I wake up in what used to be my bedroom in my childhood home. I’m lying on my back with my head propped up on two pillows, staring at the large TV that is mounted on the wall above the door. That’s weird, I think to myself, I never had a TV on the wall in my room. On the screen is snow; apparently I turned off the cable box the night before, but neglected to turn off the TV before I fell asleep. I am weak, and unable to move my head enough to look around, so I use my arm to feel around on the blankets for the remote, which I do not find.
A nurse appears by my bedside, wearing one of those little face masks that people wear if they’re worried about germs on the subway. She sees that the TV is still on, grabs the remote from the night stand, and turns it off. She says to me, “We thought it best to bring you here.” She moves her eyes to the side and then back toward me, in a gesture that tells me she’s referring to my old room. “You’re lucky to be alive,” she continues, placing a ring in the palm of my hand. The band is tiny and gold, and the stone is small and blue, with a five-pointed star pattern that very subtly fades to white against the blue background of the stone.
While I’m looking at the ring, she hands me a blue circular jar that is the same shade of blue as the ring, with a similar white star pattern on the surface. The jar fits in the palm of my hand. “We removed both of these items from your stomach last night,” the nurse tells me. “You seem to have ‘daddy issues.’ Would you care to explain any of this?”
I make an attempt to speak, but my lips have been frozen (but are just beginning to thaw) and there is a single strong thread tied vertically between them, so that my mouth is neither able to close nor open. I say, as best I can, trying to be deliberately vague, “I certainly don’t remember passing this. . .but then I didn’t, did I?” The nurse gives me an exasperated look, then turns and walks out of the room.
After she’s gone, I think, She doesn’t need to know about the ritual, or that I tried to castrate myself. I reach my left hand down to feel a testicle. It’s there, but frozen and thawing in the same way that my lips are. I think, Is it real or synthetic? I don’t know; can’t tell. I move my hand away and lie there for a while, until I decide to get out of bed.
I get up and hobble slowly across the hall to the bathroom. There is a large mirror on the wall behind the sink, and I look at my reflection. I’m wearing a light blue V-necked hospital shirt. My skin is pale, waxy, and withdrawn. My hair is three inches longer than normal, unwashed, and extremely disheveled. My lips are frozen and held apart by a strong surgical thread. My eyes are blue and huge, and I look as if I am haunted. I think, When did this happen to me? When did I become this person? I can’t bear to look anymore, so I turn and shuffle back into the bedroom. I put my arms against the walls to keep myself steady as I make my way to the bed, shaking with fright, waiting for the nurse to return.
* * * * *
I woke up in the same position in which I’d been lying in my dream. No idea where all that came from. This is one of the most disturbing dreams I’ve ever had.