Warnings: swearing (f-word, s-word), nightmares
< What are the times on 22 and 23 >
Three dots scroll across my screen until another text lands:
< late september i think >
Well that’s helpful. A “late september” and a Venmo deposit of $100 are all I have to interpret this clusterfuck of a dream. That reminds me - it isn’t just one dream. It’s two related dreams. The first time, M boards an airplane and kisses her best friend in the back row while the plane sweeps them away from a tornado. The second time, their class watches from the back of a quarantine-ridden helicopter.
It’s my rent this week. Unfortunately, it’s also my sister’s form of entertainment.
“Tell me what it means,” Cassie asks, googly-eyed.
“It means that she was a jellyfish in her past life and a starling in her future.” I type out a quick, dismissive response before meeting Cassie’s eye. “The dream was in late September. That means something, right?”
Cassie fixes her mouth into a downwards u. “You’re so cruel to me.”
“Don’t.” Swinging my legs off the bed, I try to intimidate her. “I’ll read your mind.”
“But it’s against the laaaaaws.”
I nod. “That’s right. The laws dictate I must do it for a flat rate of $50 per dream. I can’t help it.”
Oh, it’s a load of bullshit and then some. I’m not sweating over someone telling me that I can’t read dreams for free. I am sweating over my landlord fixing me with that one beady eye and telling me-again-that I’ve failed to pay rent.
Besides, why waste talent? I didn’t learn the magic of dream, oneiromancy, to waddle around elementary schools and listen to kids ramble about a shadow lion for hours. I became an oneiromancer because the dreams wouldn’t stop until I began to read them.
At first, the dreams were simple. A test dispensed at midnight, perhaps I wasn’t wearing clothes. I’d be taking the test and look down to see dozens of eyes on the paper. It wasn’t a nightmare that shivered down my spine, nor a vision that predated a horrific event. It was a dream, and for a while, it was as simple as that.
Unfortunately, it didn’t end there.
Cassie and I follow the L-line until we’re alone with a bald man in a tracksuit. The train spits us out near a falafel shop. After, we chase down a newspaper to wrap our falafel leftovers in.
Cassie reads me the horoscope predictions for the week while I pick pickles out of her half-eaten pita. “Aries may heal a tumultuous relationship after three stars enter the night sky. Avoid holes.”
I step over a crack. I’m not superstitious, but Cassie is. I do it for her.
“Scorpio will discover a new passion that may find them in the form of the color blue. If you see a turtle, it means you will have good luck.” She sighs. “I wish I was Aries. I only see cats. Cats everywhere. And I’m quite good at finding holes and not stepping in -- ooph!”
She looks down, her heel deep in the kaleidoscope swirl of oil. I look quickly away. Cassie may have bad luck, and I certainly don’t need a helping of it.
I don’t have much bad luck, and again, I don’t believe in it. Karma, luck, chance, all of it can be chalked up to science. Believe me, when the dreams started, I searched for answers in superstition and magic because my dreams came to life.
Like the dreams, they started out simple. I would catch a person watching me on the subway. In a public restroom, there would be an eye drawn on the stall door. Eventually, the more I tried to avoid eyes, the more they followed me. The final straw was a tube of eyeliner resting delicately on the satin-white of my bathroom counter.
I never wore eyeliner.
I did something entirely irrational. I poured all of my year’s savings into an online course on oneiromancy and scoured the violet-colored words for anything. It was all I could think about, all I could talk about. Eventually, I talked about it so frequently that I made a business out of it.
The dreams stopped after that. The eyes stopped watching.
Cassie grabs my arm and pulls me away before a motorcycle slices past, the wind on my cheek just as any assault as the impact would have been.
“Careful!” she scolds, even though that’s my line as the older sister.
I type out a response to M on my phone.
< Is it your best friend that you like or his friend >
M hasn’t read the text yet. I wait a minute or three while we walk back to the apartment. When I open my phone again, there are four new texts:
< shit >
< i think i remember him being there >
< i never noticed him before >
< is that it?? >
That’s the thing about oneiromancy; people think it’s an art. It’s a deception.
< its what I see >
Hopefully, that will stave off any suspicion for now. Believe me, if you look at anything long enough, they start to look suspicious.
After I became an oneiromancer, the dreams stopped. Eyes stopped following me, but texts didn't stopped. Frantic ones, pleading ones, angry ones.
Help, I have this new dream.
I’ll pay double for you to read this nightmare
i think im being followed
What-the-fuck-what-did-you-do-to-me kind of texts.
Cassie smiles as she holds my arm, a carefree smile that makes her look much younger. I don’t go out with her to nice events often. If you compare us side-by-side, she looks ten years my prime, when, in-fact, we were born during the same blistered year-long summer. Exhaustion has aged me.
“Chinese tonight?” I ask.
“Try Indian,” she sings. “I have a date.”
I wish she’d stay home tonight. I don’t tell her this.
“Who’s that on your phone?” Cassie asks, wiggling her eyebrows. “A client? A date.”
I turn off my phone and tell her stories about a client with bifocals who had a dream of a doppelganger of me. I turn off my phone and let her voice carry me back to the apartment. I turn off my phone and don’t look at any of the texts.
If you look at anything long enough, everything starts to look suspicious. I choose not to look at all.