On Ishtar’s Dream

“I had a very strange dream,” Addy says out loud. Her co-workers- who- happen-to-be-her-friends are interrupted in the middle of their conversation. There is an awkward pause. Addy breaks her gaze from the window that offers her a view of an intense street lamp flooding the darkened parking lot. She is now met with vacant stares.

“You really like being the center of attention don’t you?” Devorah folds her taut arms in protest of this strange utterance. She stares right at her while Nadine slides deeper into the corner. “We were just talking about Nadine’s problem with trust and—”

“I’m sorry, Nadine. I didn’t mean to interrupt… I thought the drinks would be watered down, but they didn’t hold back today, eh? Ha-ha….anyway…. I’m sorry, please, continue.” She turns towards Nadine, who was sitting right next to her, leaning from the wall to a more upright position.

“It’s ok Addy.  There’s really not much to say anymore…” Nadine brushes aside her frazzled hair; her thick glasses making her look thinner than usual, even if she had brought out her baby blue turtleneck.  “I’m sort of curious about your dream now, though. Go on then tell us, what’d you see?” She folds her arms on the table, placing the side of her face towards, Addy. Sangria, untouched.

“This dream, umm, well I—I don’t know. It felt real, but it was still strange.” Addy said turning her head to the left, placing both her hands on her cold screwdriver, which had a little straw sticking out of it for easier access.

She observed around the remaining guests at Spinning Jennys. This place was usually empty, had cheaper drinks and a very low-key feel to it. The ambiance was relaxing and the music was soft enough so each of them could actually hear one another and carry a conversation without yelling. It was perfect to have a mid-week drink and sometimes they needed it very badly. Today, it had pretty much flat lined… no one was there. The red-haired waitress who was featureless otherwise had migrated into the dark corner, silently counting down the time, probably hoping to close early.

“What does that mean?” Devorah’s loopy earrings were dangling from her tall, frizzy hair. She was wearing a black-and-white low cut dress which was embroidered by floral arrangements. Her vodka, with a thimble of soda water, had a half-lemon floating at the top.

“Well, I’m going to talk about this dream, so, umm, I would love for you both to analyze it ok? It’ll be our little thing.” Addy is nervously twitching at her pony-tail, struggling with her gray pantsuit; she wishes that she had another costume, comfort is key.

“Ok, go on now” Devorah rubs her hands slowly.

“Yes,” Nadine said, leaning forward to get her ears closer, her hands hidden beneath her sleeves.

“I dreamt I was sleeping in my room…mauve sheets and all, right? The dream starts and I wake up. There is a knock on the door, and this isn’t a knock, knock.  This is more like gunshots, a car backing up, etc…. anyway, the door opens up and there’s this handyman. I don’t remember what he looks like but he was a handyman because he said he was, at least… so he says to me ‘I’m here to clean the walls because they are greasy’ …so I look around and surely enough the walls are oozing green blood.”

“Wait, how did you know it was blood?” Nadine asks, she is genuinely curious, hanging on to her every word.

“The corners were stained, rusted. Like how blood dries up.”

“I’m curious too, now.  Continue.” Devorah said, finger-tapping close to her mouth, like a praying mantis, breaking down the dream into its component parts.

“He brings in this gigantic mop and bucket, and he has this duffel bag in between his armpits. The mop basically looked like its head was made by elongated spider legs and the bucket had these noxious-looking bubbles forming and I assumed it would’ve smelled really bad. Anyway, he brings it in, and  he gives me his card, I don’t remember what it said but I ask him how long it will take and he says to me: ‘it will only take a second’. So, umm, he starts cleaning the ooze off the wall. He brings out a ladder from somewhere, don’t ask me how it’s there— it’s just there— and he starts cleaning the corners. He places this bag in the middle of the room, so my bed is like in the far corner, on the right of the door and diagonally opposite corner is the Handyman doing all the fixing…so, he’s up on the ladder and he asks me to ‘get a tool for him…it’s in the bag ’. I get off my bed and I go into the bag and there is nothing there…I tell him that, and he says to ‘look again’. I go deeper. Deeper.  Still, there is nothing. Deeper again. and then I feel something…I grab a hold of it, I don’t know what it is, and then I pull it out— it’s a video tape.”

“Sounds like a very 90’s dream” Devorah laughs, she has just retrieved her phone that was vibrating through her white purse, and now she is checking her text messages. The blue light makes her look much older.

“Ha-ha,” Nadine represses her laugh to accommodate Addy’s feelings she knows how sensitive she can be.  On her part, Addy was a little hurt but she was drunk enough to not care, even if they weren’t paying any attention to her.

“The videotape had a name on it, it was called: ‘Ishtar’s Dream.’” Addy says. “So the Handyman climbs down from his ladder. The walls were clean now, magically, of course, and he says to me: ‘Have you seen Ishtar’s Dream?’ I didn’t know if this was a movie or something so I asked him what was on that tape? And he’s like: ‘It is someone else’s dream and I wanted to give it to you for free’. I’m completely freaked out at this point, I tell him I don’t want it, he asks me: ‘Why?’ and I say I don’t have a VCR.”

