“Ma’am, what you’re doing is illegal. It’s arson.”
At once it became clear that we, my husband and I, had done something wrong.
All activity in my mind stopped as I looked at the flames starting to lick at the second story of our home. This was the place we had watched being built, the one we raised our children in, whose walls contained the whispers of every memory we had ever made as a family. It was our landing place, witness of milestones yet recent frustrations as every inch needed attention, from walls patched and painted, lighting fixtures, cabinets and countertops replaced, to leaks located and cracks repaired.
We just wanted to build another house, I had explained to the police officer. We aren’t running away – we’re going to build a new one, right here. The cop looked at us like we were crazy.
Burning our house down to start fresh seemed like the best option for us, but now, police car lights flashed behind us and neighbors peered out their windows to gape at our biggest mistake to date. All justifications and reasoning for what we did dried up and blew away like smoke. My stomach sank into the deepest part of me as reality dawned.
We, my husband and I, committed an irrevocable crime. Our life together, the one that we had built and nurtured and stumbled through to this point, was gone. The future was struggle, brokenness, shame for what we did. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.
It hit me that we had overlooked emptying the house of valuable possessions like photos and electronics and jewelry, as well as the everyday stuff of life: kitchen utensils and bath towels and the clothes that we wore every day. Relief slowly washed over me that we were caught, that this could be stopped; maybe if the fire department gets here in time the children will be able to salvage something to hang onto except memories…
“You both have to come with me, now. Let’s go.”
* * *
My eyes snapped open, welcomed by the hum of air conditioning and the darkness of three a.m. lit only by the moon. It was just a dream, I said to myself. A nightmare, my body confirmed, by the heaviness of my limbs and the deep pit in which my stomach still resided.
It had been a long time since I had a nightmare. Why now, why this one? When am I going to be too old for bad dreams?
There’s no doubt that I am imperfect, have burned a bridge or two in my lifetime. But a whole house? Our whole life, up in flames? Years of perusing my mom’s old dream book as a kid still held onto my psyche.
I had this dream recently, just three weeks ago. It was as clear as if it actually happened. It still gives me chills to remember. Likely it will stay with me as so many other dreams – bad and good – have.
What does it mean?
This post inspired by:
Prompt #5: Share a memorable dream.