I dream all night. I found out that this isn't normal about a few years back. Apparently the average is about 4 to 6 times. Duration of dream notwithstanding, I can recall my most fitful nights of rest seeming like a week. If I sleep hard and solid I only have a couple. But if I'm waking up constantly, I guess that's the memory bank clicking on for a split second, just enough to catch those small, nonsensical images and store them until morning. One night I didn't drink, I didn't smoke, and I didn't take any pills. Every time I woke up I wrote down something about the dream I'd awoken from. When I woke up, I had more than twenty separate phrases written down. At least four of them simply said I DIED.
So I don't sleep well and I dream a lot. Usually its not a big deal. I'm not on sleeping pills or some shit but melatonin and ZZzquil or whatever helps a lot. But so does being exhausted. And ever since I started driving a truck, I've had plenty of time to be drop dead tired. Arriving home to my empty two-bedroom and asleep before I hit the bed. Anyone in Texas need a roommate? My only request is that you don't mind having a six foot tall transwoman trucker with a penchant for psychedelic and desert rock as your roommate. I swear I don't bite. And no, I won't try to play dress up with you or ask you if you'd fuck me. The worst I'd do is ask if you'd like to play videogames and drink beer. Oh, and ask that you're somewhat quiet during the day. I run night shift. It's not so bad, except when it is.
Last night was bad.
Three nights ago I was sent up to Dallas to shuttle milk tankers back and forth between Schepps dairy processing and Oak Farms. It's off of Dolphin road, that ghetto industrial area where boarded up houses are waiting to be bought out for more parking space, if only the other five or so crack heads on the block would give up their places. Shuttling sucks but it pays good. Two-fifty a night, but it's twelve hours of jumping in and out of busted ass semi-trucks, hooking them up to fully loaded tankers, and hauling them over four lanes of inner city road. Over the scales. To the agitation bay where the samples are taken. And then to the unloading bay. Bring the empty back. Repeat twenty or so times.
I did this for two nights in a row. I thought I would be able to drive the next night no problem. I was wrong. I was in a sleeper cab so I figured it wouldn't hurt to stop for a nap if I needed to. An hour into the drive I was already nodding off. It was almost midnight. Truth be told, I was tired as hell, and the four hours of sleep I'd managed during the day had done me no good. I've only moved in and black out curtains are still on my "to-buy" list.
I'd passed the rest stop and I remember vaguely thinking, "Damn. I should've stopped there." I blinked and when I opened my eyes a red little hatchback was blaring its horn on my driver's side. I was over the dotted line, and I just about damn near shoved that car off the road. I jerked the wheel back and swore as fifty thousand pounds of milk swung from side to side in the smooth bore tank. I warily (and wearily) watched my side mirrors as the tanker rocked back and forth on the tandems. I was damn lucky I hadn't flipped. Hauling tankers is rough like that. So I decided, fuck it. I need sleep. I've got plenty of money on the check already. And an extra seventy bucks ain't worth my life. A Dallas run was short enough to do two in one night. But not last night. There was no possible way.
Dark as it was, tired as I was, I didn't pay any mind to where I'd pulled over. I took the Millsap exit off of interstate 20, right after the rest stop I'd missed. To my grateful surprise, there was a wide strip of shoulder that seemed to pull off into a small drive of sorts. But the drive was gated and I saw no house. In fact, thinking back, I didn't see anything. Just some trees and what I thought were some old electrical boxes, though thinking back, that didn't make a whole lot of sense. Just a bunch of electrical boxes jutting up from the ground with no house or business in sight. That's not how it works.
It didn't register though. I was already on the verge of passing out. I eased the Kenworth over and made sure my tanker was off the road. I turned off my head lights and yanked back on the air brake release. The yellow and red knobs popped out and the hiss of evacuating air shot up dirt from underneath the truck. The fan clicked on, but was quickly off once I cut the engine. The night wasn't exactly cool but it wasn't hot. Very neutral. Womb like. I wouldn't need AC or the heater. I cracked the windows and wormed my way past the back seat and fell onto the mattress.
I wasn't planning on stopping. I had no pillow or blanket. Just my jacket on. But it shouldn't have made a difference. I was dead tired. Tired tired tired. I'd had good sleeps in worse situations. I'm a tall lady. I've been cramped and uncomfortable before. But this wasn't bad, as far as sleeping scenarios go. I'd slept in this truck before.
