Falling Toward Terra Firma

Dreams begin in the middle. I was trying to get down–from a building, a familiar place at first. I moved along the hallways that became less and less familiar. I tried anonymous doors at random. Each door lead farther towards the edge of something, a place where the structure of the building gave way towards chaos.

Soon walls were no longer and I was in the open skeleton of a thing, walking on its bones. And as I moved along towards a destination I did not know but was driven to find quickly lest the oxygen disappear from the very air, the floor that had supported my feet without question or doubt became squares of something thin like plywood, solid at first and close together on the same plane.

But as I moved along with some great need to get down on firm earth many stories below, the steps spread apart, became flexible, unstable and placed cruelly at angles, then so far apart and staggered that my stride or strength were failing me with every passing eternity. I imagined the way the rush of air would feel as I fell.

Tiny objects below took up more and more of my vision; the terror of each step grew with the possibility it would be my last. I was in a place where I knew I could not go back, but I held no hope of going forward.

Holding on to a jungle of hanging ropes and cables, as I inched my way along they mutated in my hand into shirts that dangled their long arms in front of me, tube sox long as boas, thin bright scarves–they hung like vines tethered to nothing, taunting the lost to clutch them for dear life. It was a treachery I could not accept. But I’d rather jump than fall. I considered that.

And some features here are missing from the dreamscape. And then at the end, I found my way to safety to my great astonishment by climbing up something like a lamp post that slumped limply into my abyss; I lived after all not by going down the way I was at first compelled to go but by climbing out.

I awoke drenched with sweat, my mouth so dry I could not swallow. That was half an hour ago. And yes, I have an idea where this dreamscape came from.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Wow, I just posted on a dream yesterday but yours is by far the more action-packed.

    Oh and I do so agree with your final sentence. Our dreams reflect our reality metaphorically and can indicate the grip of either stress or anticipation of an event or situation. Unfortunately, no real answers are provided and we still have to figure that part out ourselves.

  2. Much like some vivid hallucinations I underwent a year ago April while hospitalized, except I was seated in a wooden chair high up in the air with nothingness for miles beneath me.

    People walked by me, yet I could not leave the chair for fear of falling.

    The walls wore splashes of bright teal and fuchsia; I recall thinking it was so clever of the Roanoke hospital to make their interior walls do that.