“Say the prayer”

6 Jan

There was a piece of rug with writing on it—two words, one on top of the other. When people would see that I had it, they would smile and say, “Say the prayer”—as if to be encouraging, as if in anticipation, like a good, expected thing would finally happen.

Not only didn’t I know what the rug was, or what they were talking about, or any prayer that related to the words, I felt chest-tightening terror that these people expected some words to have some power in themselves that would change our circumstance.

There was also a wedding. I was in the same building, in a long hallway punctuated by stairs down to the first floor, lined with mismatched chairs and occasional tables.

It was like a popular café opened a second-floor in-between space with an optimistic capacity, and carpeted it with an overlapping patchwork of rugs. In this weird space, where occasional great-aunts sat as responsive as the furniture, I saw the fragment of rug again.

I gathered the copious skirts of my dress, snatched up the piece of rug, and ran toward the brightness and noise of the wedding ceremony.  

It was a large room at the center of the strange second-floor hallway. People stood all around the center, and I ran in—the sound stopped, and I was interrupting. I blushed.

In the center of the room, in the center of the rug, there was a hole. The people realized I carried the fragment, and there were murmurs and smiles, and gestures toward the hole in the rug and the fragment still in my hand.

I heard the same anticipation and encouragement that frightened me before—but now, having just interrupted, in the middle of all of them, I felt I had no choice.

The people cheered and smiled and held their breath, and I put the fragment of the rug back in place.

It turned out that the two words on the fragment belonged to two different phrases. Their sense shifted, torqued—and I struggled to read the whole thing before the happy, delighted, celebrating people could recite it, together.

Tears came to my eyes as I finished reading, as realization began to dawn—my terror was justified.

The room brightened—and then I was in a different dream, assembling bamboo weapons for immediate export. Stephen Fry was irritated that I had been so slow, but he knew it was because of the ridiculous dress I was still wearing.

And that’s what my dreams are like.

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