My Family (a long time ago)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dream A Little Dream With Me

I’ve been reading a book called “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, and one of the main characters has a bad dream every night. The story is set in Germany during the rise of Adolph Hitler and the poor little girl, named Liesel, saw her brother die while on a train going to live with a foster family. They are then forced off the train at the next stop where the boy is unceremoniously buried. Liesel understandably does not want to leave her Mom, the only family she has left. Every night she dreams of her older brother dying in their mother’s arms.

I can relate to Liesel having nightmares. When I was a kid there was a time where I had a nightmare almost every night. I think part of the reason I did was because I had such a vivid imagination. The things I dreamed about sometimes were a whole lot scarier than anything that was on TV back then, and at that age I had never seen a horror movie. OK, I have to admit that up to about age 12, when Miss Gulch turned into the wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz”, I was a little freaked out. I think it was because she reminded me of someone I knew, maybe a teacher.

The main nightmare I used to have started when I was about nine years old. A man, whose face I could never see, with a black leather hat and a black leather jacket with a high collar, would come out of the closet holding a big, sharp knife in his right hand and he was coming to get me. I could tell that knife was really sharp, just by the way the little bit of light in the room twinkled on the edge of it. And even though I couldn’t see his face I knew he had an evil grin on that shadowy face. The funny thing is, I never thought that the evil man was coming after my younger brother who shared the bedroom with me. Nope, he was just after me.

It also didn’t matter if we left the closet door open or closed, I still had the same vision of the guy coming after me. If it was open, he just slowly appeared; first his shadowy face, then his leather clad arm and then that big sharp knife as he stepped out of the closet. If the door was closed, the door would slowly and almost noiselessly open, and then the guy would slowly appear as when the door was open. I did the only thing a kid could do against a closet creeper – I screamed and then I ran. In the blink of an eye, I was out of bed, out of my bedroom and up the hallway, running to safety. Usually, one of my parents caught me before I got far up the hallway.

However, there were a few times, they weren’t quick enough. As added detail, let me tell you that we had a dog back then and we put a board across the divide between the living room and the dining room to keep him in the dining room at night. On one occasion, I ran up the hallway into the living room, jumped over the board, jumped over the dog and went out the door into the back half of the garage where there was a door to the back yard. My three older brothers (the "three middle ones") had a bedroom in the front half of the garage and caught me before I went out of the house into the yard. Where I was going, I have no idea, but I’m glad they stopped me before I got out.

My poor parents had no idea what to do with me. They asked me if someone at school was picking on me (Of course not, I got along with everybody). They asked me if someone in the neighborhood was hurting me (No, nobody touched me because of my older brothers). Unless you counted my own brothers, nobody laid a hand on me or threatened me. Besides, they didn’t really hurt me, at least not enough to rat them out at this time. I think my parents really thought there was something wrong with me, that maybe I needed some professional help.

I also feel bad for my younger brother who shared the room with me. My yelling and screaming startled him out of some peaceful, happy dreams and there were a few times he even decided to run with me. One particular night probably scarred him for life. He was sound asleep, all nice and snuggly in his bed when the knife appeared out of the closet, followed by the faceless man in his leather ensemble. I started my usual nighttime routine and, woken up by my screaming, he started to follow. However, on this night his feet got caught in the blankets and he couldn’t get out. I looked back and saw him thrashing around to get loose and yelling helplessly – he was trapped! It was every boy for himself, and I was out of that room and starting up the hallway. I don’t know who was louder, me or him.

Those nightmares stopped after a while, I don’t really know how long it was, and there was a little more peace at night. Over the years I’ve had people tell me to “follow your dreams”, but in this case I just have to say, “Thanks, but no. I think I’d rather live.” Disney may be able to make your dreams come true, but I think I’d much rather leave them behind. The dreams I had as a young boy, like Liesel’s in the book, are just not worth pursuing.

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