If you should go to sleep one night, and find yourself having a certain, horrific dream, you should dispose of that special blanket that’s been yours since you were a baby. And here’s why.
All dreams are prophetic. But mostly we forget what we dream, so when the dreamt event comes to pass, we don’t appreciate the fact that we had been given forewarning. We experience déjà vu when we do remember.
Remember that if you should have a horrific dream one night, wherein that special blanket decides to speak—likely it will speak with your mother’s voice (Don’t ask me why)—then, and this happens quite a lot, it will smother you, because you didn’t listen. It was telling you to give up that special blanket. She was telling you to give it up, that you were too old. But now you haven’t listened, and it is covering your face, suffocating you, and you’ll see parts of your life flash before your eyes, and your heart will jangle in your chest. Then, most of the time, you’ll wake up and things will be fine.
And you’ll take the blanket and throw it away. Like a bad nightmare, you’ll forget it.
But the blanket isn’t really what’s important, is it? Let’s say that blankets represent pillows, or towels, or items of clothing. Maybe a coat?
Let’s say that one day, you’re at a party. You leave your coat in the room on the bed with all the other coats. Then you proceed to enjoy yourself. You drink a lot, more than you think you do. It’s late. You go into the room with all the coats and someone’s sleeping in the bed.
Maybe this is the wrong room? No, there’s your coat, lying on their feet. You put it on, because it’s cold out. And you go home, because it’s late. And it isn’t until a few days later that you hear about the person at the party who died.
People thought he was sleeping, apparently. He snuggled down among all the coats on the bed. Everyone went in and took their coat quietly, so as not to wake him up.
Isn’t it weird how dreams work? How in the pocket of your coat that you took off the feet of a dead person, you find twenty dollars you don’t remember putting there?
Isn’t it funny how, when you take your mother out for lunch later, you pay for it with that twenty-dollar bill? And how you suddenly feel like you’re suffocating when she hugs you later? How the fabric of her sweater reminds you of your old blanket? How it’s the same color?
Now if you hadn’t taken that blanket and thrown it out like I told you to, then when you go home after lunch and look at it, you’ll see that it’s not actually the same color as your mother’s sweater. Also, it has a totally different texture.
Maybe it isn’t the real blanket? Maybe it got switched with someone else’s? Maybe your mother isn’t the person you thought. Maybe she was switched too?
Maybe…maybe you were asleep on a bed with coats during a party. People come in and take their coats, one after the other. They take them gently from you, even though you don’t want to give them up because you’re so cold. “Don’t take it. Don’t take it,” you say, but they do. And now, you’re frozen solid.
So maybe this was supposed to be you on the bed with the coats, but because you took my advice and threw away your special blanket, you somehow sidestepped fate.
Maybe this is a dream and you’ll wake up soon. I suppose the only way to know for certain is if, when you wake up, you can’t find your special blanket. That must mean you’ve thrown it out.
I hope you’re not too cold. You’ll freeze without a coat.
Clarion West is a nonprofit 6-week work shop for writers of speculative fiction. I attended with seventeen other students in 2015. They rented a house for us, prepared us fantastic meals, and got in some of the luminaries of the spec fic world to live in the house each week with us and workshop the stories we wrote. Every Thursday other writers came to hang out for an hour and talk to us or answer our questions on the craft and business of writing. Two of these who really stand out in my memory were Ted Chiang, who wrote the story that the movie Arrival is based on, and then we also had the chance to skype Neil Gaiman. I came away having crammed at least 6 years of study into 6 weeks.
Anyway, the write-a-thon is the main yearly fundraiser. This week sponsorships are being matched. If you’re a fan of fiction in any way shape or form, this workshop is one of the places fiction comes from…because writers don’t grow on trees.
More famous writers than I are offering to name characters after people who donate.
Or you can sponsor me.