Monster with bird's head; detail The Hell, in The Garden of Earthly Delights Hieronymus Bosch

The Abyss*

It’s dark, we’re a group, we’re each of us riding a bike. So the nightmare starts with a group of people riding a bike in an unknown town and it’s dark. I’m leading the pack, I think we’re heading in the right direction and I’m urging everyone to keep on going as it’s dark already and it might be raining as the streets are wet and shining with the streetlights’ reflections. We end up in the wrong place, I don’t know where we are, I do know one thing: we’re lost.
I ask this guy for directions; he points to somewhere behind me, we have to go back, he says; oh no not all the way back, that’s too much; it’s okay he says, we can take a shortcut, we can cycle through the mall which has appeared next to us. Through the mall? I ask, you must be joking. He assures us it’s fine, this is a mall you’re allowed to cycle through and at the end of it, there is a way out and we’ll be nearer to our goal.
Off we all go into the mall, we cycle through it as fast as we can without knocking over any of the shoppers; we reach the end and there is no way out, not that we can see anyway. Again, I have to ask someone. The man I ask looks at me and says: there is no way out here, madam. Are you sure I ask, a guy told us there would be. Again he says: no, no way out here, you’ll have to go back. I’m panicking , we’ll never make it on time, the mall is closing….I’m confused. Then someone in our group shouts: here’s the exit, we can get out here. I turn angrily to the man who denied there was an exit, he just shrugs his shoulders as if he had forgotten about it.
No matter, we have to rush, keep moving. The way out is a very steep stairway we have to walk up and we can hold the bikes on our right side and pull them up on a narrow sill especially for the bikes. It’s heavy going and we’re making slow progress. I’m the last in line. In front of me is a tiny woman of Indonesian origin almost bent double with age. Then a young boy, in front of him a girl in her late teens, scantily dressed. She’s having a really tough time climbing, she’s holding the rest of us back. Quit stalling I shout at her and almost at the top she stumbles and the boy behind her trips and falls to the left. He almost drops all the way down. I scream his name: Marcel! Marcel hold on. And I’m leaning over and on top of the old lady and pushing him up with my left arm and my right hand is still holding on to the bike, because I’m aware that if I let it drop someone else below might get hurt. I hear a voice behind me; it’s the man who said there was no exit, he says to me: you can let go of the bike, I’ve got it. I let go of the bike and now I can push the boy with two arms and as he turns his face to me I recognize his face: oh no, this cannot be: he’s my youngest son, he’s not called Marcel. I scream my husband’s name, apparently he was in our group, he rushes back and with one arm pulls our son up to safety.

I wake up in tears, the image of our son at the top of the stairs, almost dropping …..I can’t get rid of it, I get up, go to the toilet and  back in bed try reading, the nightmare-feeling is still there, the sight of him dangling, I don’t understand it. I hug my husband and hold on to him, eventually I manage to fall asleep again. The next day the horrible image is still in my head and I tell my husband about the dream to try and make it feel less real. Thankfully the image isn’t there all the time, I can let it go, kind of.
 A few days later I tell a close friend and she can explain the dream to me. Thanks to her I now know what it signifies and am surprised at my initial lack of understanding. My subconscious had an incredibly forceful message for me.
 It still hurts when I talk about this dream, when I think about it, as I’m writing it down here. I tell myself it is just that: a dream. But if I’m worth anything, I have to listen to what my brain is telling me. Meditate on the dream, examine this pain,  what is it exactly that hurts and why does it hurt so much. Do not look away, do not look away from the abyss.

*The nightmare occurred early Monday morning April 1 2013, around 4 a.m.


Nancy said…
Wow! What a powerful dream. I once dreamed that my daughter and I were in a large body of water, drowning. I was trying to push her up and save her, but I was drowning too. I kept thinking how can I save her and myself at the same time?
She was 15 at the time (which should explain it well!)I don't think of it often, but when I remember, it's like it was last night, not 15 years ago.
Writing helps.
Thank you for sharing your dream with us.
Saskia said…
Isn't it, that is why I could remember, even though I didn't want to!! I'm glad to say the feeling of angst has dimished, but for a few days it haunted me; the image remains...
Nancy, how many children do you have, you've mentioned a son and a daughter?
Nancy said…
Yes, just those two. Of course that does not include my friend-of-many-years' children. She has 3 and the 5 of them spent their childhoods together.
My son is 32 and my daughter will be 30 in June. She has a son (10yr)
yes, it's possible that I am old enough to have these two...but when did that happen?!!! Ha :)
So, there you have it.
Saskia said…
ah so we both have two, our boys are 14 and 16, but I'm sure I've mentioned this before.....



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