Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)
I rarely have nightmares, but when I do they are vivid in detail--from smells to creeping sunlight reflecting off tiny dust specks. I only remember having two from my childhood. In one, the devil was chasing my father down a slide. In another, my grandmother had turned into a werescorpion. I've only woken up in the middle of a nightmare once, at my parents' house. I was staying the night before leaving on one of my many jaunts to Mexico. It wasn't very involved, but it was harrowing because it seemed so real. Everything was very normal and I woke up at sunrise. The room was barely lit with that morning gray before the light comes in the windows. I had just opened my eyes to look at the clock and see what time it was. At my bedside was a man, kneeling next to me, about six inches from my face. He was about 40 or so, blonde hair, blue eyes, a bit of razor stubble, wearing a black sweater. I looked at him and he didn't move. He was glaring at me. Then, still not moving, he smiled this horrible creepy "I'm going to slice you into pieces" smile and I started screaming. My parents both ran into the room and I woke up to my dad shaking me. He said that I'd been sitting upright in the bed with my eyes open wailing like a banshee. "Freaky, kid, like in Day of the Triffids
, " he'd said. Of course, no one was there.
Most of my nightmares have always had to do with my family, with terrible things happening. I suppose that's simply my subconscious fear of loss, change, being out of control...all that psychological stuff. I had a dream once that there was a man in my house (again, my parents' house) who had killed my mother and my brother. I was hiding from him and desperately looking for something to fight him with. My dad was still alive and he was calling to me to go get the gun out of his closet. He kept telling me it would be ok, that we were going to be ok. I ran out of the closet with the gun and was calling for my dad, looking for him in every room. I couldn't hear him anymore, and I stopped in the hallway. The intruder called to me in a very quiet sing-song voice. Come see your daddy, sweetheart. He's in here. He's waiting for you.
I wasn't afraid so much as I was in a rage. I was thinking that my dad would get this guy for what he'd done. I kept screaming, "Fuck you!!!!" I noticed that there was a laundry basket in the middle of the foyer. I walked over to it and looked down. My dad's head was laying inside it. That's when I woke up.
The last really awful nightmare I had was when I was living alone in L.A. I had a peach comfortor on my bed that I'd had since I was a teenager. I took it out and threw it into the dumpster after this dream. I was about 17, still living at home. My room was a mess and my peach comfortor was laying crumpled on the floor next to my bed. I was sitting on the bed, listening to the radio and doing homework. My mom came in and asked me if I'd seen my sister (I don't have any sisters in real life). My sister was about a year or so older than me and was always running around getting into trouble. I told my mother that I hadn't seen her and went back to my work. Mom told me that she and my dad were going to the grocery store and they'd be back in a couple of hours. I nodded my head and kept working. While my parents were gone, I made myself a sandwich and took it back to my room. I called a couple of friends. I just passed the time doing very ordinary things. By the time my parents got home it was almost dark and my sister still hadn't come home. My mother made several phone calls to neighbors and friends. She was starting to get really pissed and was telling my dad that this time they were going to have to do something about this leaving without telling them where she was off to. We had dinner and I went back to my room to get ready for bed. My mother came in and started bitching at me about my room being a mess and how I shouldn't leave things all over the floor all the time. She bent down and picked up the comfortor to put it back on my bed and froze. She just stood there for what seemed like forever and then opened her mouth and this gut-wrenching howl came out of her. I looked down and my sister was there, dead, rigormortis set in, with a needle sticking out of her arm. The most awful thing about that dream was knowing when I woke up that the cry I'd heard was exactly what my mother would sound like if one of her children died. I could hardly bring myself to touch that peach comfortor the next morning, even to take it out to the trash. And I never leave blankets and such on my floor anymore.