by trogers5 on March 3, 2022
AJ Worsley ’22
“I didn’t even realize it was the same place until this morning. My hands were vibrating, and I had no idea where I was. The side of my face, only mildly sticky from drool, glued me to my pillow. My bed was no longer the only familiar environment.”
I am standing in the middle of the woods when it begins, standing alongside trees taller than Him, the clouds rolling through them. I kick my sandals off my feet and run my fingers through my pockets. In my rummaging I find a set of keys. I look at the keys in my hand and drop them down into the sand. Why is there so much sand in the forest? Barefoot and empty pocketed, I begin running. Eventually there is an opening in the trees, and I run towards that. Upon getting closer I realize it is a cliff and I cannot slow down my momentum causing me to run and jump into what looks to be a massive quarry in the middle of this forest, at the bottom of which lies a lake for me to land in. For a moment I am flying. It’s the shortest moment and simultaneously the longest ever. Trees surround the quarry, the true heart of the forest, and in looking down I see the water is not a bright crystal blue, but a muddy green, tainted with ecological hurt. It resembles a Missouri swampland, beautiful shades of green that you fear because of what lies beneath. At the moment of impact, I rush under the water like a missile, my feet touching the bottom of the lake, sending me popping back up like a float. When I rise above there are suddenly dozens of worn houses floating on the lake. They are decrepit, worn, with massive holes on the side, shards of glass from broken windows on their front porch, likely housed by alligators. There are trees down in the water now too. They hang over the houses and decorate the landscape for a much less fearful green. There is only one house that is intact, so I swim towards it. Pushing myself up onto the porch, I hear rattling in my pockets. Soaked, I stick my hand in and feel the same set of keys. I knock on the door, and nobody is around to answer. After trying several keys, the last one finally unlocks the door. As I begin to walk in—
“And that’s where it ends every time. I wake up. I never get to explore the houses or familiarize myself with the environment. I expect to wake up in my bed soaked every time, but I am always dry. There is no quarry, no house, no forest.”
Her pen moves across the paper rapidly as if she were a sketch artist.
“What’re you writing down?” I ask.
“Do you consider yourself a pessimist?” she asks, dodging my question.
“Well, if I was an optimist I probably wouldn’t be in therapy.”
“Have you heard the theories about what it means to jump off a cliff in your dreams? On the negative side, people have said that it could relate to some sort of distress in your conscious life, a lack of control or a strong sense of impulse. On the lighter side, it could relate to a recent victory, or a fresh start.”
Her buzzer goes off.
“Well, that concludes our session for today,” she begins. “I’d really like to pick this up from right here next week.” She puts the pen and paper down and turns around to drink from her glass of water.
I lean over to see what she has written down but all I see is a vivid drawing of the quarry and the tall trees. I don’t question her. I just look forward to returning to the woods with the keys in my pocket with the hope that next time I will see what lies in that house.