Lose your Temper!
Dreamed 2007/8/30 by Emily Joy
My school's having a giant end-of-the-year party at a strange library-museum. I vaguely recall ice cream being given away, a slight argument with some kids I don't know, long lines at the food tables, interesting objects on the ground and hidden between bookshelves.
Toward the end of the picnic, when everyone is leaving, I'm wandering through the library one more time when I stumble upon a room I'd overlooked. It's big as a warehouse, and full of bicycles, unicycles, spinning wheels, and exercise machines. Peculiar. But it's the floor that really gets my attention; slate gray cement, it slants gently toward the opposite wall, makes a sharp four-foot drop, slants some more, makes another drop, slants again... So by the time the floor reaches the other side of the room, it's a good twenty feet lower than it is where I'm standing in the doorway.
Sitting on the edge of the second drop are four little girls, probably no older than six or seven. No one's told them the picnic is over. They've missed their buses, but nobody's noticed yet. I'm not sure what to do. Should I take it upon myself to drive them home, or what? I talk to them for a while, and we get onto the topic of crafts--they suggest driving to Michael's (a craft store a few towns over) and getting some art supplies before I drop them home. But at least one of us always disagrees about some aspect of the plan--we take turns being stubborn--until I don't know what the plan is.
At this point, a librarian discovers us and tells us that the library is closing. Luckily, she's a very nice person, and not in a hurry; once I explain the situation, she helps me haul the girls back up to the first level of the cement floor (how did they even get down there in the first place? They're tiny) and herd them to the front office and call a mother or two.
The girls run wild in the office, giggling and talking. They swarm around me and ask if I'm still going to go to Michael's without them. They seem to really want me to go there. Just to get them off my back, I tell them, "Sure, maybe." But in all honesty, suddenly I don't know if I'm capable of driving all the way to Michael's. So it's just as well that they're being rescued by someone other than me.
I say goodbye and drift outside. Just beyond the threshold of the doorway, I find a tiny plastic Pokemon attached to a key ring. Nidoqueen, I think. This pleases me, so I start looking down. Halfway down the dirt path leading from the door, I find a piece of metal shaped like a heart. And another. And another! Many, many metal hearts, each slightly different from the others. I madly collect them, thinking of making friendship charms for Maddie, Brit and Siggy... Or maybe the four little girls would like them? Hmm. I don't know if these hearts are really their style...
As I search, I hear my mother talking to another mom. I can't tell what's being said, but I can feel that my mom's annoyed with me because I was supposed to be home ages ago. More than annoyed; she's furious! Why did she drive all the way back here?
I'm trying to decide how to feel when the other mother walks right up close and stares down at me. She's a short, slender, black-haired woman dressed all in blue.
In an acid tone she says "So I hear you were planning on driving out to Marshall's?" she inquires. "Don't you have enough clothes?" Marshall's is an overstock clothing store right next to Michael's.
Her tone completely throws me off. "Huh? I...uh...well, yeah, but..."
She squints at me. "I'm a spiritual therapist," she says. "Your mother has told me quite a few things that disturb me. Why are you picking up those objects?" she asks suddenly.
"Um...because they were there, and I like them?" I answer timidly.
She advances, squatting to my level and staring hard at my face. "What if there weren't any more? Or, no--How about if I knock them out of your hands? What would you do?" She draws back a hand threateningly.
I answer: "Pick them up again, and wonder why you're mean."
She stares harder still; I get a weird, spied-on feeling. "Okay," she begins, "your mother has paid for a session--right here, right now. She's concerned with the way you've been growing. Frankly, so am I."
"What has she told you?" I ask. The therapist hands me two smallish yellow cards covered in tiny writing. The first is pretty banal and doesn't seem to mean much; it's just a kind of "reasonably okay kid who plays nice" report card. The second, larger card is hard to read because a blank strip sweeps right through the writing, cutting words into fragments. It looks like the result of a toner problem in a printer, or maybe the card got wet. The text around the wipeout is faded, too. Of the phrases I can read, the only phrase that sticks is "tendency to regard all change suspiciously."
"That's you three years ago," says the therapist, indicating the smaller card. "You were developing well..." She analyzes my past for a while--I don't recall the details. "But more recently your technique has gotten darker. I won't be surprised at anything you do now." She emanates dislike and disapproval.
"What do you mean?" I ask in bewilderment. She holds up a third card. It has clear, dark writing on it, but I can't read it at all--the letters squirm.
She fixes me with a razor-sharp gaze, and states, as if it's obvious: "You're in denial. About something huge. Let's talk about this."
"What did my mom tell you?"
The therapist's voice takes on a cold, clinical tone. "You have grown selfish. Your mother requested the reason for your scavenging behavior. Those hearts recently belonged to other people."
"They dropped them," I answer, stung. "I always pick up lost items."
"Of course you do. You don't have to pay for them."
"That's not why!" I yelp. "I'd give everything back to everyone if I could!"
The therapist taps the illegible card. "You're selfish. Face it. I've heard everything about you. Listen--I can read this card: falsehood, beguilement, death magic. You use your powers to manipulate peoples' minds, to get your way. You insinuate yourself into every story, so nobody will forget you; you crave a permanent spotlight that you just don't deserve."
The blood drains from my face. "Lies," I whimper.
"You own mother told me everything," the therapist snaps. "You're not fit to use magic. You are a danger to everyone around you; your friends could wake up one day unable to pursue their own motives, because your powerful will has overwhelmed them." She leans closer, her voice a soft deadly hiss. "Your mind, that you have spent such energy creating, is nothing but a parasite."
"Stop it! That's wrong! This is all lies!" I burst into tears.
She gives me an arch look. "Why should I believe somebody who's in denial? Besides, a mother knows her children like no one else can."
"What? But that's--it isn't--" My emotions threaten to swamp. But underneath, my mind has picked up on something subtle. Why does she keep pushing the mother issue? What is she really up to?
The therapist taps her clipboard impatiently, waiting. "Selfish," she prompts. "Unstable. Immature. Irrational."
"That's not TRUE!" I scream. "My mother doesn't know me!"
"But of course she does."
"No she does NOT!" And there is it. The truth. It surges into my mind and unleashes a flood of searing, scalding anger. I hiss and compulsively stretch my upper body along the ground, clawing the earth like a big cat. "How dare she! How could she tell a stranger all these awful things about me? What's wrong with her!?" I start crying in earnest.
In the middle of this outburst, I find that my mind is working undercover again. Intellectually I'm nervous that my display of emotion will come across as bluffing; I hope this supposed spiritual therapist is empathic enough to know that my anger is true!
I take a deep breath, coiling all my hurt and anger like a spring. "She doesn't fucking know me!" I yell again at the therapist.
Immediately I snap awake. For a few minutes I'm literally paralyzed by my emotions, then they slowly fade, leaving behind confusion...
NOTES IN THE MORNING
I said that my dreams set inside this recurring school-hall "often turn out to be psychic." Well, today I went off to stay at my grandparents' summerhouse for a week. When we set out for the beach this morning, the first people we saw were the four little girls from my dream, their bikes parked nearby, selling lemonade and popcorn from a driveway! It was unmistakably them. "O symbolism, where have you gone?"
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