“Six Dreams that Might Not Be Dreams” by John Sheirer


(1) As a child, he often dreamed of being chased by a mummy. He was running as fast as he could through the woods while the mummy was staggering slowly, tripping over roots and stones, bumping into trees, holding its arms in front of itself like a bad movie cliché. Even so, the damned thing was still catching up to him.

(2) As an adolescent, he sometimes dreamed about falling from a high cliff near the rural church his family attended. In the real world, the cliff was only about four feet high, and the kids jumped off of it on a dare after an hour of listening to the minister negotiate for their eternal souls. In his dream, the cliff was hundred of feet high, thousands, maybe bottomless. He didn’t scream as he fell, but instead squeezed his eyes shut on the way down, feeling himself accelerate and expecting to hit the ground and die. Instead, he awoke with his eyes shut so tight that his whole face hurt.

(3) His last year of high school, he dreamed of playing softball at recess between classes. It was weird to think that they actually still had recess in twelfth grade, but his school was different that way. The last day of the school year, he hit a home run that went so far the outfielders searched for five minutes but couldn’t find the ball.

(4) He once dreamed of getting five root canals at the same time, all on his upper right side. The dentist kept asking how often he brushed, why he took so long between dentist visits, what he thought his teeth would look like when he reached middle age. Did he even want to have his own teeth when he was an old man, the dentist demanded to know.

(5) Even after years of teaching hundreds of classes, he dreamed that he was sitting at the desk in front of a classroom full of students who weren’t paying attention to him and even actively ignoring him. He was about to try to get their attention and get the lesson back on track when he realized that he was naked from waist down.

(6) Halfway up Mount Washington, he dreamed something popped in his foot as he stepped from one rock to another on the rugged trail. This was the first time he had tried to climb this mountain, and it was also going to be the last time because he was getting too old for shit like this. He wasn’t sure if he should limp back down the bottom half of the mountain or limp the uphill half to the top. The only thing he knew for sure was that his foot really hurt, and he would never do this again.


John Sheirer lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wonderful wife Betsy and happy dog Libby. He has taught writing and communications for 26 years at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut, where he also serves as editor and faculty advisor for Freshwater Literary Journal (submissions welcome). He writes a monthly column on current events for his hometown newspaper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and his books include memoir, fiction, poetry, essays, political satire, and photography. Find him at JohnSheirer.com

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