Another day, another several bucketfulls of puke. Let me tell you, getting honked at while your ass is sticking out in traffic as you hold the bowl for your horking kid because he actually warned you in time for you to pull over? Sucks. Having to put him in the car in the first place because there’s no one else to get your other kid to school? Sucks. Washing more bile-soaked towels? Sucks. Watching him shake and groan? Sucks. Realizing you’re out of pedialyte? Yeah.
And it all sucks that much harder because we had been on a real upswing, and I had dared to hope the medicine was working and we might have this thing under control after all. I was starting to believe he might be ok, just with a bummer condition but nothing really truly awful.
I had had a nice little getaway weekend with my oldest and dearest friend, and was feeling renewed and refreshed as only that kind of extended girl-time can do. When I got home in the evening, my children seemed particularly cherubic, all smiles and hugs and asking sweetly to be tucked in and read to. So when I had my clown dream last night — that’s right, you heard me, a bona fide, über-clichéd (I can hypenate two different languages like that, right?) clown dream — it really caught me off guard. Especially because I’m not particularly afraid of clowns. In fact, some of them are quite lovely. I have clown friends, even!
Anyway, yes, this is the part where I tell you my clown dream. So, sit down and enjoy, or grit your teeth, or scroll quickly past this next paragraph, or quit your browser and hit your computer with a flamethrower, whichever seems appropriate, because here goes:
I was at a wedding. Maybe a relative’s wedding, it was kind of vague. It was outside, nestled among some hills, very relaxed. Everyone was milling about, possibly waiting for the reception to start. I kept noticing a clown holding a bunch of helium balloons floating around in the air above us, but didn’t think much of it. (I mean, would you? An airborne clown at a nice wedding? Of course not!) Then I noticed him a little more, because his balloons were so colorful, and his goofy outfit, and oh yes, all that blood on his face. Suddenly and properly alarmed, I began to look around to see if anyone else was aware of this hovering menace and what kind of action we’d be taking. Only, it zinged straight towards me, in that sickening dream-speed way, and I could see its face quite closely, the little rivulets of blood streaking around the eyes, the open mouth of crimson teeth, and I knew it was going to attack me. I started kicking at it and flailing and generally just freaking the fuck out, and drew this deep, deeeeeeeeep breath because I knew I had to scream loud and I’d only have one chance.
And then I screamed.
And you know how sometimes in a dream you really hear something, really notice the exact sound of it, the timbre and the tone and whatnot? And then you realize it is something you’re actually hearing in the real world? Yeah. I was hollering. And then my husband was shaking me and then I was awake and thinking oh my WHAT? I had a clown nightmare? And then it seemed ridiculous, almost laughable, and my husband went back to sleep and then I accidentally pictured the dream again and oh man was that ever a mistake. And then my adrenal glands fired and there I was wide awake and freaked out at 2:30 in the morning, playing solitaire and trying not to think about clowns.
When my son called to me from bed later in the morning, I knew immediately from his voice that he was sick. I got to him and he was sweaty and shaking, unable to speak. But he pointed at his mouth, to show me what he needed. I ran with him to the bathroom, thinking, This is the clown, this is the fucking clown, the thing that scares me to my bones, floating in out of nowhere to destroy me. How did it know?
Some nightmares I can wake up from, shake off, even laugh at. Some stay with me, gnaw at me, if you will, for days or weeks or even years. This one? Has a choke hold. I feel paranoid, neurotic, insane. It’s just a dream. I keep telling myself, with every thudding heart beat, just a dream. It’s just. A dream. Buh-bum. Buh-bum. A dream.