I had a reoccurring nightmare as a child in which I was confined in a large mausoleum by threat of numerous slow moving ice zombies. In this dream, I could always outrun the individual zombies but I could never outmaneuver the horde; I would duck and weave between the creeping bodies, I would hope over the altar in the middle of the room, circle around the bordering pillars. I would look desperately at the gateway that was my only means of escape, calculating the odds of making it out alive past the inpouring undead, and measuring how long I could keep up the chase in the dead-end prison. In many iterations, there would be a girl somewhere in the room who was petrified by fear. Always, I would try and grab her so she would run with me — and always, in my attempt to save her, I would be bitten. The monsters are specified as ice zombies because of their bite: it would render me frozen in place, incased by ice, so that they could take their time devouring me. Always, with a start, I’d open my eyes in bed before their meal began.
I had the nightmare maybe once a month for a year. At some point, the dream changed, and I could get away. I could hide in the pillars.
The pillars were similar to those classic Greek/Roman ones. White with indented patterning. But the ones in my dreams had a gap on one side — and ignoring any spacial limitations of reality, I could enter into the gap and there would be a descending stone spiral staircase, and down the staircase I would run — and along the way, on either wall, would be more pillars, smaller, with their own gaps hidden on the far side, tucked close to the wall. I could enter these gaps and be on a new staircase, running, down and away, with new pillars and new escapes. Eventually I could enter a gap — one like a flap of a curtain— I could step into it and wrap it around me, and I would be in a small tight space, down far and away, tucked into my corner-less corner, safe — confined, safe.
Three years ago, I had an admirer. A girl I went to school with, a girl I was friends with. In a nearly indescribable series of events —which for the sake of you, reader, for the sake of my friend, and for the sake of myself, I will withhold the details of — I found myself on the receiving end of an emotional fixation. I don’t say this to boast — I say it because it is what happened. For a period of time, the girl wanted to see me and I did not want to see her, and this lead to obscure behaviour by the former.
Once, I was in my bedroom at my college house, and I heard her voice downstairs; she had dropped by unannounced (acceptable, though unusual) and was talking to my roommate in the living room. I suspected that her true intentions of being at our house were to see me. But I did not want to see her, so I stayed in my room. An hour passed. She remained. I heard them mention my name a with increasing frequency: “Is Benny home?”, “I think so. He must be in his room.” A few minutes later, I heard their conversation move to the staircase, then up to my floor. I got tight all over. As far as anyone is concerned, I’m napping, I thought. I tried to actually nap. I got into bed and tried to fall asleep, so that I could wake guiltlessly later when she had gone. I couldn’t fall asleep. I changed tactics: I’d watch movie. I put in headphones and watched, overhearing their voices down the hall — my second roommate had opened his door and joined them in the conversation. My name was said even more frequently. I was in too deep; no going out now.
Let me summarize: I was a grown man —twenty-one years old— cowering in my own bedroom while my two roommates and a girl with which, by that point, I was a friend of four years, conversed politely on a Sunday afternoon. I’ll admit openly (though by now, unnecessarily) that my pushy admirer is not the only questionable character in this story.
I locked the door — at once ensuring my seclusion but also my presence. Up until this point, as no one had tried my room, I could have been out of the house; locking the door was only available from the inside — thus: Benny was home. Next, I did a thing for which I cannot explain the rationale, only the motivation — and that was: comfort. I stepped back from the door, continued to hear my friend’s voices nearing, and I crouched down in my bedroom closet like a child.
I sat their, in the dim space, my sweaters and shirts hanging down around my head, and I hid. From the circumstance, from my friends; in a room that was inaccessible, in a hiding spot that was highly visible, I hid. The (very nice, very sweet, and only trying to bite me with her affection) ice zombie had come and I made for the pillars and escaped.
They called out to me, then they knocked, waited. They tried the door. “He must be asleep,” someone said, but I could hear the doubt in their voice. Not long after their attempts at entry, I heard the conversation recede, then I heard my name less, then I heard the girl leave. I exited the closet.
That evening I explained the circumstance to my roommates, abashed. Then I explained the grander circumstance and they empathized. I wouldn’t dare compare myself to the One Ring, but if you take the precious away, the precious only becomes more desirable. Not too long later —a week perhaps— the grander circumstance was resolved. The girl and I remained friends.
All of this is to say, reader, that I think I take comfort in small, confined spaces. Like claustrophobia, but the other way. Like swaddling for babies.
The lesson of this realization is indeterminate — for you to ponder.
Thank you and apologies,
B.F. Greeno, aka
Wrap me up forever