushing too hard. I say stop, you’re pushing too hard, but he ignores me. I say to my mother: what’s wrong?

My mother is calmer now but about to pass out, she says Bill, am I on a new medication? I say to my father: what is she on? My father says: I didn’t write the prescription. I say I know that it’s against medical ethics for you to write the prescription, but you can’t tell me you don’t know what she’s on.

My father ignores me, he looks down at my mother on the beach towel and sees a small red button on the front of her neck. What’s this, he says, and he pushes the button like a little kid all excited to see what happens. My mother jumps up in a seizure again, and runs away shrieking. I’m screaming at my father: you’re trying to kill her!

Waking up, I remember that my father’s dead and I’m still trying to save my mother, even if she’s the one who should have saved me. From him. From herself. And I was just thinking about when my sister used to wake up in the middle of the night shrieking help! Help! And my mother would come in and soothe her back to sleep, saying it’s okay. Just like I’m telling my mother in the dream. I realize that at the beginning of the dream we’re in the parking lot where I used to cruise in high school, the mall with Saks and Neiman Marcus and those glass doors. I learned to lead men down staircase after staircase until we were at the bottom, half a level after the parking lot ended but in the dream we’re driving the car down the same angle as stairs but there are none. In Safe, Julianne Moore speeds into a parking lot when she starts choking on exhaust fumes and that’s kind of how it feels in the dream, not exhaust just choking the way childhood felt. I’m still trying to breathe.

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