jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


The screaming wakes me up. It is the absolute definition of blood-curdling, and I am rigid with fear. It is the sound of profound horror, and keeps going on and on, it is not stopping. I hear the sound of the entire house waking up, feet hitting the floor with emphatic thumps, doors opening, lights flicking on. The screaming is so loud my entire head is filled with it, there is no relief from it, it is not diminishing. I hear my parents tumble into my younger sister’s room, looking for the source.

My god, the sound is not stopping, it is a long ribbon unspooling, unwinding and now I am wide awake. And my mouth is wide open. The sound is coming from me.

It was a nightmare, a nightmare I had only once, that night when I was 14. I am hiding, scrunched into a ball with my arms wrapped around my knees. I am crammed into a small space, like a cardboard box, and it is open at the left and right sides. Through the open side on my left I see the man’s legs walk past, and I think that maybe I am safe, he has not found me. The legs walk past again, and I am afraid that he is honing in on my hiding place, I have done something to give myself away, hidden stupidly, taken a harsh breath. Then the legs stop, right in front of me. Has he found me? Is he still looking? Is he standing there in front of me, knowing I am here, sensing my fear, prolonging his enjoyment by letting my dread grow? When will I see his face, horribly inverted as he bends over to shove it towards me, his arms thrusting through my hiding place to grab me, the fingernails that dig into my skin?

This has not happened yet. It is just the legs in front of me. My mother is somewhere. Can I call for help? Will she get to me in time? Can I scramble out of my space, backwards, away from the man, can I move quickly enough to get away from that grin, those cruel fingers? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t think I can. I need my mother. I take a deep breath, I start to scream.

I had that nightmare only once. But I lived it many times. I never screamed. I did as my father told me. “Suffer in silence. Pain builds character.”


Blogger Dr. S said...

I've let this one run around in my head all day, in the hopes that I'd come up with something good to say in return, but all that keeps coming is, Oh, sweetie, I'm sorry. So, for what that's worth, there it is.

12:36 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

aw, thanks. I don't mean to horrify. Well, a little bit.

Someone I know described writing a novel, saying, "you know, sometimes you just have to scream." And I didn't know.

But every once in a while I feel a tremendous amount of pressure, not from what lives inside me, but from people who want a piece of it. All the writers and directors and actors I hang out with think they know what I should do, but it is hard to process and I get frustrated. And so, this scream. Thank you for bearing with me.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Always happy to listen when needed. Scream all you want; you hear it when I do. And yes, I know from needing to keep a lid on it much of the time, most of the time. I am meditating a poem cycle that will, I suspect, be very angry indeed, because really, it's about time that stuff got a chance to go somewhere.

1:37 PM  
Blogger cherrydragonut said...

I'm sorry. What a frightening experience. And it sounded like it was so real while it was happening that you can't help but wonder if it is a memory or a premonition, or maybe a warning, or alternate reality. Then again, it could be the plot for your new sci fi novel or video. Sometimes when I am writing without shhh-ing myself, my characters come to life. They start talking to me and to eachother. What a trip! LOL. May you find joy and mirth in your dreams, light, love and happiness... Funny, when people say may your dreams come true, sometimes they are so vivid and real to me that they feel like they are true. And when my life is feeling stagnant or I am isolated, I turn to my dreams for fulfillment, for company, for ownership (?) The word just came out. I guess in my significant relationships I feel a sense of ownership, possession. My friend told me, without meaning any harm, that when you get older, friends aren't as important as family. Easy for her to say! She is a stay at home mom. For us single folk, our friends are our "family." Speaking of which, I had the best Thanksgiving in years with my cousins and aunts and grandmother. Amazing how my mother's passing brought in all of these renewed relationships. No heartbreak this year or dangling axes. Though I do admit that my dreams at times seem to be dangling hope or doom. When I was younger I never use to talk about them. I held on to them like my secret lover. And back then it was as close to having a lover or a good secret that I could get. I think during my roughest times, it was my dreams that bailed me out. No kidding. If you ever have a scary nightmare again, pray. I'm serious. Ask God for some help. Thy will be done. Some people say that God needs us as much as we need him. God talks to us in our dreams. I believe that. But my well meaning stay at home mom friend tells me she is an atheist. She doesn't talk to God. She talks to her family... Funny how things come about. When there is no one to talk to I write. When there is no one to play with, I fantasize...or I work so not to be totally wasting my time. But sometimes I feel like good dreams are orders for good times. And the bad ones, well maybe they are lessons. So glad that you're there Jolie-Laide. You could call me after a bad dream. :) Funny how psychic fear and heartache, disappointment can be as devestatingly real and worse sometimes as our waking pains. Fortunately, our joys out number our nightmares. Bla Bla Bla-ing on your blog again, I'm afraid. Sorry. I'll tell you though, I've seen people from the Bible in my dreams and they've kept me company the entire next day! And I'm not even versed the Bible. Go fig-ya.

5:25 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

oh yes, joy outnumbers nightmares, most definitely. But I don't believe in god and although it may be that I have entirely less reason to put faith there, I do believe in people.

Cherry, I thought about this nightmare for the longest time. It was the being wedged into the box that threw me off, did not allow me to see it for what it was. It was actually me, having squeezed myself under or behind the low couch, hiding from my father, who would hunt me throughout the house. Not nice.

7:38 PM  

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