Dream - January 12, 2022

I had a dream last night, and it's unnerving to remember. It coincides, I think, with my acceptance of reality as it currently is. After the CDC made some careless comments about people with comorbidities being the ones who are dying from the pandemic, and that was good news, I came to a realization about my own mortality.

The hospitals are currently overwhelmed. I may not, medically, be able to get the booster shot for the virus since I had such a terrible reaction to the second shot in the first series. I have more than a few chronic illnesses — spinal stenosis, GERD, fibromyalgia, and several mental health diagnoses — and I am disabled. I am currently having, what I think, is another GERD flare-up, but have had a few concerning moments with my heart that are likely stress-related. I'm not at risk for a heart problem.

But in the event something terrible were to happen with my health, I'd be out of luck. And after the CDC mentioned that they were okay with people like me being collateral damage, I reached unconsciously back into my DBT notebook and brought forth radical acceptance.

Whatever happens, happens. It is what it is. I can spend my time worrying about my health and being upset that I may not be able to go outside again due to it not being safe, or I can continue to create as I always have and accept things as they are. I'll just enjoy what I can of my life. If I'm lucky, I hope to see a day where we can all go outside safely again.

I've also been listening to The Weeknd's new album, Dawn FM, which touches heavily on themes of regret and acceptance while resting in purgatory before you move on. Dawn FM is the last radio station you hear before you pass into the afterlife.

So it isn't really so odd I had a dream like this one last night. I attempted to write it out in a format that's readable instead of jotting notes.

* * *

The apartment was small, but it was big enough.

Standing in the doorway, I glanced around in the soft white glow of the kitchen light. Directly ahead was a small balcony closed off by a large glass sliding door. I dropped my bag onto the tan carpet and approached it, noticing the lack of courtesy blinds. It didn’t matter. No one would see me up there.

I looked out over an overcast city. A storm had been threatening for some time but never appeared, and it left everything painted in murky sepia. It was the way of the end of the world, I supposed. This apartment was my last stop before eternity claimed me, and where I would end up then I didn’t know.

As I observed the sparse city below — its buildings neglected and a few people scattered about trying to find some sense of normalcy — I found a sense of peace. No one knew when the end would come, but everyone made the best of it anyway. Even if it meant exhuming old problems that made people feel most alive.

Arguing next door took me away from my moment of peace, and I ventured to the shared door at the other end of the living room. I pressed my ear against it but was quickly taken off-balance as it opened. A couple argued and threw up their hands as the woman stormed into my apartment, and the husband trailed after her. They seemed to not notice me, but it didn’t bother me. I stood by and watched for a moment as they approached my balcony.

Something tugged at my memory, and I turned to take in the entirety of the living room. Many things had been left behind by the old tenant, although no one knew who they were or where they’d gone. It was strange. People just disappeared anymore without a trace.

My eyes grew wide. How did that get there?

I fell onto a seat before an old 90s Casio electric keyboard. It was just like the one I’d had as a child. In fact, it was the one I’d had as a child.

I smiled and powered it to life and pressed a key, and I was happy to see that it still worked. I thought my family and I had sold it in a garage sale, or it had died at some point. The memories were hazy due to PTSD taking up most of my brain for so many years, but it didn’t matter. It was there now. Perhaps I’d gotten lucky and found the buyer, and we really had sold it all those years ago.

I didn’t have a natural inclination to create music despite my love for it, but I pressed the keys like I had as a child, just making music by the sound of each note regardless of how bad it sounded. I remembered the couple arguing behind me and turned just enough to see my balcony, and they stood silently just leaning on the cement railing around it. I’d expected to feel self-conscious as usual, but I didn’t. Not in the slightest.

I returned to my music as I looked around the apartment. The sounds of fake drums and old synths filled the room as I began to see more things that seemed vaguely familiar, although I couldn't quite place them. It didn’t feel like home even though it should have, and I had a sneaking suspicion it was some sort of liminal space — a transitionary place I would only pass through. I felt as if my life were hanging on the precipice, or that my own personal story had reached a cliffhanger and I wasn’t sure what would happen next. Limbo.

