This piece is a continuation of The Astrologist. You can read that piece at the link!
I couldn’t help but arrive early.
I sat on the bench across the street from the town home that the address has sent me too. It was nicer than I had expected it to be – and I expected a lot from the red brick home. The windows were bigger than any of the one’s at The Two Lantern Inn. The time read 2:40 PM on my watch and regret filled my mind. What if he isn’t helpful at all? What if he thinks these dreams are crazy? I mean, to me he seems pretty crazy, so he better not think some silly nightmare is even more crazy.
Why was I so worried? So what if he thought I was crazy? I hadn’t cared what he thought of me before that moment – I shouldn’t be so concerned with how he feels about me after I tell him about the dream. So what if he couldn’t help me?
Well, I would be out of options if that were the case. Who else could I tell?
Would Evon even be ready if I walked up and knocked on the door?
I found my feet leading me to the crosswalk and I felt my stomach drop.
The front door was solid wood. I didn’t know what kind, but it was the kind that screamed ‘if you try and kick me in you’re going to break your ankle’. At least, that’s how I would describe it. Not to mention in the corner of the thin strips of glass was a ADT sticker. So, if you did attempt to break in, you’d break not only your ankle but you would get cuffed. Not a fun combo.
With a chime of the doorbell I felt the need to sprint down the road and forget that this ever actually happened. I could avoid Evon – never go to Newbury Street again and just buy myself ice cream at CVS like all of the other broke college students. I could still get Ben & Jerry’s there at least.
The door opened just as I was about to turn around. But it wasn’t Evon at the door. It was a girl – with beautiful black hair braided back. I wish that I went to sleep away camp with her. We had different hairtypes, but damn. I noticed her bright blue eyes second and how it contrasted her black skin.
“Yeah? Can I help you?” she asked, blowing a bubble of pink gum.
Star struck, it took me a moment to respond. “Is Evon home?”
The bubble popped. “Oh, you’re the girl meeting up with him?” She stepped aside and opened the door wider. “I’m his sister. I’m Emilia.”
The inside of the house was more impressive than the outside – I barely listened as I stepped inside. “Hayden.”
“He’s upstairs. You’ll know which room is his – trust me.” Emilia popped another bubble, and with that she was gone. I wish I had dreams that looked like her.
I followed the slim black carpet up the iron railed stairs, feeling incredibly out of place. But, Emilia was right. I could only guess that Evon’s room was the door covered with a map of constellations. It looked hand-painted and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.
I knocked on the door. There were footsteps and the sound of papers sliding across the floor. I blinked, but waited. Evon opened the door a few moments after and said “Oh, hey. Emilia let you in? Sorry, I was distracted.”
“It’s fine. I didn’t know you had a sister, anyways.” I replied, glancing around his room over his shoulder.
“Yeah, I do. She’s like 5 years younger though. Come on in.”
Every ounce of attraction I had for her fled my body as I stepped into the room. 5 years? No way.
I knew Evon was eccentric – yet his room still shocked me. There were posters on the wall of artists I had never heard of, large prints from photographers with names that sounded like I was talking with food in my mouth. The walls were navy and white with gray curtains hung along the windows in the back of the room. The rug was black and gray and spanned across a majority of the sleek wooden floors. He had hand painted bookshelves lining the wall across from his bed filled head to toe with books of different sizes. The smallest shelf was empty, books littered across the floor in front of it. He had a hanging chair across the room that was shaped like a bamboo egg.
Evon must’ve noticed my staring, because over my shoulder he said “You can sit in it if you want. It’s super comfy.”
I pulled off my sweatshirt and walked over to the chair, plopping down in it and feeling the chair sway with my weight. There were shoes scattered across the floor next to his bed and I couldn’t tell if they had pairs or if he just wore whatever two shoes he wanted.
Evon kicked the shoes under the bed and sat down. “So, I’ve been doing a little research on dream interpretation. I have a bunch of books.” He pointed towards a broken bookshelf, where books laid scattered on the floor.
“I take it a ‘bunch of books’ broke that shelf.” I smirked.
“Yeah… Mom wants me to donate some of my collection. She says I ‘have too many books.’ I don’t agree.”
“I’ve never seen someone with a personal collection that big.” I gestured to the wall filled with books as if he couldn’t see it himself.
“You’re not hanging out with the right people then,” Evon laughed. He stood up from the bed and picked up the books from the floor. He dropped them onto the bed and spread them out in front of him. “I have some books about common dreams and their meanings, and books about symbols in dreams.” Looking at me, he asked “I think it would be helpful if you shared with me the dream, and then I’ll be able to tell you more. Maybe one of these books will be more helpful than the others.”
It only then occured to me that I would have to tell him about the dream. I would have to tell him about my mother. I felt a lump in my throat that I had tried to swallow down. “Right. The dream…”
Evon sat down criss cross on his bed in front of the books. “You don’t have to tell me the whole thing, just the parts you’re comfortable with.” He hesitated, “But, I think telling me the whole thing will be more helpful. The margin of error is much smaller.”
“Okay,” I sighed. “I have one request.”
“You can’t tell anyone what I tell you.”
He raised an eyebrow, but said after a moment “I won’t tell anyone, Hayden.”
