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The House of Dreams

In a dark room the man slept. His rest was fitful. While his eyelids remained closed, they twitched. While his body lay flat on the straw mattress, his members stirred, muscles tensing under taunt skin. Near him, outside of the sleep area, a woman was sitting, looking at him. She wore a long blue dress that fell to her sandals. Her long black hair fell around her shoulder as she watched the sleeping man, but she did not feel sleepy. An older woman came from the hallway, poking her face in. "How is he?" She asked with a whisper.

The young woman did not turn. "His sleep is full of dreams."

The man must have heard her. He gasped and his eyes opened, staring at the ceiling. The young woman placed her right hand on the mat next to his shoulder. She lowered her body until her face came close to his left ear.

"Tell me your dream," she whispered in a soft voice.

He lifted his right hand, met her body, held her arm. She slowly moved away. "After. After. First, tell me your dream." His hand fell back. Then, slowly, he drew breath, then began to speak in a soft, low voice.

"I was flying, among the trees, above the reeds of the swamp. I was afraid I would fall into the swamp, but I didn't. Then I flew higher, above the trees, and into the clouds, and above the clouds. Then there was nothing. No clouds. Nothing. And I felt cold. It was dark. Then I heard a voice calling my name, from behind. I tried to turn around but the voice kept calling me from behind. Then I was in the reeds again, and it was warm, and my feet were in the waters of the swamp, up to my ankle. The water was warm and soft, like velvet, or silk. The reeds were thick, taller than me. I could see they were deep red, pulsing like veins, with lights of deep red coursing through them. As I walked, I brushed them aside with my arms. They felt warm to the touch, warm like living flesh. Above me the sky was pink and purple like a sunset, with great orange streaks. Then I heard the groan of the buffalo near me. I ran in the reeds to try to get away from the buffalo, but the reeds caught me, kept catching me so I wouldn't fall, but also would not let me go. Then I smelled the buffalo near me, and I tried to turn around, but the buffalo fell on me, and the buffalo crushed me with its body, and I felt I was going to get crushed, but then it wasn't so bad. The buffalo turned its head toward me and it had a woman's face, and a woman's body, and then it wasn't so bad, and instead of thick fur, its skin was smooth. It tried to kiss me but I did not let it. I knew it was a buffalo. I didn't want to get cursed."

The man lifted himself on his left elbow, and turned his body to face the woman. "I've told you my dream. Now..." And he reached for her hand.

She felt his strong fingers around her fingers, and did not pull back. She whispered: "Tell me the rest of the dream first."

She followed his lead and entwined her fingers in his. He looked her in the eyes, from a hand span away, and spoke: "The buffalo woman was naked, and her body was pressing on mine, and my manhood stiffened and grew and she smiled and bellowed like a buffalo when I impaled her with my spear. Suddenly she was very light and we floated together, bound by our legs and arms, like a strange salamander floating in water. And she spoke to me with the voice of a child and she told me she wanted to be born and live and come to live with me in my world."

The man stopped and stared at the woman. "Then you woke me up, speaking with the old woman, who whispers loud."

He pulled her to him, slipped the dress off her and took her without saying a word, just staring into her eyes as she stared back. When the lust was consumed and his eyes grew heavy again, she kissed his cheek near his ear and whispered: "Sleep, and when you wake, tell me your dream."

In a moment, his breathing fell to a trickle, and she knew he was out again. She stood, put her dress back on, and lightly stepped out. As she entered the hallway, another tall woman in a long blue dress and long black hair stood up. They looked at each other, acknowledging each other, and, wordlessly, the second woman entered the room and sat next to the man, to watch him sleep, to perhaps receive a dream, and if lucky, to enter the man's inner life with her body.

Two days later, she saw the man working, carrying lumber. He did not recognize her. She followed him in the street. When at last he was done with his work, he turned to her: "You've been following me. Why?"

She blushed, feeling very nervous suddenly, out of her element, in the brightness of the day. "I'm a dream catcher."

His eyes sparkled. His mouth formed a delicious smile. She stepped up to him and kissed him. He held her and they kissed. Some passersby glanced at them only shortly.

"What is your name?" He asked.

She did not answer. She suddenly felt quite afraid. "I cannot tell you." She hid her face in shame. She started to turn away, but he held her hand. Then he spoke: "Walk with me."

They began walking in silence, holding hands. "I know what they say about the women in the house of dreams. I don't care what they say. I want you to come live at my house, and be my wife, and be the mother of my children."

She stayed silent. She felt ashamed for not being from a good family, for the terrible things she had endured, for she way she was about to say no to this man, who offered her what she had no right to expect.

They stopped at a street vendor and he bought her a sweet filled with strawberries and cream. She almost refused to take it. He saw uncertainty in her eyes. He spoke: "You may think you cannot be my wife, and you may have lots of reasons, but I also have lots of reasons why you should. Eat."

She ate in silence, then they resumed walking, hand in hand. They paused by a pond in a park where a white swan swam contentedly.

He took both her hands in his, facing her.

"I am Jasan, carpenter, builder of temples and houses for families. What is your name?"

She looked up to his smiling eyes, took a deep breath, then said: "I am Maega, your wife."

April 20, 2014, sitting at the Blue Ice Cafe in Northridge with Viggo (who played computer games on my phone), after watching Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the Winnetka 14 theatre.

© 2014 Christopher Mahan