In the jumbled, fragmented memories I carry from my childhood there are probably nearly as many dreams as images from waking life. I thought of one which might have been my earliest remembered nightmare. I was probably about four years old - I don't think I'd started school yet - when I woke up screaming. The image I retained of the dream, the thing which had frightened me so, was an ugly, clown-like doll made of soft red and cream-coloured rubber. When you squeezed it, bulbous eyes popped out on stalks and the mouth opened in a gaping scream. As I recall it now, it was disturbingly ugly, not really an appropriate toy for a very young child, but it had been mine when I was younger, at least until I'd bitten its nose off, at which point it had been taken away from me. At the time when I had the dream I hadn't seen it for a year or more - I don't think I consciously remembered it until its sudden looming appearance in a dream had frightened me awake.When I told my mother about the dream, she was puzzled.'But what's scary about that? You were never scared of that doll.'I shook my head, meaning that the doll I'd owned - and barely remembered - had never scared me. 'But it was very scary,' I said, meaning that the reappearance of it in my dream had been terrifying.My mother looked at me, baffled. 'But it's not scary,' she said gently. I am sure she was trying to make me feel better and thought this reasonable statement would help. She was absolutely amazed when it had the opposite result and I burst into tears.Of course she had no idea why and of course I couldn't explain. Now I think - and of course I could be wrong - that what upset me was that I'd just realized that my mother and I were separate people. We didn't share the same dreams or nightmares. I was alone in the universe, like everybody else. In some confused way, that was what the doll had been telling me. Once it had loved me enough to let me eat its nose; now it would make me wake up screaming. (My Death)
Lisa Tuttle
It's like Romeo & Juliet,' I say. 'You can't separate them. Otherwise, there would be no Shakespeare.' Silence. I decide to be more straightforward. I tell him, 'Nothing frightens me anymore. I am not even afraid to die.' Bussey's eyes, already wide open, grow even wider. My death is the last thing he needs. I have the strange feeling that there are two of me. One observes the conversation while the other does the talking. Everything is abnormal, especially this extreme calm that has taken me over. I try to explain to Bussey that if I decide to die, it will be without bitterness. I know I did everything I possibly could, so it will be respectful farewell. I will bow to life like an actor, who, having delivered his lines, bends deeply to his audience & retires. I tell Bussey that this decision has nothing to do with him, that it is entirely mine. I will choose either to live or to die, but I cannot allow myself to live in the in-between. I do not want to go through life like a ghost. 'Do you think you'll find Danny this way?' Bussey asks. My mind sifts through all available theories on the afterlife. It is as if this metaphysical question has become as real as the air we breathe. Buddhism teaches that life is an eternal cycle without beginning or end. I recall the metaphor: Our individual lives are like waves produced from the great ocean that is the universe. The emergence of a wave is life and its abatement is death. This rhythm repeats eternally. Finally I answer Bussey, 't think so.' Bussey seems relieved, but I am more panicky, because I had never thought that I could wind up alone. In my mind, whatever the odds, Danny & I were & would be together forever.
Mariane Pearl