By Dolores J. Nurss

Volume III: Responsibility

Chapter 45




          In recent years I’ve dreamed, a number of times, of encouragement to fly, but those weren’t Til dreams.  Nevertheless, the gist of them fits here.  It’s something that the Don would do.  (I hope these dreams will someday drive away the others, the sad ones that mock me for flying, for good.)  I accurately portrayed the sense of flying in those happy dreams.

          I dreamed, as Zanne, of the encounter with Merrill, in the empty theater with the “lucky seats”.  I don’t recall, off the top of my head, another dream where Zanne loses it and just starts screaming at him.  Always before, in her conflicts with him, she has stayed icy cool, mocking, strictly in control.  And maintaining that cool, by any means necessary, became her downfall.

          I think this new dream shows a new degree of mental health.  She finally confronts what stands between her and Merrill, what has made their relationship toxic—which is not what I had guessed!  It has never been about her forgiving him, but about him forgiving himself.

          Merrill had always been, on the one hand, my imperative to action, the impish trickster dragging Don away from the books and out into the world, the dashing agent tricking nations into changing direction, the daredevil who finds a new, scary route when an enemy blocks the well-known safe routes.  But in recent years I’ve seen more and more of his insecure side, masked by his derring-do: the self loathing.  And that has obscured his core self, in my telling of his tale.

          In the waking world, as well, this has crippled me.  I don’t act.  I imagine great things, I talk about them, but the part of me that can actually do something about it can’t seem to function.  It feels the way a wolf with a broken spine must feel, who doesn’t even know about the nerves in his spine, and that these don’t work.  All he knows is that prey grazes near him, and he thinks, “Run legs, run!” and the legs don’t run, and he sees his food right in plain sight and yet he lies there starving to death.

          This dream tells me what has broken, what needs healed.  I waste my potential for action on gnawing over all my faults.  I fear to act lest I make still more errors.  It takes Zanne, raised in the worship of Truth, to point out that my virtues are also true.

          And what of her?  I have often called Zanne my Shadow side, living out everything I was told belonged only to Bad Girls.  Vain, cocky, utterly self-confident.  And normally cold when angered.  When I would try to defend myself  with logic while the rest of my nuclear family screamed at me, they would call me the Cold Bitch.  Maybe I was, but somebody had to counterbalance the idea that anger was just some uncontrollable force that swept through people sometimes, and that a legitimate excuse for saying awful things was, “Well, I just said that because I was angry.”  Except when I tried to use it, in which case I’d be told, “You said it so you must have meant it”—which, come to think of it, was a gift more than an injustice: it enabled me to realize that I could control my temper, and this gave me an advantage in life that the rest didn’t have. 

            Consciously, I dutifully felt ashamed of my coldness, yet deep down I valued it for my survival.  And I discovered that I could find really cruel things to say back to others, sharper when chiseled from ice than from fire.  It became part of my Shadow's repertoire.

          Yet, as I’ve said before, a neurosis is a habit that you learn to survive a bad situation, that goes on automatic and still keeps running long after it outlives its purpose, and in fact has become counterproductive.  I’ve tried to be all sweetness and light, but whenever anger stirs up my Shadow side I can turn cold, and that coldness stands in the way of actually confronting the things that make me angry.

          So it has become such a part of me that it has ceased to belong in my Shadow anymore, now that I’m an adult.  I don’t feel the same shame over it, nor try to prove the accusation untrue, breaking down and finally shrieking back.  Control has become my primary mode, and emotionality the rare, erupting shadow.  Yet, however overused the explosions, my family had a point when they said that sometimes you need a storm to clear the air.

          So finally, in my dreams, Zanne expresses the other side, the side that can shout, enabling her to actually talk to Merrill about what distresses her, instead of making all the little digs.  And to actually confront me, as well, for the need to stop tangling myself up in self-reproach.  Yes, my faults are real—but they’re not the only truths.

          (It seems so petty to record these minor childhood issues!  Adults move on.  Yet a crucial step in moving on is processing your experiences through dreams, remembered or not.  What I record here, principally for dream-researchers, is how that process has worked for me.  You don’t just decide to change, you must imagine it first, and you must become aware of what needs changed.  Dreams help this to happen.)

