Naiad and God-Dog
Dreamed 1980/11/7 by Chris Wayan
I'm wandering on foot through a warm lush land broken by great cliffs and scarps looming over the trees. Walk around a pond to find it ends at the brink of a cliff. A roaring fall leaps down to a wider lake below. There's a zigzag path down. At the fall's foot, along a tiny beach, a smallish teenage girl and a big dog are walking. She has brown hair, tan skin, a white bikini; the dog is a reddish retriever. Their warm colors look like flowers in this land of endless blue and green. She invites me to swim in the upper pool, and I follow them back up the cliff-trail.
She says there's a local god associated with this pool. Wait... maybe I didn't hear her right, with the roaring of the falls. She calls her dog God! The DOG is a god? THE god?
They splash into the upper pool and swim. The water's warm, and I follow them in. We splash happily. Then God the dog disappears. Caught underwater, or just climbed out into the woods? She's uneasy, calls "God! God! Where are you?"
I dive underwater, and glimpse a brown limb at the limit of my vision. Follow underwater, grab. No, it's the girl, not God. I chase her, stroke her lightly whenever I come close. Her skin has that silky water-feeling. I'm very turned on, and she seems to be too...
But when we lift heads above the surface and talk, she's still half-distracted, still worried about her dog. Though he goes off all the time, God normally comes when she calls. She's starting to fear God was swept over the Falls.
There are a few other swimmers down the beach, and we ask them. "Yes, I did notice your dog near the lip." She looks panicky and swims toward the fall, calling "God! God!"
No God. At last I get scared she's going too close herself. Swim after her, grab her and pull her away, say "If God went closer than this, he got pulled over and died. If NOT, God's elsewhere. So let's LOOK elsewhere." I persuade her to come with me down the path to the foot of the fall again. In fact, as I hold her in the water, she says yes to much more than that...
She agrees to come live with me... "As long," she adds, as if she's asking a lot, "you don't mind God living with us." I'm allergic to gods, I mean dogs, but she's so cute, I'm ready to risk it.
If she can find her lost God. If God isn't dead.
We hike down the path and around the big lake, out of the mist from the great falls, into the sun. The shoreline path fluoresces with lurid flowers, luxuriating in the open sun. She marvels at the colors; she's spent her life in the waterfall's mist.
Flowers and sun, but still no God.
But then a message comes to us. There's no messenger--it just pops into both our heads. That's a powerful sender! It's the Schizophrenic Prophet, a locally famous oracle living up on a crag. He warns us: "I had a vision: this girl is a naiad, a goddess herself. She's spiritually rooted to the Great Fall and its pool, and if she goes too far away, she'll die like a dryad kept from her tree."
Didn't she realize? Or did she ignore the risk, for love of me, as I was ready to face allergies for her? She already feels weak and ill--I enlist some of her friends to help me carry her back up to her pool. We rush, increasingly frightened as she turns pale and cold, as if drowning in air...
We're too late. She dies there, on the path.
In grief, I leave that land.
At its border, I come to a gate with a booth. It's not staffed by humans, but cheerful little aliens, like baby seals in loud uniforms. And they're not border-guards. Ticket agents! They tell me proudly "We built this whole ride! Wasn't it great? Want to go again?"
What mangled my soul so it'll never heal was just their Disneyland. A ride you can take over and over, savoring the love and tragic loss... if you have the money.
I feel disgusted, shaken--and unsure just how cruel they are. Was she real, and they did this to her (and me!) for their entertainment? Or was she just acting, or worse, a construct--did I fall in love with a puppet? Either way, I'm horrified they could toy with my feelings so casually--so effectively.
Outrage, shame... and bone-deep fear. I never asked for this, never bought a ticket--I wandered into their theme park the other way, from the astral mountains! If this can happen...what OTHER rides am I on, that I never bought into--that I don't even know about?
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