I have't been sleeping. Not at all actually. It started about two weeks ago. The weather turned, work was tumultuous, I couldn't keep anything in, and life just seemed unsteady. I would lay down at night, dead to the world and would only let sleep keep me oblivious for an hour or so. Then I would be awake enough to know I wasn't sleeping but not enough to get out of bed. I would get up with my alarm clock and feel as if I had never closed my eyes.
I would make it through the day and try again the next night, but before I knew it I would hear the alarm and the trudging would start again... and again and again...that was until the night of the beeping.
It was 10:30 pm and a fleet of tow trucks came to the apartment complex to tow cars that were parked in covered parking and not supposed to be there. There were maybe three tow trucks, but when they are all backing up at the same time, the warning beeping sounds more like fifty trucks. It caused the whole place to walk outside and see what was going on. Then there was the usual yelling, the attempts to drive cars away before it was too late... and then it was over. And peaceful. Even the cicadas were quiet.
So I rolled back over, closed my eyes and worked on sleeping. Before I knew it, my blanket, Big Blue had wrapped itself around me and peacefully lulled me into the land of dreams.
... I opened my eyes and knew immediately i was in Portugal. I was on a barge floating down the river, making my long awaited return. I passed slowly by the neighborhoods full of flowers cascading from balconies. Restaurants full of people sitting outside under brightly colored umbrellas. People meandering down the cobblestone streets, children playing in parks, and castles bathed in sunlight. My Lisbon. The salt water cleared my lungs and caused my hair to curl. The sunshine warmed me to my soul. I could feel the vitamin D being released into my blood, and the fist that had been around my stomach relaxed and let go altogether.
We rode in peace as we approached a bridge that had stood strong for years. It wasn't particularly big. I could reach up and touch it as we passed under. It was made of golden rocks held together by ages old mortar. It was glowing yellow in the sunshine and it let me trace each grove between the rocks as we passed.
Past the bridge was a woman standing in the middle of the dock. She was waiting for us, her long brown hair was swept back into a loose ponytail. She stood tall and strong, yet like the bridge glowed, from the inside and out. She waited patiently for us to come. We drifted towards the dock slowly, watching the women wait, the gentle breeze played with her hair and caressed her cheek.
Before I knew it we were pulling up to the dock, the woman had turned her back on us and as we bumped to a stop on the dock she turned around and in an instant transformed. Her hair turned wispy, her clothes tattered and her skin puckered and sour, as if her whole body had been burned. She screamed and screamed and screamed.
The crewman turned the boat around and fled as fast as they could, but the screams kept growing louder, and then I realized that they were coming out of my own mouth and that my own hands were that of the woman's on the dock. And my face was not smooth but rough and pitted. The sun burned my tender skin and the salt water added insult to injury. And I screamed in terror. I screamed because they were leaving me behind, I screamed because this wasn't my Lisbon....
I startled awake. The sweat was pouring down my skin. Big Blue was wrapped so tight I couldn't get loose, and I'm sure the neighbors were wondering why someone was screaming bloody murder in the middle of the night.
I rolled over unwilling to risk the chance of sleep for fear of returning to the dream, got untangled from Blue and wondered how i'd make it through the next four hours until my alarm clock rescued me.