* * *

Later that evening after I’d heated up some food in the microwave, I noticed the arguing couple had been absent for the rest of the day. I couldn't remember what they’d been talking about afterward, but they’d seemed to find some peace. It was nice, considering I wasn’t eager to share my space with other people, but it didn’t bother me either. We were all waiting for the end, whenever it was.

After some time, I grew suspicious of the silence and set my TV dinner aside. I approached the pine-wood door and pressed my ear against it once more. It was quiet.

I turned the brass knob that didn’t have a lock, and when it opened, I came face to face with a dimly lit, white grungy bathroom. It was just big enough to fit one person inside and nothing more.

I approached the mirror, but it did not reflect my face. There was no tub or shower, just a small toilet and sink with a medicine cabinet above it. I ran my fingers around the edges of the cabinet to search for anything suspicious. The mirror on the door reflected everything but me no matter how I moved it, but it wasn’t odd. I felt like a faceless being in the world anymore as it was — a ghost in society as I always had been. But I’d been emotionally blind to the truth. I’d wasted so many days being anxious and upset, or observing a reality that simply wasn’t there. Now that the end approached, I had to find myself again. I had a feeling it was behind that strange mirror in the cabinet.

The smooth white wood came free from the tiled wall, and I pulled it off to find a small hole. I closed one eye and bent slightly to get a better look, and I noticed an apartment on the other side. It was mostly barren with faded floral wallpaper and brown carpet.

“Hey there,” came a comforting voice. Long, straight brown hair and a friendly face followed, and the woman on the other side with brown eyes smiled. “Are you lonely too?”

I smiled back. At least there was someone I could find comfort in. “Yeah, but I’m alright. I’ve found my own happiness.”

Her brow furrowed. “But you’ve lost something. Do you know where to look for it?”

I noticed more of the woman as she shifted to get comfortable. She wore an old green tank top and was quite thin. The sight of her warmed my heart like I’d found an old friend in such a lonely world, but I’d never met her before that I could remember. Perhaps she held answers I’d been searching for.

I fell into thought. Was it here somewhere? Would it matter now? “I’m not sure. I found my keyboard, though. It’s been fun to play again.” An idea struck me. There was no point in hanging out alone anymore. “Hey, do you want to come over in a bit for tea?”

The woman smiled and nodded as she grabbed an open brown sweater. It appeared to be knitted. “Sure! I’ll be over when it gets dark.”

I pulled back from the hole at the same time as the woman, and I returned to my living room without shutting the door. I noticed an old white wooden dresser in the middle of the room I’d missed before, and as I approached it, its large mirror on a swivel greeted me. Yes, I remembered that dresser! Something came clearer in the mirror.

I looked around and noticed all sorts of things scattered across its surface. On the ground and spilling out of the three drawers, various jewelry, intimates, clothing, and accessories lay. Most were of a punk or Gothic style. Something I felt a fondness for.

A keychain hanging from the mirror’s edge caught my sight, and I grabbed it. A medium, circular and distressed tag with black stains fit into the palm of my hand as I turned it around. The metal was quite heavy. There were words around the edge, and when I turned the disk, I noticed a name I’d become all-too-familiar with.

Emotion welled up within me and I grabbed the disk tight. I pulled a small ball-chain necklace from the mirror’s edge and slipped the disk onto it before placing it around my neck. “Blackheart.” I’d never taken the name officially, but I’d always wished to. To see that as my surname rather than the one my family had given me filled me with completion, and when I looked into the mirror, my image became clear.

Long black hair, big black glasses, clean-shaven, a little chubby. A confident smile I’d never worn before spread across my face. I knew that smile all too well. It wasn’t mine, but Zagan Lestan’s, my oldest spirit guide and friend — and lover.

I turned to the keyboard once more as a knock came at my door. I sunk to the floor as my body lost strength, and as I caught a glimpse of my hand before my face, I saw the metal disk with my true name on it resting in my palm once more.

Everything went black as my head rested on the rough brown carpet.


©2022 Shane Blackheart

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