Monday, August 6, 2012


The last one was tacks. A whole bunch of tacks clicking together in my mouth, not stabbing me but filling it up and making it hard to breath. Pulling them out, scraping them off my tongue just caused more to take their places. Eventually I start to panic, trying hard to fill my mouth with air. When I open my eyes it is like coming up from water. I’ve been holding my breath. I gasp and start and fear more sleep.

Perhaps I said something biting, tactless. Or perhaps it was tactful but inappropriate. Maybe I just hurt someone’s feelings or got mad for no reason. If my dreams are another world, it is a cruel, cruel alternate universe.

I used to wear those invisalign retainers to bed, but I stopped because every night they would stack up like chinese dolls and I would spend dream hours pulling them out one by one. Knowing it was a dream, I would try and try, assuming that eventually I would pull out the actual one in my mouth and the panic would end. I usually woke up with my teeth clenched together and again, holding my breath. That’s when I stopped wearing them.

Then it was sand. Dirt. Something I scraped out of my mouth with my fingernails. I tried to get it out of the back of my throat, the inside of my cheeks, the spaces between my teeth. I’d force myself to breathe in my dream, but it was shallow and ineffective. I’d try to close my mouth around the substances and breath from my nose, but there was too much of the stuff. I’d awake with a sharp intake of breath and a shot up in bed.

The worst time it was just my tongue. It would swell and swell and swell until it was sticking out of my mouth, blocking my airway. I would try to bite it, or poke at it with my fingers to make room for air. My nose would feel clogged as well. These times could be a clear analogy of me talking too much or sticking my foot in my mouth. Waking up, realizing you’ve been clenching your jaw and not breathing, makes you want an explanation. I would search through every rotten thing I’ve ever done, looking for the words that caused the dream. I would stifle it.

Mostly I would just breathe. When I get angry, I try to breathe. When I’m arguing with someone, I try to breathe. Revenge will come to me if I say those words. If I’m impulsive. It is amazing how pleasant of a thing breathing is when your body revolts against you in the night. And you don’t know why. So perhaps you just stop talking.

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