Cobwebs brush my face as I step into the wooden hut, and I notice that the corners are masses of spiderwebs. I hear a noise behind me, and turn to see that Ian has tripped and fallen to his hands. I smile because he is, and laughing.
I lunge toward him when I see the spider jump from the ground to his chest, and frantically swipe it to the ground before it can crawl onto Ian’s face. I’m flooded with relief, and put my arms around my son.
But I was too late, too slow. Ian’s face is flushed, heat coming in waves from his skin, and he’s not breathing. Terrified, I reach for my cell phone. In my e-mail, I try to describe the spider in hopes of finding an antidote. Black, with orange stripes. Legs like barber-poles.
It’s useless. Either they’ve never seen the spider before, or I’m not describing it well enough. Ian is rigid, trembling, dying. ‘No,’ I think to myself. ‘This isn’t working. This isn’t how it goes.’
So I wake up.
I wasn’t scared, or even upset. In those final few moments, somehow I realized I was dreaming, and things weren’t working out as I’d planned. In that instant, the dream me became the dreaming me, the fear turned into stubbornness, and my son was sleeping soundly in the next room.
I realized three things, as I took my shower this morning:
- The spider attacked Ian, and not me.
- I’ve woken from fear in dreams, reflexively, but never intentionally.
- Dreams are a luxury.