In my dream I could not tell the difference between smoke and clouds. The sky was filled with both, and the columns and wisps of white and gray mingled and danced until one was the other and it didn't matter because either way I was being smothered.
The rest of the dream doesn't matter. It's the same dream I have every so often, the one where it is September 11, 2001 and the sky is falling. My fear brings me here, to the morning after when I wake shaking and catching my breath and for that quick, unreal second I think I dreamed the whole thing. And then I lay in the semi-darkness, listening to the rain pound a beat on the window and I want back that nanosecond when it was all just a product of my imagination and the world is fine.
I laugh at every new color coordinated terror alert. I make jokes at the expense of Homeland security and scoff at the reports of chatter and the news that maybe, just maybe but perhaps not, the target is New York again, and they will come by land or by sea or by plane. It's oh, so easy to laugh in the daylight.
When night comes the haunting comes in the form a a giant gremlin named What If and he brings all of his baggage and hunkers down for the night, refusing to leave.
What if they are right this time? What if the threat is real? What if we are losing the war on terrorism or worse, what if we have already lost and we just won't know that until the sky is on fire and the ground is shaking?
A plane flies over my home, the rumble vibrating my window. It's a huge plane, carrying over 300 people destined for meetings, romance, family reunions. No, no. I am no longer afraid of airplanes. I am afraid of my fear, the fear that comes to me in my dreams in monstrous forms - headless children, bombs, fires, dragons - and strangles me in my sleep.
It brings me here, to the waking world, where I can see the daylight and become distracted by life. I forget the real, deep frights that beckon me at night. War, terror, missing children, loneliness. They all take on a not me, not here form during the day, when life and living is a magical pendant against the nightmares of the night and the thoughts that creep into my dreaming life can be ignored or dismissed or pushed away.
The day is here. Life is for the living, not the dreaming. I have miles to go before I sleep, before I dream and release the fear again.