MY LIPS ARE SEALED
Dreamed 1989/6/3 by Chris Wayan
I run into my neighbor Megan in the store. No, my ex-neighbor. "I'm buying supplies for my housewarming party. I just moved out of my mom's house next to you--I got my own place!" Wow, she grew up fast...
AFTER I say goodbye, suddenly think "Why didn't I try to get invited? I want to meet single girls; they'd mostly be younger than me, but so what? I LIKE Megan and her friends."
But it wasn't just shyness; it didn't even occur to me I COULD ask.
I'm one of the Romantic poets: Byron or Shelley, or a mixture of both. I won't commit to my lover, Mary Shelley (or her sister, who had an affair with Byron); for privately, I never consider her my equal, though objectively, she is--brilliant, beautiful.
But is it all my fault? The Devil's trying to destroy us, after all.
His latest trick was to try to frame Mary Shelley for murder. He's chosen the victim: a blind woman who's locally notorious for her strange daily habit. Every noon she visits the shopping mall, strips, and swims naked in the fountain while people watch silently. She won't do it if she hears people, but the noise of the fountain drowns a lot. She's so eccentric they never arrest her.
But the Devil plans to drown her when Mary Shelley is alone with her there, and frame Mary for it! He's not omniscient but he knows Mary will visit the mall today for lunch.
But he's foiled by two senseless urges. First Mary Shelley, on a whim, drops a raw egg in the water, and it spreads. Then an old, old lady decides to wade through the pool. The blind woman arrives, hears no one, and strips to swim. Mary's silent but the old lady, though she's quiet, disturbs the water enough to make the blind woman unsure if she's truly alone. She hesitates as the the egg spreads... When she DOES enter at last, the water is cloudy and a strange fog arises.
The Devil looms. He's come to kill the blind woman. But he steps up past Mary Shelley, placing his ruddy hoof on the lip of the fountain, he slows, pushes against the fog... and is stuck. The fog is SOLID to demons! He can't enter. A spell-wall! The blind woman's safe.
One day my daughter and I are playing soccer on a field. On the south side, a strange translucent curtain rises, reminiscent of the magic fogbank that saved Mary so long ago. Inside, like the yolk in the egg, grows a faint, blurry light. I peer and peer. Slowly it resolves into the rising crescent moon! I know what this means: it's the shared emblem of Mary and our daughter, and its rise means the revolution will succeed in the end. We will be free--or our children will.
But I can't play soccer well. We're using an American football, a spindle that bounces unpredictably. I'm unnaturally slow, it's like running in glue. Gets worse. Invisible mush encloses my lips, dulling my voice, though I can hear clearly. I'm being muffled!
Gradually I stop fighting it and just notice how strange I feel. What IS this?
My daughter's upset and says "Father, it's OLD AGE. Why are you still trying to play FOOTBALL? You've reached an age when you can't play any more!"
I try to say "I'm not upset. I just didn't realize it was age and time that have slowed me. It's okay, for you're carrying on, and the moon is rising. All will be well--freedom will come, even if I don't see it." But the words come out too muffled for her to hear. My lips are truly sealed, now--like invisible wax.
She starts crying. But I'm not unhappy, just frustrated physically. At last, I use my PHYSICAL body's lips, in bed, because it's so important to reassure her. And of course I find myself awake in bed whispering "It's all right, with you here to carry on."
But I say it uneasily, now. I don't WANT to be old and crippled so much I can't even SPEAK!
And even now, awake, I don't make the connection for an hour or more.
I wasn't old--barely middle-aged! And it didn't happen gradually. Time? Nonsense! It was a CURSE!
The Devil, again, undoubtedly. Silencing a voice for freedom.
NOTES NEXT MORNING
At the time, I knew only the obvious. I didn't ask Megan "can I come to your party?" My lips were sealed, not by shyness, a devilish enough opponent, but by sheer lack of imagination. Didn't dare to think of it!
And it matters, says the dream. A stifled longing is a subtler tragedy than Tiananmen (the tanks were rolling as I dreamed this; I heard the next day), but small battles are just as important in the war for human freedom.
I didn't know it then, but the dream described how my father would die. The hints that "I" in the dream am my father are many: he was sports-mad, playing well into his seventies; he loved and taught the Romantic poets at our local college; he was a leftist, as obsessed with freedom and justice as the Shelleys were... yet he always underestimated his own daughters.
Suddenly, within hours, he was paralyzed by Guillaume-Barre virus. He died after months of mute struggle--his mind clear, but his lungs unable to breathe, lips unable to speak. My family's long-lived; he was the first of his generation to go. He died both old and young.
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