by Susan Monday & Mary Anthony
The thoughts by faith, then willingness, design the elemental dreams.
The air, breathless to breath, its grace, forms previous inclination to present.
The water, moonlight lit, motion in balance, purifying souls, a new choice.
The earth, trembles with passion, an earthquake, a heart, pressure relieved.
The fire, burns the past, old disunited habits and fears depart.
The ether, birth of opportunity, renewed trust, undaunted hope and emerging love.
The thoughts by faith, then willingness, breath to breathless,
Dreams the Sweet Dream.
A piercing screech filled the open expanse of gray sky. Worse, the terrifying sound escaped from her own wide, gaping beak!
Urgency to flee drove Katherine on through the airy mass, grainy and thick with texture. Fatigued wings beat against the resistance; her fear added another layer to the overwhelming desire to getaway.
The obscure mask was after her again. The cold lifeless shell advanced, floating in a dark mist that chilled her to the core. Could she escape its consuming, magnetic pull? She knew only one truth—she must never be caught.
There would be no second chance.
Straining upward with powerful strokes, Katherine willed her winged body to escape. Feathers ruffled as the pressure pulled at her joints with each full extension. The desire to hold the upward draft of the wind’s current increased. Gasping as pain radiated throughout every taut muscle, she knew she had to avoid the monstrous mask suspended by some invisible power,never retreating but constantly threatening.
Unholy beams from the hollow eyes and mouth were a spotlight, outlining her winged body as she fought to break away from its devouring obsession. Another screech penetrated the air. The sound echoed as if the fog was a solid surface that bounced the amplified shrill back from every direction. It was getting closer as stronger white beams, intolerably bright, shot out of its facial orifices illuminating the gold and turquoise layers that clarified its odd shape.
Wake up! She yelled to herself trying to break the dream’s hypnotic spell. It was almost over. She made it through the screeching echo, which always heralded the end.
Katherine O’Ryan felt the rise and fall of her chest with the rapid increase of panicked breath. She fought to regain consciousness still connected to the altered state while she felt her body jerk and thrash on the mattress. Glazed with dark murmurs of horror still lingering, the room gradually came into focus.
She was safe again. Survival through the night was becoming a monumental ordeal.
“Be still.” She whispered the affirmation. “Be still.” The quiet repetition to help get her bearings seemed dismally pathetic and passive, yet it was the only thing that seemed to work. She felt so helpless—a victim of an etheric predator that she made up in her own stupid, weak mind. Fists clenched with frustration, her nails making half-moon crescents in each palm, “Why can’t I have more control over my dreams?”
The nightmares were getting worse. The mask kept getting closer each time. She didn’t want to tell her grandmother that the dreams had continued for so long. After telling her about them when they first started, she hadn’t talked about it again with her since. There would be too many questions, too many answers, and way too much advice. A muffled sob was caught and stopped. Katherine wanted to handle the situation herself without her grandmother’s barrage of mumbo jumbo psychic gibberish.
She was twenty-three years old for heaven’s sake and shouldn’t be having these repeating nightmares. Katherine’s shaking hand brushed aside a handful of long black hair that was tangled in a sweaty mess across her face, then pulled it over one shoulder.
Her fingers trembled as she combed through the dark strands bringing it into some semblance of order. The simple act had a calming effect. The sticky residue left over from the nightmare was like a virus eating her alive.
Out of nowhere it appeared about a year ago, and was now her constant and dreary companion. Why was she always a bird, and why did the mask have to chase her around? No. That wasn’t exactly true. It started out as an eerie light, and then it metamorphosed into a mask over time. It seemed to be getting stronger as it got closer, or maybe it just wanted to be revealed now. One thing for sure, it was definitely scary.
Arms aching and still heavy with sleep, Katherine threw the covers off the double bed to cool her body still shimmering with a thin film of perspiration. The lacy shoulder strap of her blue cotton nightgown had fallen. She pulled it back up while absently fingering the daisies that her grandmother embroidered across the square neckline.
The early morning air from the open window felt good, soothed her skin, and brought peace to her mind with assurances that she was awake and the dream was where it belonged…tucked away in her subconscious.
The cry of a predatory hawk outside the open wooden-framed window punctuated the quiet of her room. In response, their single rooster crowed as if his life depended on it. The ranch was awakening. All see wanted to do was lay there and sleep,really sleep until she was rested.
