© 2016 City of Broken Dreams
I’ve only held her on one occasion. It was a long time ago. But not so long ago that I can’t remember what she felt like. I held her from behind: the front of my body pressed tightly up against the back of hers; one hand wrapped firmly around her throat, while the other hand wandered and roamed south of her waistline, eager to get lost in her deep, dark depths. She is a petite, slender little thing, but hidden beneath the PVC catsuit that she wore and her tattooed flesh, all I could feel was solid muscle tensing beneath my roving, groping hands. I remember thinking that holding her was like holding onto a goddamn python.
But if this is a dream, then there is nothing stopping me from holding her once more. All I have to do is simply step closer to her, walk up behind her, and—
“Catch me if you can,” she says, giving me a quick backwards glance. And then she’s off like a shot—like a bullet fired from the barrel of a gun.
So now I get to witness the memory of her taut, compact musculature rendered into glorious real time—as she runs from me, as she sprints down the dirt-and-gravel path that leads to the colossal wind turbine that stands like a forgotten god amongst the gilded wheat field that has become the setting for our little game of psychic cat and mouse.
And so I give chase. But she no longer brings to mind the likeness of a python; she is now a jungle cat: a sleek black panther running through the dark, dank rain forest that inhabits the forgotten abyss of my absent heart. As she runs, her raven black bob bounces around her bare shoulders, and just like magic, my eyes are suddenly and temporarily deceived into seeing a large black crow in mid-flight. Reptile. Feline. Avian. What kind of unholy ghost do I dare dream of?
A raven-haired ghost, who despite wearing a tight, black mini dress and combat boots, can still run like the motherfucking wind, evidently. She dexterously lopes down the relatively short path toward the base of the turbine like she is trying to outrun the Devil himself. However, in this instance, I reckon that she may have more in common with the Devil than I ever will.
Within moments she is already bounding up the short flight of stairs that lead up to the raised metal platform that is connected to the cylindrical, sentry-like structure. And once she reaches the top, the raven-haired ghost whom I so desperately pursue, once again performs an act of black magic right in front of my very eyes: she seemingly disappears into thin air—just as ghosts are wont to do.
When I finally reach the spot where she ostensibly vanished, I am somewhat relieved to discover that there is a maintenance access door set into the side of the turbine. However, any thought that the existence of the door can rationally explain her sudden disappearance is quickly quashed as I soon discover that the door is not only locked, but also appears to be welded shut by the passage of time and layer upon layer of fossilized rust. Thus, I must begrudgingly accept the preternatural realization that I have actually lost her—that the raven-haired ghost has eluded me, once again.
And so I stand on the edge of a deep golden sea, the spectral soundscape of the surrounding landscape washing over me like an invisible wave coming off an ocean made from distant memory: a light wind rustling the golden stalks of wheat that envelop me; the giant blade of the wind turbine slicing the air above, creating a sound that is vaguely reminiscent of the engine of an ancient alien spacecraft; the sonorous rumble of distant thunder coming somewhere from the west; the grating caw of a large black crow flying overhead …
The crow that soars in the sky high above—it has to be her. And so the raven-haired ghost that has haunted my dreams for the last one hundred sleeps didn’t perform a vanishing act, after all; it was an act of transmogrification—a metamorphosis from ghost to bird.
Not surprisingly, the notion of having not lost the raven-haired ghost sends an immediate rush of relief through my frayed and fevered mind. But then I notice the direction in which the crow travels: due north—and immediately, my previous sense of relief is quickly snuffed out by a flood of disappointment, fear, and revulsion. For despite the fact that the northward lands are as vast as the night is black, there is no doubt in my dark, haunted mind as to where the crow flies.
The crow flies to the one place where I least long to be. In fact, it is the very place that I’ve most recently been trying to flee, the one place that I’ve spent an entire lifetime trying to escape. As I watch the raven-haired ghost turned black-feathered bird float effortlessly across the increasingly darkening sky, becoming smaller and smaller as she moves further and further north, I steel myself for the coming of the inevitable storm and for the melancholy revelation that the crow is headed back towards the City of Broken Dreams.
The nature of the dream dictates that I will have to follow her back to wherever she goes.
I really don’t want to have to go back.