Alex Teach Image
I had a nightmare that wasn't scary...just empty. Void.
That was the nightmare.
I looked into the eyes of a picture beside my bed and saw through them for thousands, millions, billions of miles, and I saw nothing. Darkness, but not dark; it was nothing. Empty. It was cool, with a hint of breeze but no sound, and were there a sound I knew there'd be no echo, just...emptiness.
Not a nightmare—but not a dream.
The light is out in those eyes, and neither of us can see anymore. Or perhaps we never could?
I hate dreams. But those eyes in the picture were so very bright in life. I don't understand the darkness now.
High beams on a highway cresting a hill that never ends, never able to meet a surface upon which they could reflect back to make sense for your eyes. Your brain reels, waiting on input that never comes, and the frustration translates into adrenalin that has nowhere to flow. Your body attempts to shake, to jerk with the bustling energy, but it cannot, because there is no body, there is no adrenalin, no veins. You are simply not…there.
I look up into a sky that doesn’t exist from a ground I cannot feel. I would drift, but there is no point from which to do so, no tether to reality from which to make any such distinction.
Is this all there is? Is this what I have to look forward to, where I came from, or where I shall be?
It is horrible, to be nothing. To be Void.
The torture, perhaps, is based in memories—of light, warmth, earth, moisture—of scenery, of places—of the passage of time itself. For in the dream it, too, is gone, paused, with not so much as a freeze-frame to look at, only a dead screen in a dead world where there is neither hope of repair nor the use for such.
I pray for the sound of footsteps, for the sound of rustling leaves, for the crunching of dirt under the footsteps of the owner of those eyes in the picture, for the sound of a smile on the lips of my focus, because everything makes a sound after all, however slight. The stretching of skin, the bending of capillaries, the rerouting of blood for both…something can hear it. I feel certain I could now, because in dreams, ears are but a bow on a package, frosting on a cake, an accessory, a novelty.
But there is no delivery here, no party, no recipient; just the consciousness of one man in a sea of nothingness, greeted by not so much as the creaking of metal from the hold of a ship, or the crashing of waves onto distant sand or rocks, or wind striking trees or stones or land—only the sound of nothing, where something once existed in abundance.
I close eyes that don’t exist with sound that isn’t there and try to shut it out…but the gesture is moot.
…And eventually I awake, holding a wristwatch in my sweaty right hand.
A Seiko kinetic, stainless steel with gold attributes, its second hand motionless because its owner does not exist to wind it, the calendar beyond out of date for the same reason. The metal is cool, and the flexion of the metal links brings comfort as they conform around the rigor my fingers have become, pressing them as if they wish for the metal to become my flesh, to become one as my thumb and forefinger work to push them into my skin over and over.
And despite the darkness of the hour, light floods into my eyes from all directions from tiny sources. Alarm clocks, charging cell phones, appliance clocks—anything is more in comparison to the void I just experienced, and as my thoughts come back to me, I realize what I’m holding: my father’s watch.
I glance at the framed picture next to me and reach out to face it down to shut this nightmare (dream) off, but I get as far as grasping it when instead of flipping it down, I find my thumb running circles around the face of the picture, unable to let go, and I know then that sleep shall not be an option again for several hours (days?).
I’ve seen so much death, and done so much to avoid it…but to see my father again? It can’t be soon enough, Old Man. I’ve got work to do still, but keep the coffee hot for me until I can see you once more. Parts of me won’t smile until I do.
That’s what it is to be a son. The shadow cast is long and one you want to bask in, in this life and the next. But time gets in the way. Here’s to the spaces in between.
…And dealing with that void until then.