It starts always with the emotion of happiness. The settings and the occasion do vary from time to time, though most often I find myself walking along a path that crosses sunlit prairie. I am in the company of my family and, not unrealistically, we've embarked on a nature pleasure-outing. The afternoon is accentuated with games and smiles and laughter and in the heat of the day, our love is so bright that I am swaddled in it all, in comfort and warmth, and most heartbreakingly of all, in security. And when our mutual happiness has risen until the landscape gleams with golden brilliance I take on a sudden urge to demonstrate how deeply I love them. I decide that I should confess to them my secret: I have recently gained the impossible ability to fly. At their spurring my modesty is quickly overcome and soon I am eager to showcase my new talent. As I manage to reach what I designate a sufficient height, I turn in the air pridefully, expecting awed faces and peals of delight.

What I actually see is so horrific that in the time it takes to draw the breath that supplies the scream, the beautiful world I envisioned is stripped bare.

All that does remain—or perhaps, all that I will allow myself to see—are the crumpled carcasses that used to be my family. Sometimes they have been disemboweled, other times, their throats slit to the bone. But what never changes is the desperate manner in which I plunge myself back to the surface, the bone-jarring thud that serves to remind me that the ground is hard but it is also slippery where the combination of blood and tears and urine and excrement have pooled and mixed with the earth.

Gradually, I will become aware of a presence on the edges of my mind. I would feel it there, watching, that thing that seeks my death, that lured me back to the earth with death. Before I can ever register the eminent danger, I lunge at him with unbridled fury, overconfident that my anger alone will give me the strength to rip him apart with my bare hands. When I reach him though, my blows affect him much like a fly does a glass window, and there is a deep rumbling noise—the sound of masculine amusement at my humiliating weakness. Before he can reach out for me I have already fled to the skies, and what lay beneath me are not the golden fields of the prairie but an empty sad-land, a horrible gray world that replaced it.

It starts always this way so that I could really warn myself ahead of time the danger that lurks just around the corner—but even in my lucid state, I am too happy to care. I think, this time will be different. This time, it will end on the same note of sunshine and rainbows and waving green grass. It is always the same sentiment, and it ends—without fail—in

Dream

Me—inadequacy story

Ball of light—everything is going to be okay

Back to dream—walk out the door and into the morning