That evening before Chelsea went to bed, she thought about her day. She thought about how unhappy she was in her job, yet she didn’t know what else to do. She worked in an office and she liked office work, but this particular office was not in an area of knowledge that she wished to grow in. How could she bring more meaning into her life? How could she make the pieces fit together? She slowly drifted off to sleep and she began to dream.
She saw a dark figure. It was a man in a raggedy black raincoat. He wore a purple top hat, pointy black shoes, and carried a red umbrella. He came towards her using his red umbrella like a cane with his head held high. Chelsea asked, “Do I know you?” He had been whistling a strange tune that she couldn’t make out. He stopped whistling when she asked the question. “My name is Milton and you must be…Chelsea.”
“Why am I here?”
“Somehow your path has crossed with someone else’s and it is the soul of that person that has brought you here. It is not important who that soul is. However, it is very important that you heed what I am about to tell you.”
“Is this your dream or is it my dream?”
“It is your dream, Chelsea, but it seems this soul has been trying to use your dreams because you both have something in common.”
“And what is that?”
Those were the last words she spoke that night.
The morning sunshine pushed itself through the window as the breeze caressed Chelsea’s cheek. She stretched, reached for her slippers and went down to make coffee. She sat at the small kitchen table waiting for the coffee to brew. She sat and rested her chin on her palms, in a daze, sensing that she had a strange dream but unable to remember. She stood up. The aroma of coffee filled the kitchen causing Chelsea to perk up. She poured a cup and got ready for her workday. But first, she would write.
At work, she settled into her desk; then noticing the calendar, as if for the first time, she began to daydream slightly. “Chelsea, Chelsea?, hey Chelsea!” She didn’t know how long she was sitting there before she heard her boss calling for her. It seems she was there an eternity, but only moments had gone by and she had entered into a waking dream state. She went into her boss’s office, received his instructions, and went back to her desk. Though her job wasn’t difficult, she often felt like a tired old car puttering along going through the same passionless motions each day.
That evening when Chelsea settled into bed, she began reading a book. She couldn’t focus, so she put the book away. She decided to pull a single tarot card from her deck. It had been a while since she had pulled a card. This was a ritual that she had done in the mornings for a time. She flipped the bed covers off, went to her bookshelf and picked up the tarot cards and a book that she liked to consult. With the cards and book in hand, she entered the kitchen, sat at the table and began to shuffle the cards. She closed her eyes, concentrated on the day and also concentrated on any sort of general guidance on her life that might accompany her in her dreams. She opened her eyes and fanned the cards out on the table. She closed her eyes again, passed her hands above the cards, going back and forth, until she had a feeling and chose a card.
There looking back at her: The Emperor. A powerful card, representing the “universal principle of power and leadership.” She held the card in her hand and gazed at the reds and yellows that were like a sunset ablaze; the Emperor exuded strength. It was a card she did not feel worthy of, yet she knew it had something to offer.
She read the full description from her tarot book and wrote in her journal. She flipped the pages of her journal and saw all the unfinished ideas: beginnings of essays, stories, and poems. What she didn’t see there was the children’s book in her mind’s eye. She had gone over the small bits, playing them over and over in her head, trying to visualize the words and how an illustrator would bring the images to life. Something was holding her back. She closed her journal and dragged herself off to bed.
Tap. Tap. Tap. It was the sound of the man’s cane. She approached him just as he was sitting down at a round table to have a cup of coffee.
“Well there you are,” he said. “Please do sit down.”
“I feel a little out of sorts.”
“Do you remember?”
“How you got here.”
She rubbed her eyes. “I know that I’m dreaming…I don’t want to wake up just yet. I know I can’t control it. I couldn’t remember when I woke up, but now—
“Try to concentrate. I want to know how you happened upon this same space.”
“Alright. I’ll try. Give me a moment…I see something…yes, I’m at work. I’m standing in front of my calendar at work, gazing into the month of October. The image was of a white horse flying across the October sky with a champagne moon in the distance. I heard the phone ring; at the same time my boss was calling me. As I started to turn, I felt something touch my hand and a cool chill ran down my body. The last thing I heard was the pounding of a stapler from the far office. I looked up at the calendar and then I felt a pull and I fell through the page.
It wasn’t like swirling through a dark tunnel; it was more like sparkling leaves shimmering on a windy day, and the sun shining like a large crystal and then all went dark. I saw a familiar neighborhood. I looked around the rain-covered pavement of uneven cobbled shapes. I heard a voice, not your voice, a different voice. And then I saw you.”
