Dreamed 1994/1/28 by Chris Wayan
For Jorge Luis Borges's "Rani"
I'm south of San Francisco, heading for the city with Jeff, a friend I haven't seen since high school. He's driving a pickup truck. Sitting between us is a stranger. His girlfriend? But he doesn't even tell me her name. He acts as if he can't see her, as if she's a ghost. I'm afraid to ask. Am I seeing spooks?
Jeff heads north along a road at the foot of the hills. The road ends abruptly in a T. Just a jag, I know--it connects with Skyline Boulevard soon, and goes all the way to the City.
Then everything goes blank.
I come to suddenly, confused. What happened? I'm standing on a steep street that dead-ends in both directions at busy roads. One of them must be Skyline, the road we should follow. But which? And which will Jeff be on? I'm sure he'll look for me, but which corner should I wait at?
I look closely at the hills and decide I need to go up. At the top, I don't wait at the corner after all, but follow a hunch, in the least likely direction--SOUTH, away from the City. The road instantly steepens into a large driveway curving up through woods to a lumber-yard. Trucks and pickups, lumber stacks... I worry they'll be hostile; ranchers here on the Peninsula often are downright rude to city types blundering into their operations, so I try to look woodsy.
A few people are huddled around some woodworking benches in the yard. Their leader is a tall grizzled middle-aged man. He looks at me suspiciously. Across from him leans a small woman with weird body language; she moves in quick fluid bursts then freezes, tilting her head and staring at me like a small animal not sure what I am. I'm not sure what she is either. Beautiful, but... human? Intuition says not!
I ask "Sorry to bother you, but did a couple in a pickup truck just barge thru here, looking lost? The driver'd be a guy named Rick." Wait, wasn't it Jeff from high school? Or WAS it Rick?
The old man asks "Friends of yours?" and I tell the truth: "I've known one for twenty years, the other, twenty minutes."
As I speak, a pickup truck roars out of the woods, with a man and woman in the cab--but not the ones I lost! Yet... I know the woman in this one, from years ago. She's tall, black haired, cute and warmhearted, but with a life path utterly unlike mine, all business and people. But do I know her from Stanford Library, Psychodrama, UC Santa Cruz? Years ago, anyway. And the man's a total stranger! A man and a woman in a pickup, one an old friend, one a stranger... they fit my description exactly! The ranchers relax; I was telling the truth.
The wrong truth, but they don't know that.
The animal-woman shows us what they were looking at: a tennis-ball-sized lump of foam with a papery cocoon inside. As if a wasp built a nest inside a tennis ball! They're trying to figure out just how it happened.
Out from between the sheds comes a second girl, and now I'm sure they're not human. They're as different from each other as a squirrel and a raccoon, but just as clearly different from the human species. I'm sure they're shapeshifters of some kinds, with an animal shape that influences their human form. And senses. And behavior!
I talk to them a bit, intrigued; I think I see why the old rancher was so wary and protective now. Lots of people might fear them--seen as human, they're jarringly wrong. They completely lack human inhibitions. But if you stop expecting familiarity, they're charming. In fact I feel more comfortable with them than with human people, for they don't expect me to be like them: they're too diverse themselves.
The new girl kicks socks up the driveway, which has become flights of steps while we looked at the wasp ball. She gets all excited, like a cat batting a paper ball around a room. I giggle "sock soccer!" and play with her a little. She bangs into me, not competitively, but the way a large dog might, affectionately.
I flirt a bit, unsure how with her. "Mmm, you're beautiful!" I say--that I AM sure of. I get more than I bargained for: she rubs up against me and we start kissing wonderfully. I pet her, not as I would touch a human girl, but like fondling a huge cat. She wriggles with pleasure, part sexual part simply sensual. I get very hot. And happy I've found someone as weird as me.
Then to my surprise the short girl, with the quick quizzical movements, breaks in wistfully. "Pet me too?" I look surprised and the first girl looks a little puzzled at my surprise and then says "Oh! Jealousy. Naw, it's okay. Both of us like you, so you'll end up with the one you like best."
"Yeah" says the jumpy girl. "Might as well find out as soon as possible which one of us you're most compatible with."
And so I kiss and pet HER! I tease them about it a bit: "I looooove having two beautiful shapeshifter girls competing over me." It's the first time two women have been attracted to me--or rather, the first time I've inoticed. I often overlook or mistake flirtation--from humans.
And the animal women are right. My body loves touching them both; as a shifter myself, I'm comfortable with their nonhuman responses. But it quickly becomes obvious I'm a better match mentally with the one called Rani: I'm more like her small animal than the other! No point in good friends fighting over me.
The reason they're smallish, I learn, is that their animals are. Some shifters are larger.
Nor are all shifters beautiful to human eyes. I meet one taller girl on the ranch who's a large otter or something. She's fascinating, intelligent and playful, but not sexy to me. She has a lithe long body and big deep eyes, but a weak-chinned weaselly face.
Hmm. The two I met, different as they are, may be friends partly because among a people so wildly diverse, they feel they're sisters--practically twins.
I half-wake, and lie in bed thinking "Why such a sexy dream, after such a blah day? My body was sore from dance, and I stood in line to sign up for classes, not the most sensual thing, tiring and cold in fact. Didn't do anything creative. Didn't read anything very sexy. Got turned on and masturbated just before sleep, but my body was too sore and tired for it to be an intense pleasure; relaxed me enough to help me sleep, that's all. No vivid sexual images. A RIDDLE is being posed. I did something right. What?"
Is it that I realized I need a light, casual affair or two so I can get over my fears, not a long-term girlfriend yet? Or was it that I recognized many of the beautiful women I saw in line had characters or brains or values so different from mine that we'd never be compatible?
Hmmm... I also imagined compiling a collection like Borge's The Book of Imaginary Beings, except the mythical critters in MINE would be beings I've met personally, in my dreams. Do my dreams find that a sexy idea?
Lost in these grandiose plans, I drift back to sleep without actually writing DOWN the dream...
Wake again, to find the dream is fuzzy now. I can't recall who that tall woman from my past was, and I did know in the dream.
Worse, I've forgotten the names and faces and even the exact species of the two animal-girls I liked, as well as who I chose! They go to all the trouble of showing me what kind of person I'm compatible with, and though I remember when I wake I let myself be distracted by some art project, and FORGET!
I've drawn them various ways, and ended up uncertain which are closest to the truth. I've included them all, contradictions or not, to give an idea how little I notice exact appearances--blinded by auras and feelings!
And by sloppy recall. Honestly! You'd think I'd know better by now.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
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