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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Night Stories

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Professor Dumbledore allows Harry to use his “Pensieve.” The Hogwarts headmaster stirs his wand in the bowl of gelatinous goop containing all of his own memories, and withdraws a single clear strand.

I’d like to pluck my own memories from a Pensieve, but in addition, I wish I had a basin to fill with my dreams. On full-moon nights, when I sleep, I plummet to the deep ink of a dark chasm, sliding down mine-shaft walls to a place where rules are meaningless. Actions transpire in multi-dimensional patterns, scenes flicker like a temperamental TV screen; faces appear and blend and merge with wrong names and I travel to locations I know, but don’t recognize. Each film fractures like broken window panes that splinter me from scene to scene.

Some of my dreams foresee the future, like one I had my sophomore year in college. After a late-night cram session for a psychology midterm, I woke screaming from the image of my white-haired professor, dressed in a green trench coat, standing over me with the raised handle of a butcher knife clutched in his gnarled hands. That dream predicted failure on the exam—though I was in good company, as no one in the entire class passed.

Other dreams however, the ones that arise from slivers of reality blended into the buttermilk churn of imagination, the ones that fade quickly into the drifting fog of obscurity, are the birth of stories, I’m sure, if we hold on to them. J.K. Rowling after all, devised the game of Quidditch from ideas she encountered in a dream.

So I’m wondering what kind of tale I could make from the vision I remember from last night—when our temperamental cat, who like any other feline, hates water, jumped into a frothing Jacuzzi and hollered and scratched at me when I performed the requisite rescue. As soon as I dried her matted fir with a towel, she leaped back to the edge of the tub, plunged in and continued swimming. I stood puzzled, watching her sodden striped head as she breast-stroked amid a lather of bubbles rising like islands surrounded by tropical waves, suds that grew and heaved and piled, until they spilled like lava onto the wet tile floor.

Tell me about a time when you wrote a story from a dream.


Tabitha Bird said...

You know, when I saw that movie the first thing I thought was I wish I had a pensive.

The novel I am currently writing arose in part because of a dream I had. We'll see what happens with it. I am not very far in.

Anonymous said...

I started to write a story based on a dream in high school. Now that I'm considerably older and wiser (and probably more schooled in the craft of writing), perhaps it's time to revisit that quirky fantasy idea.

Thanks for the reminder, good lady! (And your dream-cat is strange, for the record... :)

Amy said...

Is that cat in the hot tub a dream? Usually when there's a peculiar incident in a dream, something that does not sit in my brain as truth or possible, I wake up just enough to realize "this is just a dream" and then I hope to fall back into it again so it will continue where it left off.

Liza said...

Yup, Amy, the cat was a dream--in some Jacuzzi I've never seen, in a bathroom I don't know...enjoying herself among the bubbles. Maybe I could start a children's story out of it called: What if Cats Liked to Swim. Hmm. Simon, let us know when your dream story is complete! Tab, best wishes on your novel.

Bethany Wiggins said...

The book I am currently writing was inspired by a dream. The first 20 pages, in fact, are THE dream. Funny how the mind works.

Arlee Bird said...

I have written many stories based on dreams, as well as poems and songs. The novel that I am now brushing up from my NaNo experience was partly based on a dream.