11 and 12

Written September 12, 2001

I’ve never thought that the sounds of aircraft would seem eerie, but at 2:30 am on Wednesday, September 12, 2001, when every commercial flight across America was grounded for at least 7 more hours, it was very creepy indeed. Fighter planes, obviously, flying formation over Seattle. “Pardon our noise,” I remember a sign outside of the Whidbey Island Navy Air Base reading, “It’s the sound of freedom.” A life long civilian, I felt as if I was walking into a forest with my big bruiser brother in front of me, reassuring over cracking knuckles that the ghosts won’t make it past.

I was frightened awake by a creepy dream, the oddest thing being the sense of eeriness that usually dissipates following awakening from such a dream never really faded away as I lay in the darkness listening to the far-off jet aircraft. The streets were dead silent. When I did hear a car drive by, it seemed out of place, and it dawned on me that this is what Marshall Law would sound like. A freight train in the yards by Myrtle Edwards Park blew its horn and clacked by. In Elliot Bay a Navy frigate stood guard over the port of Seattle.

In my dream the young wife of a graduate student was sent with him on assignment to Pakistan.

“My god, I didn’t know they were going to send us anywhere that there were beggars.” She had said to him when they had arrived, driving along dirt roads. Her tone wasn’t one of imperialism distancing itself from suffering, but naïveté seeing through it’s own veils. Wait, graduate student? No, that doesn’t seem right… Maybe a freshmen member of the state department?

I heard his bosses commenting in voice over on how many of the young people in similar situations end up sending their wives & families home early. “It’s just too much to ask of them,” one dream pundit said “They end up paying anything they need to in order to get them home early.” Luckily the salary of my dream couple was very high. He could afford to send his wife home ahead of him, should she find the environment too overwhelming.

Was my fictional dream couple representations of anxiety in world trade? A symbol of charity in the face of outrageous oppression? Whatever they were, they lived in a small village. Did I say state department? Maybe it was Peace Corps. She was helping thresh some wheat, when her young male friend, a local — was she having an affair? Did the streets around her confuse her into feeling inhuman? — took her back to the house. Her mother was there in the basement moaning and mumbling incoherently.

“Mom?” my dream wife said. Was she my wife, this woman? She ventured down the stairs into the cold basement where white chipped paint clung to the cool cement walls and wood framed windows. She could see her mother swaying in center of the room, but she couldn’t pinpoint her accurately. She couldn’t get her on the radar enough to go to her, she was confused, frightened. “Mom, I’m getting sleepy.” She said in a disconcerting sing-song voice. She was certain that an odorless gas had leaked into the basement, and her mother had fallen victim to it.

She climbed the stairs again, feeling that she needed oxygen, and came back down bravely after gulping a few breaths. But now she couldn’t see her mother. The world lost shape around her as she thought she was succumbing to the mind-warping gas. “Mother?” she said out of fear, trying to find her quickly amongst the blurry confusion that enveloped her — trying to bravely reach her mother before she inevitably passed out too. She could hear her Mother’s disconcerting mumble. “Mother…” she called louder, her peripheral vision closing in like nylon around her face. She groped out into the space, still thinking she could save them both. She placed all of her reserves into a blind stumble around the room, hoping that she could find her in time to drag them both up the stairs.

“Mother!” she cried, but her final call was different. Instead of reaching out, now she wanted help. It was a desperate call for comfort and salvation as her vision narrowed, her head lightened, and she fell victim to the darkness she was powerless to fight.

Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: September 11, 2006 08:56 PM
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