She didn’t know why she became the hawk in her dreams, but having the predatory bird circling so close this morning reassured her somehow. Traditionally, the hawk represented a message and change. All year she had been taking steps to invite change into her life, was this a sign that her efforts have not been wasted?
The window was so large she could observe her feathered friend and its uninhibited flight. Its wings were fully extended against the backdrop of an ever brightening dawn sky as it flew in a tight circle. The graceful motion of the bird belied its deadly intent. With one slight adjustment of its wing, the flight pattern was reversed. Prey was sighted. Within seconds, it was in a full dive for the ground.
Getting up on her knees to nudge closer to the screen, Katherine placed her hands on the wide sill for support. The bird’s decent was rapid and precise. Leaning forward to see everything, she couldn’t help but marvel at its strength. Just before hitting the ground, the hawk spread its wings; talons extended, and skewered its fleeing prey.
In a soft voice, she repeated the prayer she learned as a child from her mother, “May the Great Spirit bless you onto your next life little mouse.”
With each powerful stroke, the mighty hunter took its morning meal through the opening of the hayloft in the weathered barn. This was the second season she and her lifelong mate had made their home in the rafters. Katherine was sure this spring produced chicks by the increased hunting patterns of both raptors.
It was late June. The ranch, nestled in the foothills north of Sedona, was a short drive to Flagstaff’s higher and cooler elevations. She could tell the Arizona summer was coming fast. The cactus was already in full bloom. Katherine rested her chin on her hands as the light of the new day kissed the edge of the eastern sky. Threads of vaporous clouds on the horizon donned an array of color from brilliant red to muted orange.
The scent from the tall lilac bushes beneath her second story window softened the brutality of the fight for life and death. Eyelids fell to a lashed curve as she inhaled deeply taking in its fragrance, almost tasting the deep purple of the plant’s color.
Suddenly, replacing the scent and peace of the moment, gold and turquoise flashed again across the canvas of her mind. “All right. All right!” Her voice echoed to the empty room. The dream demanded results. It wouldn’t let her rest.
The scarred wood floor of her studio apartment still held the cool of night. There wasn’t much insulation between the floors because this space was originally meant to be used for storage over the garage. She insisted on renting it from her grandmother for the lighting and solitude. It was convenient also because her grandmother needed her now more than ever.
Every few steps brought forth a creaking complaint as she went around her oak framed bed to pull up the other side of her quilt. She ran her hand over a few of the squares to smooth out the wrinkles. Both her mother’s and father’s heritage were embedded in its intricate design.
The Irish and Apache legacies were combined in a subtle pattern of green clover leaves surrounded by a bold zigzag print of burnt orange and light brown. The fabric was worn around the edges from rubbing them between her fingers repeatedly over the years.
How could her mother make such a thing of beauty and then abandon them so easily? Why couldn’t she have stayed and worked it out? Maybe her father would still be alive. Katherine stroked the edge of the soft quilt. She missed them and the life they should have had. The family she should have had. Katherine was twelve when her mother abandoned them. She still didn’t understand why.
Fluffing the feather pillows with more force than necessary, she threw them back on the bed. “Why did she have to ruin everything?” Children were precious and needed to be adored, not thrown to the side when inconvenient.
Katherine would be a different kind of mother if she had the chance. And she would have that chance! Over a year ago, she took a drastic measure. If she wanted a husband and children, she would have to make it happen. But, she didn’t just want anyone. She wanted the right one.
She was finally taking responsibility for her own life.
Katherine sat on the newly made bed and stared at what she created hanging on the wall. The campaign was planned like a seasoned warrior, a strategy to manifest someone who would be her life companion and dearest friend. The first step of this endeavor was to create a vision board placed next to the bed so she could see it before going to sleep and upon waking. It was filled with images of couples in love and happy children holding hands with their parents. The picture in the center was of a handsome model with sun-kissed brown hair and golden brown eyes that sparkled with his lopsided grin. Katherine sighed with longing. After the ceremony she was completing today, she hoped she would finally have what she deserves—her soul mate.
What about the consequences? A small inner voice questioned. Never mind the fact that she turned away from her grandmother’s teachings as well as her mother’s traditions, and yet here she was toying with the Great Spirit trying to manipulate her own desires. Would anyone really care? Would it even be noticed by the ancestors above? What about her living ancestors walking around on two legs nearby?
