I departed from the temple as quickly as propriety would allow. I think my haste surprised my friends.
I remember the wind blowing on the way from the temple building to the car, but it was probably blowing when I was out in the grove as well. Now I noticed because my inner self was bothered by something, and I could not tell what exactly it was. It was not the simple experience of seeing something I did not understand.
It seems impossible to write about my dream of Lady N without first attempting to describe her.
She was older than me. We were not lovers. Her eyes crinkled when she smiled. She dedicated as much time to a friend as they asked for; she just found things to do together. I once asked her what she would achieve in her life if she could choose one thing.
“Spiritual enlightenment,” she said. “And I would help people. Can I do two things?” I loved her for that answer. I wonder what she thought enlightenment would bring her.
She used to make constellations out of glass. They were mobiles and wind chimes made from melted whiskey bottles and mineral dyes. So we had forging and workshops and Renaissance fairs in common, and we traded tools and technique, and we taught each other.
She was kind to animals. She loved people, and she wanted love.
Ah, but she hated herself. She even said she did; I just could not believe it.
A few times I met her father. He kept a mental library of the same phrases, and my Lady N would always repeat them when she wasn't with him. Was she lonely for him? You still doing those stupid art projects? he would say, or, You don't know what art is, or, Art must be selling, you're getting kind of fat. I am sure I never heard them all.
Her father was an artist too, but of the stifled, unappreciated variety. I told her the things he said weren't true. But it was not my love or approval or acceptance that she needed. It was his.
In my dream I saw my Lady N dressed in robes like the priestess from the day's vision. But she was blindfolded, and instead of a sword or a sceptre she carried a shard of glass.
The demon Apep appeared and I understood that I was dreaming. Still I had no control.
Apep moved gently behind my lady. He was intimately close, and he took her hand as if he was helping a blind person. He guided it.
Blood welled up on her wrist, and I found the will to move.
I charged, grabbed at Apep, and my Lady N fell away and faded to nothingness. Oh my poor Lady N. If I could only hold on to her, even in a dream.
But the dream was not over, and I could not dwell on her, not presently. It seems that in trying to rescue her in the dream, I instead inherited her demon. At least, that is how I interpret the following events.
Apep did not fade away, and I did not wake up.
In a way that can only happen in dreams, Apep was suddenly a female. She caressed me, and in her caress I was paralyzed.
Now she pressed one of my own blades into my hand, just as she had done with the glass and my Lady N. Using my arm, my strength, she pressed the blade against my breast.
I can not put into words the fear this dream put into me. In that moment, fear became a sound, a vibration, and a color. I was sure I would die in that dream.
Then I woke up.
My chest beat twice its normal tempo, and I gasped for breath. I had shouted so loudly that the little steel bar in the doorbell box hummed in sympathy. Still ringing, it made enough sound that I could believe someone had pressed the doorbell. I was alone with the sound of the doorbell.
I stayed awake a while, but finally became weary and fell back asleep. It was against my judgement, but I was too drained to do anything else.
Now I had a new dream, but Apep was in this dream just as strongly. There appeared to be only sound and mist.
From the mist came a familiar sound, a long shhh like someone calling for silence, and also an electric hum. I could not place the sounds, but I knew them. I knew it would come to me.
Sometimes in the shhh I heard a female voice whisper my name.
I woke up late and wrote the dream down, as I try always to do with dreams. In reality, my Lady N had cut herself with a shard of glass, but had failed her attempt. She even criticized herself for that. What killed her was an aneurism.
The official report, as told to me, was that it was caused by chronic hypertension, which in turn was caused by her alcohol abuse. Her brother called to give me the news.
“I told 'er that stuff would mess her up.” he said. “Of course I'm one to talk.” I hung up the phone.
Some time after the dream of my Lady N, I went out to finish some blades I was working on. I turned on the belt sander and placed a blade against it, and that is when I remembered the sound.
The electric hum, the sanding shhh. I dropped the blade and did not pick it up again.