The house was dim, like someone had forgotten to turn on a light on an overcast day. Obviously, it was time to move again. Boxes lined every visible wall and seemed to reach for the ceiling in the gloom.
Faint shuffling noises emanated from the direction of the kitchen and I turned and headed in that direction.
There was Mom and Dad, pulling boxes from a corner and shifting them in the direction of the doorway.
I approached them and held out my hands for the first of the boxes, passing them to Draco. It struck me as odd that he would be there. I knew somewhere deep inside that this was a dream. A familiar dream. An echo of a memory stirred somewhere in the back of my mind and I knew that something had changed, although the feeling of familiarity held.
Then I saw it. It was the box of nightmares past.
I had dreamed of this box since my teenage years, and never quite understood why. I knew enough to know that I feared this box on some deeply rooted level that I couldn’t explain.
Mom calmly pulled the box from the corner and passed it to Dad, along with a look I couldn’t define. I realized then that Mom should not be in this dream. Mom was gone. Almost 2 months now. Was she now haunting my dreams?
Dad took the box and sat it on the freezer at his side and avoided meeting my gaze. This was odd because in dreams past, the box had been kept from me. I had experienced being in it’s presence, but had never touched it. One of my parents, generally my mother, had always taken the box away almost immediately, like something being hidden from me.
I reminded myself that I was an adult, not a frightened child, and willed myself to reach for the box. Still, my hands would not move. I stood, rooted to the spot and stared at the box, trying to remember why I should be so frightened of a silly box. I could feel everyone watching me without looking directly at me.
The box was the same as I remembered, but was showing the signs of age. A darker brown, dog-eared flaps crisscrossed the top. It seemed to bulge a little at the top where the flaps didn’t quite make a complete closure, as if something had repeatedly pushed against the top from the inside or it held something that didn’t quite fit.
I felt Draco looking at me with curiosity, somehow sensing my hesitation.
Finally, I held hands that trembled out towards this seemingly innocent package. I picked up the box with determination and turned and headed towards the door instead of passing it to Draco as I had the others. I could feel his presence behind me and knew he wanted a private moment to ask about the contents of the box. I wanted a private moment with this box. I wanted to know what the box held that had been kept from me all these years, but at the same time, I was afraid of finding out what was inside.
As I crossed the living room, I could feel the box tremble in my hands. I tried to tell myself that it was me that was shaking, and I was, but I knew that the box was vibrating of it’s own accord as well, like it knew that I was the one that held it. It only ever seemed to react this way in my presence.
Without warning, the sounds began. The growling of a trapped animal. The box somehow knew that I held it.
It was then that I realized that it wasn’t the box I feared, but what was inside. Memories flooded my senses as I remembered fragments of other dreams in which this box had made an appearance. In my mind’s eye, I could see the tiny eyes peering out of the space in the top of the box where the flaps didn’t quite meet. A flash of some kind of fur…
I nearly dropped the box and headed for the door, but somehow I felt that this box and it’s contents were mine although I couldn’t say what or how.
Instead, I turned the corner and headed into my parent’s bedroom and set the box on the first empty surface I came to. I took a step back involuntarily and stared at it.
As Draco came along-side of me, the box began to shake violently and I knew that whatever was in it wanted release. I felt a moment of compassion for what was trapped inside, along with a kinship I couldn’t explain. I thought about throwing caution to the wind and releasing the flaps, allowing freedom to the thing trapped inside but something stopped me.
As I watched, a little furry head forced its way through the opening in the top and it looked at me with curiosity as if it were just as curious about me as I was about it. Somehow it didn’t look as frightening as I had thought it would and I felt that pang of sympathy, once again, for something trapped inside a prison defined by others. Caged for what it was.
It looked like it should have been a dog of some sort, but somehow, it wasn’t. I knew all too well how it felt to know that you should be something you weren’t and to be hated for it. I knew from years spent in my room, what it felt like be locked away like a dirty secret.
It was then that I realized that this box, and the creature in it, represented me and my feelings about my place in my family. The place where my mother had put me. In my room, a figurative box. A prison with a view of a world I was told I would never fit into. I could see the outside, but I couldn’t be part of it because something about me was different.
As I looked this creature in the eye, I knew that it was a part of me. It was all the parts of me that I tried to hide from the world in an effort to fit in. It was a representation of everything about me that had ever been “different”.
As the first tear slid down my face, I reached for the box once again, this time without fear or hesitation, but with compassion and understanding. I pulled the tiny creature from the box and embraced it and felt whole for the first time in my life.
*Author’s Note: I have had variations of this dream since I was about 14. Roughly 2 years after going to live with my Mom. I believe in my heart that my Mom somehow attempted to return to me something we both felt she had taken from me in this dream, and for that, I am grateful. This is the first time I have dreamed of my mother since her passing on June 13th of this year.
It should also be known that I have always been a vivid dreamer, and I have found that more often than not, my dreams hold meaning either for me or for someone in my life. I don’t always know what they mean, and in this case, it has taken me over 20 years to finally understand the meaning. I have never written about my dreams before beyond private journals, but I’m finding that I like it and I will most likely start writing about them here.