The first thing I dreamed was that I'd wrecked the truck. And it was odd. For a moment I thought I'd already slept and woken up. I was going to Dallas, just as I was, but I was on the access road, looking for the lane that jumped back on the highway. I watched and watched for it and it never came. I glanced back to the road in front of me and there was no road. Red and white striped signs with yellow chevrons on them. DEAD END in big black letters. I hit the brakes. of course it was too late. The front of the truck smashed through the guardrails. I felt with dazed horror the glass embed in my face and forehead and the sign slice through my chest and toro. The whole truck cab pitched to the left as the road dropped away. And instead of a steep embankment, there was nothing. It was a falling dream. I fell, and fell, and fell.
I jerked and blinked. Back in the truck cab. I stretched, turned over, mumbled vague disparaging comments about stupid dreams, and fell back asleep.
I was on a wagon. Not a little red one, but the old horse and wagon set up. I was sitting between two older folks with blank faces. There was nothing there. It wasn't that I don't remember--the faces were smooth, blank. They stared straight ahead. One was male and one was female. I just got the feeling they were my grandparents, but they certainly weren't mine rail thin and tall as they were. Their clothing was old. I felt the faceless grandfather put his hand on my back. I knew what he was going to do before he did it, but there was no time to scream or stop he. He lifted and shoved me forward. I landed in front of the cart and rolled, and looked up just as that narrow, wooden wheel rolled over my head. I felt and heard the POP. And where anyone might have been long in the black veil that is death, the dream still had me looking. I rolled, twitching, and watched as the horse and cart kept going. The horse was black. The wagon was black. The tall and old man and woman wore black. And on the ground around me was black, spewing liquid that was my blood.
My eyes opened. I thought I was awake. I rolled onto my back and stared up. A strange sense of claustrophobia took hold of me, which was strange. The truck cabin's roof seemed higher than it ever been. it stretched up in the darkness, lit only by vague panel lights. But that's when I look around and knew why I was feeling claustrophobic--there were no panel lights because there was no front half to the truck. Smooth, padded walls surrounded me on all four sides. And they were closing in. I was shoulder to shoulder and the ceiling was receding further and further away. I didn't scream because it already felt like I had used up all my air.
I woke up, for real this time, with a start. Confused, I flailed in the sleeper for a bit before I realized that the night had warmed considerably. I was sweating. After a few breaths, I opened the vent on the side and took off my jacket and used it as a pillow. The night was still silent. I could hear only the occasional car on the highway.
The dreams came rapid fire. Interrupted with only a toss and a turn before I would fall asleep again. The dreams were particularly violent. And many of them set in very old time eras, though a few dotted the modern age. A banquet hall fire. A restaurant stabbing. A dream in which I honest to god thought I was dying of a heart attack. I woke up with a start each time, yet again and again I forced myself to try and forget. I needed sleep, goddammit. I needed sleep so I could finish the remaining three hours of work the job required of me. So I could just go home and sleep on my real bed. I never should've left home to begin with. I should've slept in and done an early morning run. It was too late though.
The last and final dream I remembered most clearly, as always when I sleep. I was in a white dress and I held an infant in my arms. It was peaceful at first. Now this may seem strange to you, but as a transwoman, a dream like this is emotional in a deep way. I can't have my own children born of my own flesh and blood. Not as a traditional mother may, anyhow. But then and there in that dream I knew this was my child and it filled me with a warm feeling of love and motherhood. I held the baby girl up to my chest as I breast fed her, the front of my dress pulled down, and I knew it was a girl. And I called her Anna. She looked up at me with big brown eyes. And you never question dreams. You just go with it.
A man with an old brown cowboy hat and boots walked in. They clomped over floor boards. He took off his hat and nervously held it down in front of him. He brushed dust off its brim.
"Jenny, it's time to let go."
I looked up at him in confusion. "Let go of what?"
"It's time to let go Jenny. She's gone. She's been gone for a long time."
I stared up at him in slack jawed in confusion. His name came to me without a single doubt.
"Micah, what on earth are you talking about dear?"
He dipped his head down and shook it. When he looked back up, his eyes were hollow with sadness.
"Anna's dead, Jenny. Anna's dead and we need to let her go. We've got to bury her. You need to let go."
