It's a black and white photograph of a beautiful Scandinavian woman and her blond children, a boy and a girl. They are posed Leibovitz-style, standing in a bathtub in a worn white bathroom. The mother has one hand on each child's shoulder. All three are dressed in pristine tennis whites and stare straight ahead, smiling and looking genuinely happy. The picture stays this way—still, so still—for a long time, its subjects looking flawless, immaculate, loved. Then the image begins to fade very, very slowly until it's gone.
I do not know this woman. I am not her; she is not anyone I have ever aspired to be. Yet the dream grieves me. The sadness presses down on me until it forces me awake, leaving behind a physical ache that lasts for hours.
A shocking image forms, fading up quickly out of the dark. It's a one-light art gallery video, showing the head of an angry, mean-looking woman with ugly glasses and stringy, greasy, bowl-cut dark hair.
The woman is trying to bite at a disembodied hand. The very real index finger darts at her and the hand flies about her head as if were animated. Unable to catch or stop the finger, she grows more and more enraged.
Finally, the woman snatches the finger with her teeth and bites the end off. She chews the finger stub heartily. The bloody disembodied hand flutters about in a panic and flies away. She almost smiles, chewing and swallowing, her expression sickening yet satisfied. The image goes grain before it disappears. I wake discomfited.
A light pops on to illuminate a folk art painting, a flattened image with colors too bright and lines too bold. The painting illustrates a street corner, one leading into the town where I grew up, the corner at the top of the one-and-only hill where the railroad tracks lead to the roundhouse. It's not my neighborhood, or even a part of town where I spent time. The image doesn't move, but a lonely car, a rounded, garish mid-century sedan that appears to have escaped from the pages of a storybook, travels through it.
The image is so vivid and distorted that it takes me a long time to recognize it as somewhere familiar. I've never seen my hometown that way; I've always looked at it as a rather dreary Dickensian sort of place. This time, the image cheerfully flips and rolls and finally sails away into the darkness, which makes me feel good, but I don't know why.
It starts with a moving picture, an image that floats slowly down an ornate paneled hallway. The image moves through a doorway with a row of carved pegs on the top, like one in an English country house. Beyond the door is a library, its carved shelving reaching floor to ceiling. The stacked shelves are stand close to see around the corner, and too tall to see the top, but there is a sense of immensity, endlessness.
There is a desk at the corner of the main aisle, near the middle of the room. Standing next to the desk is an elf, dressed in a blue satin robe and a tall, pointed sorcerer's hat. On the desk, a quill waits. He is joyous, jubilant as a child, as he takes off his hat and bows deeply to the sacrosanctity that surrounds him.
This dream makes me smile.
Kim Hutchinson is a writer and a filmmaker. She loves writing, humor, Twitter and Klondike bars.