The Other Room
Dreamed 1948 by Nancy Price
Source: Acquainted with the Night by Nancy Price (1949), selections from an experimental dream journal she kept for one year.
"And shook my heart to think she comes once more,
But even then I heard her close the door--
The gate of Heaven is closed, and she is gone."
Again the waking memory is vague. But I know I was in a great house, and at the top of the stairs I was receiving the guests, only one of whom I knew, a writer named Henry Baerlein whom I have not seen or heard of for years. There was much talk of my mother; everybody was asking for her, but none seemed to know where she was.
"In the other room," I said.
And indeed this seemed true enough, for she is always very near to me, as though she had only just passed through a door.
"I wish you happiness," I said to Henry Baerlin, who it seemed was responsible for this motley gathering of people.
"You always bring happiness, and that is why you are here," he replied with his never-failing courtesy.
At that moment someone opened a door, and I felt a cold blast, which made me draw my furs closer round me. I actually recognised the wrap; it was one I had proudly acquired, in my ignorance, at twenty-one, and which I wore until I knew more of life and death. Then one of the unknown guests said, "I thought you loved animals."
"This is not a fur coat," I said, "it's only my dog I am holding, he is always with me. Don't you know the difference between the living and the dead?"
"There's no difference here," was the reply.
Then Henry Baerlein handed me a glass of wine; it was bittersweet. I saw a head-waiter I had known years ago when I was a girl, now long dead; I always called him the Bishop, because he did not serve or wait upon guests; he officiated, and in my dream he was even as I had known him. He stopped several children and said, "Don't touch the wine--yet."
Everybody seemed to be waiting for something important, and yet nothing happened. Desultory groups talked and whispered together. I tried to find out what it was all about, but failed; even my old friend the waiter refused to tell me.
"That is something I dare not speak of," he said. "Find your mother, ask her." But though I sought for her through endless rooms, and though I knew she was only the other side of some door, I could not find that door. Exhausted and disheartened, I sank to the ground. I again saw the waiter, he was bending over me:
"If you had drunk the whole glass, you would have found her."
Next day I had an appointment with a publisher, and in his office I met Henry Baerlein, whom I had not seen or thought of for forty years, and whose very appearance I had forgotten until momentarily recreated for me in my dream of the previous night. The afternoon following, I saw that same sable wrap, now worn and scarred by many years service, around the shoulders of my old housekeeper. And yet these two fleeting memories in my dream were insignificant in comparison with my overwhelming desire to find my mother; but she is still behind the closed door.
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