All of them chuckled.

“Ha-ha. I thought he was a handyman and now he’s giving dream recommendations?” Nadine asks.

“It’s a dream, people’s motivations change, there are continuity problems and they tend to make no sense. Ha-ha, that’s why I’m asking you guys, right? Anyway, he recommends it to me. He is, at this point, pitching to me, not only that; he starts begging me to watch it, we’re talking on his hands-and-knees and he constantly says: ‘Everything you want to learn will be arranged for you; this is the way.’  I was at this point still not aware that this was a dream and this handyman was coming into my room and offering me a dream recommendation. He kept offering it to me and after a point, my curiosity just got the better of me, and I accepted the dream, or the tape rather.”

“Did you watch the tape? In your dream.”

“I didn’t… as soon as I accepted it, I woke up. I wish I could see it, I just wonder what truth would come out? What secret would be revealed? It’s such a shame. I awoke just before I could figure things out. If there was only a way I could just watch that tape, somehow…”

Devorah, who was still on her cell phone and simultaneously listening to Addy, is frantically looking up the contents of this dream. She puts it in the search engine.

“I found it, I found Ishtar’s dream.” Devorah proclaims.

“What? Really?”

“It was a short film directed by Geeta Gupta. Released about 10 years ago. It’s about a poet who adopts the names of the beloved he can never have. It won a bunch of awards”.

“Maybe, it was a sign for you to watch that movie.” Nadine nods her head.

“Yeah, it’s sounds interesting. I just don’t know how I could’ve had such a vivid dream.”

“I’m sure you don’t know,” Devorah says rolling her eyes.

“Wait, what is that supposed to mean?” Addy says staring at her.

“Well it really makes you sound interesting, doesn’t it? Your dreams giving you access to some mystical information… I just love how pretentious you are.”

“Hey, Devorah, that sounds exceptionally rude of you,” Nadine interjects.

Addy is a little shocked by this. She knows Devorah can be crude at sometimes but she was being very insensitive to her.

“I don’t need to defend myself to you. I’m just telling you what I dreamt, if you think I made it up… then there’s nothing I can say that will not make you think that.”

“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I just think you are trying too hard to be interesting. You keep telling us about your damn spirituality and all that new age stuff, which is great but I don’t believe it for one second. Even though I like you, I like how you are…you know?  Your regular self…so you don’t have to pretend that you’ve had this epiphanic dream that will change the course of your life.”

“DEVORAH!” Nadine screams. “Control yourself; there is a time and a place.”

“I’m going out for a cigarette,” Addy says in a silent manner.

“Oh, Addy, please don’t go out because of her…you know how she gets when she’s like this.”

Devorah quietly mutters to herself. Addy turns quickly and motions to the red-haired waitress that she’s just going out for a smoke. The waitress nods in apathy. While in earshot she hears Devorah and Nadine arguing with each other.

“You know how she is”, ” Well is it my fault she can’t handle the truth?”, “I know but you have to be polite”, “I’m sorry I say what’s on my mind and if people have a problem with it, it’s their problem… Besides she brought up the dream herself–”

Addy exits into the cool night. Her thoughts were bombarded with self-doubt. She admonishes herself, maybe it was not the best idea to expose herself like that. But it also felt cruel that her friends or co-workers -who- happen-to-be-her-friends felt like that. That she couldn’t share with them the truth about her dreams, her hallucinations without feeling judged and scrutinized like she was on trial.

She looks around her environment. Nicotine relief. Inhale with beauty. The parking lot is empty, it’s a Wednesday night and people have work tomorrow—It’s so quiet. It’s so peaceful. For a moment, it’s sublime. She thinks about the dream, about what Devorah said. Could she be right… was it all pretension? Was her need of being the center of everything that all-consuming? Did she remember the dream because she was tired of talking about Nadine’s trust issues or Devorah going on about how self-realized she was? Then there was the dream itself, could she have seen a reference to Ishtar’s dream somewhere else and it came in the dream at random? She took her time and cooled off. It was meaningless to be offended by this. The room where the dream happened was hers and hers alone and seeing life, this event of synchronicity was hers to keep. She would now keep the dream to herself, even if it was an incoherent whisper or an exaggerated story.

She goes back inside Spinning Jennys. There were some apologies made. Devorah did her best to be a little kinder but not apologizing fully. Addy was fine with this because she knew her too well. Nadine continued with their conversation by talking about her love of music and how she has found god. Addy and Devorah exchanged their trademark don’t-want-to-touch-that look, by taking a large swill of their respective drinks. They laughed a little harder, drank a little more and hugged each other. Eventually, they had to leave fifteen minutes after the last call as the red-haired waitress hovered over them reminding them of that fact. They split the bill three ways and left a very small tip. They would have left more but it’s not good to force someone to end a conversation just because it’s closing time.


© A.R. Minhas 2016

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