          In a later encounter, in another dream, I ran into Don, though I felt a bit confused when I recorded it, writing things like, “A vacation in something like Paris but not actually Paris,” (Darvinia) and “LA that might not be LA” (Novo Durango) and “San Diego that might not be San Diego” (Zanne’s childhood home, not mine.)  In my sleepiness, while writing the dream-notes down, I didn’t even make the connection that I actually discussed the Novo Durango Shuttle with Don!

          And no, Darvinia is nothing like Paris, except that it’s considered a romantic destination.  Nor does Los Angeles resemble Novo Durango, except for being a commercial hub.  And Zanne’s childhood home had no resemblance to mine.  Except, I notice, all of these have similar climates to their waking-world counterparts, but not the same vegetation, architecture, culture, layout, or anything like that.  Darvinia isn’t even a city, but a bucolic country, and neither is Zanne’s home a city, but a walled-off village patched together within academic ruins, with nary a canyon and only weeds for wild nature.  And of course Los Angeles is not across a gulf from San Diego!  In my dreams I knew all of these differences, yet still my mind, groping for names, gave them the waking-world labels.

          I dreamed of Don’s great joy at freshly regaining his ability to fly, conquering his fear, and offering me a flight across a gulf; in my dream he meant to take me to the Shuttle Station, to launch me on my next mission—solo.  But I, troubled about going off without Merrill.  I wanted to delay for one night and consult somebody about it, someone secret.  I felt a horrible homesickness at odds with being home.  Only on the verge of waking did I realize that I was Zanne, and that I wanted to find my father, Juliar Charlotte—if he still lived.

          When I woke I felt myself fill with the story of Zanne’s reunion with her father, which I wrote up and put in the Backstory section, as though the dream relentlessly continued with my eyes wide open.  The problem is, I don’t know for sure whether or not it actually happened.  (“Actually” in their world, that is.)  It might have been Zanne’s fantasy.  She lived a lot in fantasy in her last few years.  Everything else that Alroy said in that one, fateful encounter, has proven true.  So I can’t actually include it in this tale, though you can find it here ***.

          On the other hand, every so often I or others dream something that completely overturns my assumptions about the entire epic.  For instance, until the dream in this chapter, I had always assumed that Don never recovered from the trauma of the crash on The Isle of Curses to take up flying again.  I had not yet dreamed of him flying after that point, but now I might be able to have those dreams.  It’s really a lot like archaeology, this writing from dreams.  One fragment newly received can overturn years of theories mistaken for the truth.

          Why dream of it now?  To assure me that healing does happen, and that in fact it is happening.  To tell me to have faith in the process.  On a level long forbidden to me, I can fly!

          Such dreams can also be a pain in serial-writing like this, when you have to add stuff to chapters already written in advance, expand them beyond reason, and so must split them in two or more.  (And thank God for the inconvenience—Don can fly!)  This chapter and the last two had to split from a previously cohesive whole, because I had to squeeze in the Merrill and Zanne and Don dreams.  I fear they have weakened as a result, stretched a bit too much.

          Yet I get the feeling that these new factors matter, that I must write them in so that they can foreshadow something that I will write later, though I don’t yet know what, or even whether it will come up in this serial or some other.  I have learned to trust such feelings, and to not bully my muse into submitting to what seems logical at the time.

          Which is one reason I don’t sell my work to a formal publisher.  An editor would improve the story short-term, but mangle the not-yet-realized greater tale.

          I also dreamed of Merrill and Zanne taking separate missions at this period of their lives, and later (my time; earlier in theirs) of Zanne considering whether or not to take a vacation in Darvinia first, and whether or not to take Merrill along. 

          I made up Mori arranging to meet Deirdre after the war, because I dreamed of that eventual meeting.  I did dream of finding Damien stunned on the bench, thinking him drunk at first, then realizing what really happened–or what I thought really happened.

          I also dreamed of their attire changing after this point—dulled down, and Deirdre wearing mottled black.  But then, the Don has confronted her with her dark side.  She’s ready to accept that the path she herself chose requires that she don a role darker than her ideals, to take responsibility for her choice, and that on the road that she selected she must camouflage herself in darkness to survive.

          For even without dreaming the dialogue of their meeting, I felt within the dream his insistence that we always have choices, and that nobody forced Deirdre into the changes that she has undergone.  And here I see my gift, my advantage over the family of my upbringing: that I know that how I deal with my choices and my emotions lies under my control—in coldness as well as anything else .

          And whether I can act?  Can the soul’s spine heal?  We shall see.

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