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Dreaming Hell

 

Furor was asleep in his hospital cot, his body formulated around the idea of him like a threadbare rag.  He wasn’t really asleep, but the excesses of the day had driven him into a state of reclusive amnesia where he could find respite from his turbulent thoughts and his body’s torment.  He had found this method of escape, so long ago he could not recall a time when he had not relied on this ability to take himself out of the maze and lose himself in mindlessness.

 

His name was different this time, too.  His mind had wandered insanely into the premise of Ruth and there he had stayed for some period of thought which he termed forty seven years.  Ruth was single, lonely and friendless.  Furor was totally captivated by the thought of her.  His mind no longer generated ideas which excluded her reality and he could not remember a time without her.

 

Through Ruth his experience of her world was bitter.  Failed relationships, low self-esteem, the unchallenging grind of a job which kept her trapped in a hamster wheel of supply and demand.  No children, no prospects, no money, no life.  Her disappointments showed in a face set against the world.  Her attempts at hiding her pain had ceased a decade ago and she looked perpetually tired and old before her time.  Furor adored her.  He petted the idea of her.  Mourned her loneliness, despaired her failures, raged at the iniquities she suffered as he lost himself deeply in the impossibility of her life.  The noose tightened.  He remembered the morning of the discovery.

 

Furor woke early that morning, disturbed by the construction trucks that rumbled through her city street at dawn.  Grumbling, he staggered gracelessly to the bathroom, creasing her eyes against the harsh light she turned on to see.   He squinted at the clock - 5.30 - and groaned. No more sleep now.  Pattering to the kitchen he started to make coffee, idly stroking her breast through the nightgown.  He suddenly froze.  Stroked again.  Found the swelling and estimated its size and shape.  As Furor’s mind lurched with panic, her stomach leapt in fear.  She ran back to the bathroom, pulling off her nightwear over head as she moved. She scrutinized her breast, the shape, the skin, the size, compared it to its twin.  They were no longer twins.  Her right breast had a distinct swelling on its right side.  How could she not have noticed before? 

 

And so began an endless round of anxiety, fear, misery, aloneness.  The anxious, coy embarrassment with the doctor rapidly turning into shame and guilt as each test produced results which filled her with a sense of failure so acute; she could no longer bear to look at the medical staff as they conveyed her penance. Chemo – a well deserved judgment on the assertive insolence of her disease.  She flinched from their unspoken recriminations.  Her guilt mirrored their inability to heal her, her refusal to accept their inadequate ministrations. 

 

And thus Furor lay curled in her misery, bald, ugly, a nauseous bag of skin, bone and diseased flesh.  His thought structured in a frame of assault from without and attacks from within.  Waves of nausea swamped his mind and washed though her body.  He could no longer keep afloat in the sea of sickness she floundered in.  Something within him cracked as she prepared herself for death. 

 

And Furor dreamed a dream.  Moving soundlessly through an endless white corridor, he found himself in a deserted hospital theatre.  The drama played out before him was shockingly familiar.  He saw Ruth lying on an experimental piece of surgical equipment, a T bench.  Her arms at right angles to her torso were fixed by surgical tape and hospital ID bracelets to the bench.  A drip feed trailed from a vein in the back of her hand.  Hairless and naked, her right breast had been amputated; tumors blossomed like bloody roses on her left.  Suspicious swellings showed through her terribly thin body as a catheter snaked away from her bladder. Multicolored bruises from countless biopsies and blood samples littered her arms and thighs. Her wounds oozed pus and blood.  She was aware of her own stench.

 

Her surgical team arrived.  They discussed her case unaware or unconcerned that she was conscious.  The head surgeon gestured at her.  “OK – let’s take a good look at her, shall we?”  A button was depressed, an engine glided smoothly and Ruth found herself hoisted upright, a paralyzed display on the stainless steel crossbars of the operating bench.  She hung there, immobile, desperate, exposed. The surgeon advanced, pen in hand, he prodded her various swellings and called for her medical charts. Shame and fear gnawed at her as she awaited their verdict.

 

“We can operate further gentlemen but for no good purpose.”  He smiled at Ruth, “You don’t mind do you?” he gestured at the chart in his hand.  Not waiting for her response he carefully hooked the clipboard over her head and allowed the chart to hang on her chest.  “Off we go then gentlemen, we’re finished here.”   

 

“Are you going?  What do I do now?” she questioned lamely as they filed out of the room.  No one answered.  Someone turned off the light. 

 

A seed of rage, turned inside for so long swelled within Furor and he thundered out of his sleep, empowered by the injustice of her abuse.  Tears coursed down her cheeks, “Enough, enough, enough!”  He raged.  “I will do this no longer!”  And then suddenly, he was out…

 

Was he asleep?  Was he awake?  He looked down to see the shell of Ruth below him, lying passively in her cot, apparently asleep.  Am I dead?  He lost any concern for the ugly pain of the body beneath him.   I dreamed a dream.  Which was the dream?  The surgery?  Or the dream of the surgery? 

 

His mind expanded and he left the confines of the room, then the hospital, reveling in a freedom he had not experienced for a long, long time.  And then the Light opened up to meet him.  He moved toward it, irresistibly attracted.  But just before he merged and lost himself within it he paused.  ‘Am I dead now?’ he enquired.  A ripple of humor flowed through the Light.  He received a thought in response.  ‘Life does not reside in flesh.  You are no more dead now than you were alive before.  There is only Life’. 

 

Furor focused on the Light and a memory of sublime peace and beauty was rekindled within him.  He breathed in the magnificent beauty of the Light and saw it was his own.  He thought of Ruth.  ‘I am not Ruth?’  He received a thought in reply ‘Ruth is an idea of yourself, it is not true, it is the story of one born in a body.  You are mind created, mind awake. You have the power to use your thought in any way you choose. Ruth is the manifested child of your thought about yourself.  Her experience is what you believe yourself to be.’

 

Furor remembered the agonies of doubt and fear he experienced as Ruth.  He looked at the vicious cycle of her anxiety which fed on itself nailing him deeper and deeper into the cross of her life.  He looked at the lives of those he had interacted with throughout his time as her and saw that they were one.  He felt a pang of sorrow at their joint ignorance. They were all consumed with their own grief, trauma and misery. He witnessed the cause and effect of their mutual mindset of separation and the compassion welled deeply within him.  “How can I help us?” he implored.   The Light repeated ‘You have the power to use your thought in any way you choose.’  “I want to go back” Ruth declared. “I want to heal my mind.”

 

Ruth was asleep in her hospital cot, her body formulated around the idea of herself like a warm duvet.  She wasn’t really asleep, but the joys of her experience had left her in a state of peace and grace that she savored with her new sense of self.  Her mind reached out in wholeness to those around her.  Her body began to heal.  She knew what to do.

 

Jane Wiltshire
March 2004
gonehome@hotmail.com