“Ah, yes, the voice. That my dear, Chelsea, is the voice of a soul who has become entwined with your own, and that’s what I was beginning to tell you before you left. But this is your last visit to this particular dream world. I saw that you brought your tarot cards out before you went to sleep.”
“Bu—how did you know that!”
“Chelsea, we haven’t much time. I can only share with you the information that is relevant for your trip back. Now tell me what the voice says.”
He says, ‘In life, October has always been his favorite month. He feels like he’s locked in one of Dante's circles, in the sense that he would repeat and repeat some motion, some journey, each and every night in search of his soul.’ She stops.
“Go on,” he urges.
“And then he answers my thoughts and says, ‘ how is it that I am able to communicate this to you, you wonder? Well, I can't explain it completely myself, except to say that in your sleep, I enter your dream space at night. I know you’re a writer you see, and there is one other connection. As a little girl, you were surrounded by cats—lots and lots of cats. You understood them, and they understood you. The car you drive is your late grandfather’s car. It was left to you. That's the other connection. Every night I try to unlock my soul through you. You have become entwined with my life...life. You have become entwined with my connection to the world of the living. You hold my soul locked inside of you, as you also hold your own soul—locked away. The only way that I can be free is by your writing about me. And you must remember: My connection to you is a bit of a fluke, you see. It’s a connection where my soul became lost and locked onto your connection to your grandparent’s. It is a purely emotional connection.’
She has been speaking quickly and energetically, which is unlike her character.
Chelsea lets out a deep sigh and hunches over, looking into the man’s large eyes.
“His path has crossed yours for another common reason. He was a failed writer in life. Only it was not his writing—it was his own thoughts. It’s a sort of spell, a spell of self-infliction. It is the spell of self-doubt. He senses that in your own soul and before you leave this dream world, you must remember…and when you begin your day, you must take heed of the clue that “wakes” you up. In a way, you have become one with this other soul. If you strive for your potential, his soul, and yours for that matter, will be at peace.”
“I will try my best. I don’t want to leave here. And you say I won’t be back to this particular dream space?”
“That is correct. We may meet again in another dream, but you won’t recognize me as such. You will have a feeling, a feeling that you know me, but chances are, you will have forgotten. We can only remember what we need to at any given moment. It’s a cycle that continues and continues until we’ve moved through our life’s lessons.”
“Yes, I know that feeling all too well. Ah, another commonality. Sometimes the facts are bumping right up against our noses and still we don’t always see.”
“Farewell, my dear, Chelsea.” The man tipped his hat, got up from the chair and began walking down the dark cobbled streets into the darkness, whistling a strange tune.
When Chelsea woke that morning, she felt exhausted. She went through her morning routine. As she approached her car, she noticed little markings around the edges of the rooftop. It appeared as though someone took a flower stamp and stamped pollen flowers all over the car’s edge. She thought nothing of it, opened the door of the car, and plopped down on the seat. She looked ahead as she started the engine and she saw the same prints on her window.
Now she could clearly see they were cat prints. “So that’s what those markings are,” she said out loud. As she waited for the car to warm up, she felt a smile form on her face. She remembered how every morning she would run up to her grandmother’s house, two doors away, and the first place she would go after kissing her grandmother was the backyard to sit with all the kittens and cats. She was a child of nature. She sat in her pink nightgown and robe and placed as many kittens on her lap as she could. She would pet them and cuddle with them and speak to them and tell them all about the morning of adventure she had planned. Her grandparent’s home was her paradise.
Chelsea snapped out of her reverie. She started to have a vague remnant of a dream she had the previous night. It was fuzzy. She kept hearing a voice. Right now though, in this moment, the voice that she heard was of her grandmother telling her to study hard. Her grandmother had always believed in her. Though, Chelsea hadn’t finished college, she felt that she had gained something special in the many college courses that she took and from the people she had met along the way. She didn’t have a plan or focus. She always liked too many things to choose just one. The constants in her life were writing, learning, and reading. She sensed a strong presence from her dream but could not remember the dream itself. She had always struggled with self-doubt and she thought about this at this very moment and thinking of her journal pages. The veil of self-doubt must be moved. She felt a surge of energy. She released the brake and pulled out onto the road toward work thinking of the children’s book she would begin writing when she got home.