It felt strange hearing him say my name. It shouldn’t of been surprising, but I couldn’t remember a time where he had actually said it before this moment.
“Alright.” I took a breath, shut my eyes, and let my branded memories do the talking.
How did it feel?
The garden is dead. All around my feet lie the wilted pumpkin vines, and their decaying bodies not far behind. The squash planter is over grown with weeds and the only way I know it’s squash is that the label is torn just above the name.
I step over the vines and walk towards the gray gate across from me. I don’t know how I got here but I don’t want to be there. I feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. I don’t belong in the garden. I’m trespassing.
The gate is cold as my hand rests on the top – the metal is rusting but I don’t mind. When the gate swings open, before me I see a path curving through an oak forest. It is worn down to dirt, but the lines are sharp. There are no weeds at the edge of the path. As I begin to walk through the path, I hear the gate creak closed behind me. There is no wind.
The path feels endless. I feel trapped in the forest – there is no way to know where I’m headed, and I don’t know where I came from. I am wandering blindly. The fear of trespassing still lingers in my mind.
I hear a rustling beside me. When I turn, sitting before me is a brown rat. As my eyes set on its – it turns and runs back into the bushes. It’s tail is nearly three times the length of it’s body and I cannot help but watch as it slithers into the bush behind it.
Back on the path, I hear the sound of children laughing. I can’t tell how many there are, but I know I do not want to disturb them. Maybe it isn’t actually children, but perhaps a predator calling for its prey.
Perhaps that is me.
The laughter gets closer. Without a second thought, I continue towards the sound. The trees break, and before me is a city. The feeling of oak trees towering around me is replaced with steel skyscrapers. This is more familiar, yet I still don’t know where I am.
I walk underneath the street lamps in search of the laughing children. I hope that’s what it is, anyways.
It doesn’t take long to come across a small fenced in park. There is a small jungle gym and a swing set. Sitting on the ground between are 4 children – a girl and three boys. They don’t have faces. I don’t know where the laughter is coming from – but it’s coming from them.
As I watch them, the children play a game. Their hands are intertwined with one another. The girl, stationed at the end of the chain, takes a step and skips towards the boy, who turns behind the other two and follows a similar action. The children do this until they’re all skipping and sliding in a whirlpool. The last boy chases the girl. To catch the other, a hand must be placed in between their shoulder blades. I watch as the girl catches the boy in front of her and the boy before him. The last boy is the only prey left. He moves swiftly in a circle, trying to get behind the girl. She laughs, an echo that stays in my mind long after the dream is over. The girl places her hand on his back – she has won.
That’s when they turn to look at me. They see me watching their game. The girl walks over to me and holds out her hand as an invitation. I make the same mistake each time I dream – I take her hand.
They invite me to join their game. Now, I stand at the other end of the line. The game starts over, and I find myself skipping and sliding at the center. Almost like clockwork, the girl and I are the last two. She seems to set the rules, and always wins. I don’t want to lose.
I try to keep her in the corner of my eye, but she’s sneaky. I feel her presence behind me. I turn to face her, and her hand lands at the center of my chest.
That’s when a blood curdling scream fills the streets. It comes from my lungs, as I feel a coolness spread across my body. The girl does not move, and she does not take her hand off of my chest. She watches me with her eyeless gaze.
I feel my fingers lock in place as the bitter chill reaches my extremities. I do not break my gaze from her as the cold trails up my spine and covers my eyes. I wasn’t told one of the rules of the game.
Never turn around.
In the darkness, I hear a voice. “You don’t belong,” she says, and I feel a finger run through my hair at my neck, “You don’t belong here. Come home.”
“I don’t know where home is,” I tell her. “Home is gone.”
“Why?” Her voice is familiar.
“Home left me.” I feel my throat tighten – a hand gripping the back of my neck.
“Come home,” the voice repeats to me.
“Where is home?” I ask as the grip gets tighter.
“Find the pathway home,” she says, and I feel her hand release my neck.
I gasp for air.
She grips my shoulder and snaps my neck.
I wake up.
I opened my eyes and sat up a bit, hugging my knees up to my chest. Leaving out the detail of the woman’s voice being my mothers didn’t seem important. I figured telling him that it was familiar was enough.
“How often have you had this dream, Hayden?” Evon asked after a few moments of silence.
“This one specifically happens… probably three times a week.” I rubbed the back of my neck, feeling a lingering pain at the base.
“Do you dream every night?”
“Yes. But I have a few other dreams… sometimes they are random. You know, like a normal person,” I laughed at my attempt to joke.
Evon looked at me for a few moments, “We have a lot to unpack in that dream…”
“You think?” I leaned back against the cushion and gave myself enough momentum to swing slightly.
He stood up and turned to his books, picking and choosing out of the pile. He put some back on the floor and was left eventually with two books on his bed.
“These are going to be the most helpful,” Evon said, “I hope at least.”
I peaked out of my chair and saw one of the titles: 12,000 Dreams Interpreted.
Evon sat down on the floor and leaned against his bed, opening up that book and said “This may take awhile. I may need you to repeat some parts.”
I nodded and fiddled with the string on my hoodie. I tried to get comfortable, knowing I would be there longer than I ever intended to be.