Sunday, October 28th, 2001 2:00 pm (pandemo)
Under Construction -- The Recurring Dream
Why not walk in the aura of magic that gives to the small things of life their uniqueness and importance? Why not befriend a toad today?
-- Germaine Greer, (b. 1939), Australian feminist, writer. The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause, ch. 16 (1991).
As the sun sets her third night on the Stone Circles Reservation, Despina dutifully shows up at the campfire sans escort. Parking in the dirt by a rotting log, she addresses the recumbent Paul Peter.
"Do you remember the night I arrived?"
"I can assure you, I will NEVER forget it."
"Were you sober enough to remember the trip out here?"
"Parts of it... It's hard to think about," he admits, in a rare bout of honesty.
"What did you see in the cave?"
"You mean, the two old women?"
"Yes. Anything else?"
"Well, the fire."
"Lots of plants."
"She was a medicine woman."
"Maybe. They could have been that kind of plant." He pauses. "Cu's mother was the medicine woman. She died about three-four years ago. Supposedly quite a powerful person. She couldn't live with his father, so I've heard."
"Yes. She was Cu's mother. She talked to me that night."
"Yeah. Kinda cryptic, though."
"No, not in the cave. On the road. She guided me when I lost track of Cu's tail lights."
"Did you ever go back and look at where we drove in the daylight?"
"No, can't say that I did. I had more pressing matters to sleep off."
Switching tacks, she says, "Did you ever contemplate dreams as teaching techniques for how to or not to behave in certain circumstances?"
"No, can't say I ever have." Affecting disinterest in topics that are getting onto shaky ground, he rolls over and nods off.
Recognizing his sham, and accepting the reason behind it as a given, she still tries one more time to engage him. "I dreamed Cu for the past three years before I met him last weekend."
"I dreamed that his mom was dead, but that I meet her with a fellow teacher. Before you had ever worked here. Before I did. Two years before I knew you worked with Indian children during the summer last year."
"I wrote some of the dreams in this journal." She holds out a tattered, stained green journal, open to a page near the front.
Giving up, Paul Peter rolls over and takes the journal, leaning up on one elbow to read, spilling the fire light over the page. He starts with a date over three years old.
"He drives the jeep over the top of the mountain, following her directions, ending up stalling out on a steep slope. They disembark on the mountain side, grabbing a small, stunted tree to hold themselves on the mountainside. 'It's a bit steeper than I expected,' he said. She, too, grabs the tree, which bends under their combined weight, revealing a small opening. "Look, a cave." Both go in, and can see everything, the hearth with the fire burning, the medicine woman's accouterments in a natural niche in the stone wall."
Paul Peter stops. "This is really hard to read. You need to paragraph," he adds, handing it negligently back.
"It's a journal, for goodness sake, not a published work."
Bruno, who has been following the conversation intently, extends his hand. "Please?"
When Despina nods, he turns a few pages, then starts, tipping it toward the light. He reads the date, over two and a half years ago. The ink is faded. "Here one say no school. Incredible! I am here!"
"Yes. So is Horst. Not named. Almost nobody in the journal is named, but you can still recognize them, and the general situation. It's pretty spooky. At first, I just thought it was a weird coincidence, but things are matching up way too well.
"After the campfire last night, I dreamed the part about the school again. Not as it really happened, but as it is written somewhere in there, with one exception. The characters had names this time. Look at the end of the journal."
The date was last night's. The ink was vibrant.
The German read:
Dismayed, she gasped, "That's not a school! That's a bare plot!"
Eyes twinkling, Cu responded in Náhuatl, with Bruno translating, "Yeah, well, we're running a bit behind schedule."
Looking up, he adds, "You me flatter. I speak not the Náhuatl."
He continues reading:
"That seems to be epidemic in this part of the country."
Bruno's impeccably clipped British English sounded strange in these surroundings. "Actually, celebrating nature, being out in the great out-of-doors, is very appropriate for Indian students. Keeping/getting in touch with their heritage, and all that sort of thing."
He again breaks in at mention of himself, "I speak not so good the English. but is ideas I t'ink."
He continues reading:
"That's fine for you to say! You're teaching biology inside a building!"
"¿Qué, qué? ¿Hay un problema?" asked Cu.
"No, no hay problema. Voy a enseñar sin libros, sin escuela, sin materiales, y sin sueldo. No, no hay ningún problema."
Shaking his head, Bruno returns the journal. "He pays. He is honor."
Paul Peter breaks in, "Bruno's right. We get paid once a month, same as in Iowa. I know you have some post holes instead of a school building, but I didn't realize you didn't have books, either. I can see where that would be a problem. It's a good thing we go to the library on Friday."
She returns to her first topic. "After Cu looked at the jeep tracks, he came and got me, taking me to the cave area in daylight. He made me go up and over the top of the mountain, with scary drops all around, and no possible place where a jeep would fit with all the wheels on the ground, yet there were the marks of our passage. Then he wanted me to show him the cave, but I couldn't recognize anything.
"When we got to the tree, all these vines were blocking the entrance. Even though I knew where it was, I couldn't see it in the daylight, couldn't see it at all without her guidance. He ripped the vines out until the opening showed. The hole seemed smaller, tighter, than when PP and I used it. I don't know how someone Cu's size even fit.
"When we got inside, the only footprints were from PP and I, and there obviously had not been a fire in there, or plants, for a long, long time. He was genuinely angered when I told him I followed his mother's directions, that you, PP, and I saw and talked to his mother." She shivers as she finishes her broken narrative.
Paul Peter's muffled voice critiques her story, "You've been to too many Girl Scout Camps where everyone sits around the campfire and tells ghost stories to scare the younger children. This time, you're scaring yourself. So we found an old cave nobody had been in for years. The hills around here are honeycombed with them. Grow up. You're in a place unlike any other you've ever been in. Life is strange. You're coming in contact with people unlike any that you've ever dealt with before. Get used to it. Quit trying to turn it into a cosmic mystery." Standing, he kicks the nearly dead sagebrush fire apart and heads back to the hovels.
Last updated 6/29/03.