Katherine snickered then, filling the room with ironic amusement. If only her grandmother knew what she had been up to, she would flip. Grandma Andy always loved it when anyone followed her advice. This time Katherine left her in the dark. It was too embarrassing to share and too revealing of her dearest desire.
A tinge of anxiety tightened in her chest. What if it didn’t work?
What if it did? She rubbed her heart absently from left to right soothing its worry.
From the other side of the room, her easel beckoned. She would have to wait until she satisfied the painting’s demand for attention before completing her soul’s desire.
Working on the painting was her only source of relief from the repeated images that haunted her dreams. Katherine’s cousin and dear friend, Clara, helped her figured it out a couple of months ago. She suggested painting the nightmare. Now, if Katherine didn’t paint, she couldn’t sleep at all. She stared across the room at what she hated and loved simultaneously.
Thin wooden legs of the easel supported the taut canvas. The image at its center was roughly outlined in gold with light and dark shades of gray surrounding it. Now she knew what color to add in the empty places on the forehead and cheeks.
The scary geometric designs from last night’s dream revealed another layer. From this distance, the painting looked different. Its three dimensional image jumped off the canvas. She quirked her head and wondered…what if it was more than she thought before?
The raised texture of the paint on the canvas reminded her of the thick fog as her dream wings fought to remain airborne. Then it dawned on her as if the epiphany opened a new door in her mind and brought light to a previously dim place. She hadn’t just been dreaming about the mask, she’d been trapped in there—every night! Scenes of scary movies played in her mind amplifying her fear.
Words trickled out in whispered horror, “Trapped within a canvassed domain of paint.” The low hum of her realization filled the space of her studio. Goosebumps raised the hair on her neck making her feel cold from the inside out. How does one dream oneself inside a painting?
She spoke softly, all of a sudden more afraid than before, “What have I gotten myself into? What does it all mean?” Air unevenly released through her lips amplifying the tightness in her chest. This was too much—more than she could handle!
She was going to have to ask for some help; a large part of her rebelled at the thought. Darn it! Why was everything so complicated? Why couldn’t her dreams show the whole image at once? And why did it have to be revealed through so much fear? Why did she have to have them at all?!
Frustrated, she sat heavily on the four pegged stool and swung around toward her paint table. It was taller than average, made of wood, with cubby holes and drawers that were easy to reach. She ran a finger along the underside of one edge and pulled the box-like drawer out. It slid open smoothly. The beeswax she rubbed in the rails yesterday worked nicely. If only her life be as smooth.
The morning sun poured softly over her shoulder casting the perfect indirect light. Yellow and blue paint, mixed with a practiced hand, combined with white until the exact shade of turquoise was achieved. As the colors swirled on the circular, two-level pallet, her mind retreated to a place where she held the memories of her dream. With the paint board held and resting gently on her right thigh, she applied the first bit of brightly hued pigment to the austere picture.
Each stroke released a bit of tension from her back and shoulders. She picked up a second brush and dipped it in the yellow and white, then gently touched the painting to create light coming through the mouth and eyes. She didn’t know if the background light came from the sun or another source behind the image—maybe an unknown power.
The repeated dream had an eerie quality to it that she didn’t like. Some part of her believed the light in the painting had to come from an otherworldly place, somewhere that she had no business getting involved in.
Maybe the final answer would be revealed in another tormenting dream? Then it would be over…wishful thinking? That was all she needed—another terrifying night.
She touched the brush to the canvas again and surrendered. Time meant nothing to her when she was consumed in this place of creation. One breath, then another, came at longer intervals as a serene comfort held her in its embrace. A sigh of contentment filled the quiet, cozy room as she merged into her craft.
It felt right to hold a brush in her hand, like it was what she was meant to do, not vortex tours—the bane of her existence. Katherine frowned at the thought of the same old argument.
Yet in Sedona it was a good income, especially during tourist season. And that meant now. Her grandmother’s very good friend, Bernice, moved into the house a couple of years ago to save on living expenses. Her Social Security and the small store she owned were completely inadequate for her to retire. Grandma Andy, Bernice and Katherine all pooled their incomes together and still it wasn’t enough to run the ranch.
Bernice got the brilliant idea to start a tour business out of her shop Indigo Visions to make extra money. Sedona vortexes were world famous. Why not? Bernice persuaded them that it would make a unique offering to the community and its visitors. The logo she insisted on plastering in four inch letters on the side of her purple van was more than embarrassing—it was mortifying. She could see it all too clearly in her mind.
Discover the Magic