Silk and Torch Fire: What Happens When I Sleep

I have memories that do not belong to me and they come in dreams. They rush forward like waves on a beach, drowning the hell out of me, washing me down with bright images where I feel and see and hear and taste. It’s so real. It’s too real.
And he’s there.

Some nights, I’m a woman in a silk dress. I am some fetish girl in a brothel. The brothel sits in a strange village in the middle of a forest. The silk is always ivory. In life, I would never wear ivory, I could never pull that color off. But here….in this brothel, I am a woman with long, thick dark hair and skin that demands ivory silk. Soldiers come. They make bets about what I can do. I help some win, I help some lose. But mostly, I dance. And always I wait for him.

Now….I don’t know who “he” is. I never see a face. I see the skin, the side of his neck and gaze at where his hair line ends…just there….where it would tingle if I were to bite him. He has fine dark hair, a one dimensional chocolate brown. He is tall. His hands are larger than mine, but in life, everyone’s hands are larger than mine. He never asks to see what I can do. He never places bets. He dances with me. I know I am held close, and I know when I wake up, I can almost still feel the imprint of his hand on the small of my back. I can still feel the sweep of his thumb, caressing there, back and forth…back and forth.

He’s going to take me away from here. This soldier who dances. It always seems that just as we’re alone in my room, he’s called away. But this woman I am….she holds tight to the idea that it will be over soon. Sometimes I have dreams where I’m purchased and I’m doing terrible things while men look on. I open my eyes to the dawn and my thighs are sore, my breasts ache. I am dirty and tired even though I’ve been asleep for eight whole hours. I hate those dreams….I dread those memories!

Sometimes these memories take me through a series of moments, in order, as they want me to relive them, to remember what happened. And then I never dream them again. My days in the brothel ended when the village was attacked. I ran with a sister through the woods. Into a long cabin like house that I now think might have been a covered bridge, only walled up on both sides, with doors. How strange. I don’t know why I knew that on the other side of the bridge were armed invaders, but I did. However, the idea didn’t hit me until just before we got to the door on the other side. I wasn’t able to stop her before she flung open that wooden door. I couldn’t save her. I just remember that I lunged into the corner of the bridge, wood splinters tearing at my dress, and I watched with my hands over my ears as she was shot to death. I woke up curled in a ball, my hands awkwardly covering my head. I never dreamed of the brothel again. And he never came back for me.

Now…new memories flood me. They carry me far away, to a throne made of branches and my magenta hair in a million braids. My skin is oiled, and it’s as if I’ve been infused with gold when I look down to see my hands. And he is there again, only he is my army general and I am his queen. Invasion again? Fine. This time, this woman fears no outsiders, even if the outsiders come in legions. This dream is dark, and there are torches. They are coming. I eye my general, but still, a face is not clear. I know the eyes are like almonds but I cant see what color. I know the hair is dark and long, and I can see the skin is tanned. I think there may be a full mouth, and for some reason, I know what that mouth tastes like. But its not enough to recognize him, though recognize him I do. They are coming. I have to save my people. I have to hide them. An abandoned village a few miles away, barricaded by a great wooden door, is my only option. They say it is haunted, the village is cursed, the people all dead. It will be the perfect place to go, no one will suspect that we’re hiding there. No one would go there! So I lead them all there. We pull the great door open, we find the dusty places within. I lay a child in a manager, while people settle in all around me, fearing shadows and demons and ghosts. But there is nothing here. A queen is above superstitions. A hundred men push the door closed. We are here. Safe for…how long? Who knows. My general eyes me, and I can smell the herbs in his hair, torch light gleams off our skin. This dream came once, and perhaps one night, another will come with my oiled skin and wooden throne.

And last night….god! Last night. Silk was back again, only this time, it was cream. I was dark haired and pale again and high up on a hill overlooking a country side dotted with marsh. There were people, a party, a cottage like house with crisscross panes and vines twisting over bowers. I had bonnet and one thick braid. Two men, one Latin man with a dark coat, who I wanted to get away from. The other…him. Still the same coloring, longish dark hair pulled back, billowing shirt. I couldn’t get away from the Latin son-of-a-bitch to get one single moment with HIM! I got angry. Ashamed….or what was it?…..I made to leave. I stood at the top o the path, the wind striking me across the face with the back of its hand and pulling at the hair in the braid and I wanted…desperately wanted him to come out and stop me. But he didn’t. So I left. Went down and down the winding path, he came running out to find me but it was too late. I fell into the marsh and ruined my dress. I woke frustrated and rejected.

I don’t know why I dream this way!! Well, actually, I think I do know why, but I’m afraid to admit it. It sounds crazy to think I truly have been these people. And what of this man I see in all these different memories? Something in me knows he is the same one over and over, and I have to wonder, have I met him again in this life? Will there be a me centuries from now who dreams of this life I live now? I cant help but think he has not come yet. The romantic in me wants to believe that when I do see him, I’ll know it as I know my own blood, my own handwriting perhaps. It will hit me like a thousand waves, washing me down with realization and connection and….whatever else might be there that I feel too silly to say. God, I feel too silly to even want it!

I gamble nightly that I might sink into this comforting feeling that I’ll see him again. His outline, a streak of skin, flash of hair, and this sensation that I am being held in someone’s arms at night, I am suspended in a caress. And the moments I get to live in a body that is not mine, feeling a breeze that died thousands of years ago, but yet it is me. It is so very much all me. When it doesn’t happen….when familiar faces pop into the scene, when it’s something as ridiculous and mundane as being naked in a market, or in a plane that is crashing, or trying to run while blind. I am heartbroken. Left to analyze the birds and falling sensations like everyone else. “Oh, you must be thinking about work”, or “Oh this dream means you’re walking through a new door to opportunity.” Even the pummeling orgasms, making love to someone I know from work who I would never dream of touching….orgasms that always, always, always seem more intense that anything I could even give myself! Are not enough. They are nothing, they are not the memories. They are not the possibility of living before I was alive. They are not the evidence of maybe-magic.

And he is nowhere to be found.
But still…I gamble nightly….

Silk and Torch Fire: What Happens When I Sleep


Joined August 2008

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Artist's Description

I dream therefore I am.

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