You Screamed

I had a nightmare two nights ago.

We went to a celebration, a wedding I think. We were in a house I didn’t recognize. Long wooden floors and wide breezeways. We were upstairs, you and I. People I knew, though none in this plane of existence, held glasses with wine and chatted. Some were in couples and others in clumps. Through the large doorway I could see a half-wall that was crowning a stairwell that led downstairs where others were also mingling. You left my side. I watched you walk away, thinking you were fragile from your health troubles. I tried not to worry and sipped my drink as I watched your back as you turned the corner out of my sight.

Then I heard it. You falling down the stairs, hard. I could hear you yelling in pain as you went down. Thud, holler, thud, holler. The crunchy sounds of bones cracking. The people around me were gone and it was just me, staring at the half-wall waiting for the sounds to stop. Knowing it was you, your body, doing a terrifying ballet down the steps. I tried to make my legs move. To go peer over the half-wall, but I was telling myself it wasn’t you. Then another series of thuds. I had this idea for some reason that a large cabinet tipped and went end over end down the stairs and landed on you. In fact I knew that was what had happened. The thing was gigantic and heavy. I heard it stop at the bottom, sounding as though it landed in wet cement, and you screamed. It was horrifying. You screamed high and frantic, a voice I’d never heard come out of you before, “Get it off of me! Get it off of me!” Your pain was palpable. You tried to scream more, but it came out in sickening gurgles. Then I knew I couldn’t go to the stairwell and peer over the half-wall. I knew it was going to be awful. I also had this odd effect of feeling as though if I didn’t look, it wouldn’t be true.

I woke up. It was 1:37am. In another lifetime I would have walked to the part of the house where you were in and checked on you. Or phoned you. Or at the very least, later, when things had really changed, emailed. Just to make sure you were indeed, not at the bottom of a strange stairwell in some giant house, your life seeping out of you.

I realized there was nowhere to put this feeling. No place to store it or let it go, so I drank some water and went to the restroom – life is full of these little cycles, isn’t it? Water. Pee. Cycles. Back to bed. I kept hearing the scream as if I had actually heard it in real life and was now having some kind of flashback. I lay there, tried to just tell myself it didn’t matter. The screams would fade. Sleep would find me. And it did, only to have several more nightmares, but none of them as awful as that first one.

I was tired the next day – yesterday. I kept having moments where the thought of the screams made my stomach sour. How could I find ways to not care? For it to not matter?

I remembered a huge part of why it is impossible to even have the smallest of exchanges. I remembered the irony of the anger of a person so concerned about their name, being in my correspondence, or in my mouth – a person who stole names. Squatted in them like a vagrant’s hovel. Pissing on things to mark them, then growling over the territory like a rabid coyote. Hypocrite. It makes it easier to let go of concern when you remember how little there is for you.

I again pushed aside the idea of checking on you. Each time I pushed the thought away, it was easier to look at from a distance. As the feeling would rise for a moment, then fall further away each time. I kept walking away from it. I kept imagining ways I could walk faster. Then I remembered that I’m a writer. So, here I am in the middle of the night – letting go.