*Based on an actual dream I had*
Have you ever been caught in that place where you aren't sure if you're dreaming or if you're awake? Imagine being trapped there. Imagine a life where your dreams are so vivid that you become disillusioned by everything. Imagine living every single day in some hellish confusion, where at one moment you'll be drinking coffee with your girlfriend, and the next your face is being ripped off by flying leeches.
This is how I feel, every moment of my life. Even while I lay here in prison, I know I'll wake up at some point.
I've been trying to wake up for almost 15 years now.
How I ended up here is ironic, really. I had always suspected her of cheating on me. It's just that when I found her in bed with my best friend, I really thought it was just some nightmare.
The good thing about dreaming is that you can rape and kill whoever you want in the comfort of your own mind. We all do it. We all fantasize about doing the most screwed up things. It's just that after I saw the pieces of her skull sliding off the end of my bat, after I felt those cuffs around my wrists, after I saw my crying mother in court, and after I watched those guards laugh at me during my emasculation by the inmates here, I realized that I wasn't going to wake up anytime soon.
Contrary to popular belief, it's not that easy to convince a jury that you thought you were dreaming at the time when you painted the walls with your best friend's brain-matter.
But it was in this place that I had what many people would call, "The experience". Not the kind of experience where you see Jesus in a bar of soap or anything, but one of those experiences where, after going through a million miles of shit, you finally feel free. To use a cliche, it was that kind of experience you get when that great weight of all of your past sins are suddenly lifted from your shoulders.
It started when I ran away from everything. Literally. I just bolted to the fence, and climbed over it. I didn't care, I knew I would get shot with a rubber bullet or something. In all honesty, I wanted to get shot. It would either hit me in the head and kill me, it would really hurt, or I would simply wake up in my cell. I would have been satisfied with any one of those results.
Not one person noticed.
The thought of what I would do once I got out never really crossed my mind. I figured somebody would stop me along the way, but that never happened. I was, in essence, invisible. So, I did what any invisible man would do: whatever the fuck I wanted.
I waved down some poor kid who actually stopped to help me. I dragged him out of his car and beat the ever-loving piss out of him, and then I took his ride. I'm not quite sure what got into me that day. The rational me wouldn't let me do anything like that. What the hell was I thinking? I didn't feel like me. Maybe I had finally gone crazy after feeling unreal for 36 years.
I must say, though, that kid had great taste in music. I listened to the cds he had, and I wish to God I could remember those songs I heard.
I'm not quite sure what made me drive into that apartment complex in the city. Maybe I didn't want to be invisible anymore. Maybe I wanted to get caught by the cops. Or maybe I just wanted to get another taste of that mediocre life I once had. If you ask me, I couldn't tell you WHY. I just did. Really though, there wasn't much I was doing that day that made a whole lot of sense.
I went to the very top floor of the complex, and kicked down some guy's door. Nobody was home, so I went to his fridge and grabbed a beer.
You have no idea how good some things are until they're taken away from you. I gotta say, this guy had some shitty taste in beer. But even still, that was one of the best-tasting beers I've ever had.
I'm not sure how long I hung out there, but I was kind of impressed with the old guy. He didn't seem to be all that shocked or angry with me. He just kind of looked at me with a mild amusement as I sat at his kitchen table drinking his beer. He impressed me even more when he cracked open a beer for himself and sat across from me, almost as if he were used to convicts breaking into his house and stealing his beer.
"How long you been out?" He asked me after a while.
"Not sure." I told him. "When you feel like you've been dreaming your whole life, you kind of lose that perception."
I'm not sure why I said it in the way that I did, but something in the guy's face changed, and he asked me something I'll never forget.
"Dreaming, eh? Well, if you're dreaming, why don't you just fly?"
At first, I figured I ran into a guy that was crazier than I was. But then, something told me that this guy had more to say.
"Fly? What the hell're you talking about?"
"You know." He motioned with his arms, flapping them up and down. "Flying."
"Sorry, old man." I laughed. "I've got too much weighing me down to worry about flying."
"That's only 'cause you let it weigh you down."
I was too confused to respond. I hadn't dreamed of flying since I was a little kid. And when I did, it scared the hell out of me. I was too afraid I'd go out of control and end up in outer space or something.
"Listen son." He told me. "Your doubt in yourself is what's preventing you from taking off into that sunset. If you have the slightest bit of doubt in yourself, you'll never be able to reach your dreams. Just let go, brother."
He took my hand in his and gave it a squeeze.
"Just let go."
I could hear the distant footsteps pounding up the stairs, coming closer. The police were already there. I could only look back at the old guy and laugh.
"Just let go, eh?"
I took off my shoes and walked out to the balcony.
"What the hell, man. I've got nothing to lose." I joked. "I'll either wake up before I hit the bottom, or I'll die. Right?"
The old man just smiled at me and nodded. I wish I knew why he was able to speak my language. I wish I were able to stay with him longer. I wish that the cops didn't burst in right there and point their guns at me.
Get on the ground, hands behind my head. Don't move.
I could only turn my back on the old man, the police, and that whole confusing mess that was my life. The last thing the world needed was another nutjob like me. I stood on that ledge and held my arms out.
And I let go.
I lay here, time stopped all around me. My face is just touching the surface of the water. My best friend is right next to me, smiling.
"The good thing about dreaming is that we can take an infinite amount of time to figure things out. No matter how screwed up things get, we can always look forward to waking up to our second chance." I hear him tell me.
"So this was just another dream?" I ask him.
He gives a nod, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
"So you and Sharon are still alive, then? I can finally wake up?"
He looks at me, and I can see in his eyes the answer. I have to realize what I've done. I'm a murderer, and I have to pay for my crimes.
"It was real, then. I'm going to wake up in my cell."
"That's right." He replies.
"So what was this all for!?" I cry out to him.
His face changes to the face of my girlfriend, Sharon. She looks at me and smiles. I begin to sob.
"Because it's something you need to know. Sometimes, even our dreams have something to teach us." She tells me. "Sometimes, it's our own minds that imprison us. You need to let go. Leave no room for doubt. Only then can you soar."
I can feel my eyes begin to flutter open.
"I'm sorry." I tell her.
My eyes are open now. I can feel the remnants of my tears.
I am awake.