I scoffed, and chuckled, shook my head. "That's ridiculous. Anna is right here don't you--"
I looked down. The beautiful brown eyed baby girl in my arms was no more. She was a sickly pallid great with bulging, swollen eyes yellowed with jaundice and rot. Worms crawled in her empty mouth, squirming in and out, over and onto my breast and nipple that I was futilely forcing in its mouth. I felt them crawl over my chest---I thought I could feel them inside. And as I gasped to render a scream, for the upteempth time that night, Anna's tongue pushed forward and out, falling in a tumbling squirm of worms as a massive, single meal worm worked its way out of her throat, opened its jaws, and latched onto my breast, piercing either side of it.
I didn't just jerk awake. I leapt awake. I sucked in bellows of air as I smashed my head on the upper console. I saw stars and my ears rang as I fell back into the sleeper bed, moaning and groaning, tears welling up in the corners of my eyes. I'll be honest, I didn't give about a rat's ass about the string of dreams as much as I did for the new knot on my skull. I've had weird fucking dreams before, okay? Ain't no big deal. Ain't nothing to 'em. I've always had an over active mind. I remember dreaming at a young, young age about holes that went down to the center of the earth, and falling into one only to find myself passing all of my family members who had managed to cling to the walls.
But as far as scary shit went, I was admittedly unnerved. Rubbing my head, cursing and swearing, I stumbled to the front seat, grabbed the cigarettes off the dash, and used one hand to pull one out and light it. (Bad habit--I know. Even worse with HRT.) I sat that and nursed the cigarette and my head for a bit, if one could forgive the play of words. I stared and blinked at the bright morning sun. The day way cool but it was beginning to heat up in the cab without the breeze to flow in through the cracked windows. I turned the key and hit the window button and looked right, and then left as the windows rolled down.
I did a sort of double take without moving my head. I noticed the gate first. The old, chain wrapped gate that didn't have a lock on it. Just a chain wrapped round to keep them together. But when I finally registered the rest of the lot and trees behind it, my jaw dropped. I gawked. A long, way ward sign crooked sign with one side fallen on the ground spelled out the name of the property in which I'd spent my night in front of.
I laughed. It was easy too. It was day light, after all. Here's what it looked like. I was facing East with the rising sun, so I know. Shoddy photo. i.imgur.com/D23ktnF.jpg Old, a bit eerie, but nothing that a bright morning sun wouldn't keep from being outright creepy. In fact it had a nice sense of calm and peace to it. The morning was cool and I decided, hell. I'll go for a morning cemetery walk to clear my head. This is the kind of stuff I live for when truck driving. The strange, the unordinary, and the different.
I hopped out and stretched my legs and tossed my cigarette onto the gravel. (Bad habit, I know. Everything I do about smoking is bad.) I stamped it out and walked on over and bent backwards to work the kinks out of my back. And like I had every right to be there, I unwrapped the old chain from the gate and swung it open. It swung easily. With a kind of ease that made me wonder if it was because it was well used and kept up, or rarely used and undamaged.
The first thing I noticed was that the cemetery was old. Real old. Some tombstones were nothing more than well weathered, oblong rocks with edges smoothed away. They sat crooked and flat. And they weren't lined up in rows. They were scattered and unorganized. Sloppy. And some of the graves had concrete covers on them that were long ago cracked and broken, grass growing up between them. Some of the dates on the tombstones dated back to early 1800s. Some were as new as 2009. I didn't know if it was a private family cemetery or what. But the difference startled me, particularly for such a small grave yard. It couldn't have been more than thirty yards across.
The last thing on my mind was nightmares. The last thing on my mind was any sense of supernatural happening or eeriness. How could I? The day was beautiful. The breeze felt good on my back. My morning cigarette had calmed me well. And well... I suppose you could see where this is heading.
Near the back corner of the graveyard, an effigy of an angel with both wings broken off sat kneeled down in prayer. Below it, on the square base in faded carving, were four lines of text and number that threw every bit of good feeling out the window at eighty miles an hour. A whine of tension started up in the back of my head, and by time I started running back to my truck, my ears were ringing with adrenaline. I made sure to chain that gate back shut. I picked up my cigarette butt from the ground and shoved it in my damn pocket. I made sure to leave every goddamned thing just as I had fucking found it. I disengaged the parking brakes before the truck was even started. It was rolling backwards by time the engine was cranked and I'd thrown it into first gear. I stood on that gas pedal as those three lines ran through my head. I lit into another cigarette.
Just four lines.
BROWN EYED ANGEL
BORN TO JENNY AND MICAH
MARCH 1900 - MAY 1900