We have all had all them; bad dreams that cause us to jolt up out of bed still shaking with fear. I quickly forget about most of these nightmares--sometimes as soon as I fall back asleep. In other instances, the dream is too irrational or fragmented to be of much worth. After all, who would be afraid of a small frog in their waking hours? But perhaps it is worthwhile to recount some of my most memorable nightmares; you might learn more about me from these stories than you would from an entire autobiography. More importantly, I think that we come to understand each other when we recount stories that derive from our subconscious/semiconscious selves. For deep down, we are all human beings--with the same instinctual ability to love, to laugh, to cry, and to feel other emotions containing elements, which are unique to our species. I think that our nightmares, as well as our dreams, help us to understand these aspects of our humanness.
These nightmares may also serve to entertain, to humor, or even to scare people (though I doubt the latter) and there may be some value in that fact as well. :-) At the same time, my recollection of these things may bore everyone to death (pun intended). So, I'll test out the market. I will posit one story/recollection. If you like it and want to hear about the other nightmares, leave a positive comment. :-) If no one comments, I will assume that it's not beneficial to continue...
The Ghost of the Old Sailor
I lived in an old, Victorian style mansion (5300 sq. feet or so) from the time I was born until the end of my 2nd Grade year. Now, before anyone goes ah and ooh, it's probably worth noting that the house was situated in one of the worst areas of town. My grandfather had purchased the mansion during the Depression (he amazingly paid for it in silver dollars and silver certificates) when the neighborhood was still rather upscale. Things had changed by the time I was born.
The house and staircases were made of hardwood, which seemed to always creek and groan. Combine this noise with the house's size, the antique furniture in my room, and the fact that the residence was always drafty, and you can imagine how scary it would be for a child of four or five (or even of six and seven). Every night the same ritual occurred. My parents would force me to turn off the lights in my room, and I would become scared. I would sometimes lay in my bed with the covers over my head until I fell asleep. At other times, I would try to sneak into my parents' room, but that didn't work out all that well. The creaking of a floorboard would usually give me away. Heck, my parents should have bought me a nightlight--but noooo... ;-)
Anyway, this first nightmare, like most dreams, contains some contradictory elements. Alas, that is the case with most of my dreams. My subconscious mind just can't get all the details right (wrong time period, etc.). This is the earliest nightmare that I can still remember; it occurred when I was around 5 years old.
I dreamed that I worked for a newspaper and had entered an old, two story house with a female reporter in tow to interview the widow of a famous pirate. I can no longer recall the face of the female reporter [I was only 5 at the time] nor the interior of the house with any clarity. The elderly woman had white hair and a large frame. I had the impression that she was describing the life of her late husband, the pirate, but few details remain (if my mind had ever bothered to create those narrative elements), though my dream mind did see a (recreated) flashback as she was speaking of her husband's dying moments in a hospital, no less (haha--see, the 5 year old dream mind wasn't that sophisticated yet). And of course, her deceased hubby had a peg leg [what else did you expect ;-)]. At the end of her story, she told us that her husband still haunts the house, blah blah, and lo and behold, we hear footsteps upstairs. The footsteps kept getting closer as the ghost started to walk down the upstairs hall and down the stairs. My dreamself was rooted in place by fear...And that is when I sat straight up in bed.
Unluckily for me, my conscious mind rarely takes over fully immediately upon waking up. Usually, I can see everything around me clearly but some dream elements remain. In this case, I could just make out the dim outlines of my cedar closet and kiddie rocking chair (red velvet covered rocking chair) via the faint moonlight coming in from the cracks in the window shade. I also espied the peg-legged pirate standing next to my rocking chair. He started walking towards my bed and only disappeared when he reached the foot of my bed (about five steps). As you can imagine, I immediately got out of bed and started to sneak into my parents' room.
This nightmare has something in common with all of the ones that stick in my memory. It has some component that links it to my waking world. In this case, some of the dream elements didn't immediately disappear when I opened my eyes. With the Thanksgiving Day nightmare (see my "11 Things" post), I received a stuffed clown that resembled the characters in that bad dream.
The next nightmare is unique (for me) in that it didn't have any imagery attached; it is the only dream of any sort that was... (to be continued?).
Clip Art courtesy of Microsoft (and Istockphoto).