The comforting whirring sound of the airconditioner helped to dull the impact of the fractious noise of the outside traffic. Sparkling bright azure sky was deepened to a deeper, less eye-offending blue by the window's shade. They were five stories off the ground.
The office smelled of leather, vanilla, and mint. Absently the young woman stirred the spoon in her sweetened tea. The clinking sound bounced around the medium sized room, filling it. The young woman gazed pensively out the window, cup in hand, unwilling to face the turn in the conversation just yet.
"So," the counselor drawled, "what do you think it all means?"
"Huh?" The woman intelligently replied. As if she hadn't already been thinking that question herself. She just hadn't expected to hear it from the outside.
The counselor shifted in her seat. There was a rough fabricky noise as she moved. The pen she was using to take notes popped lazily on the clipboard. Her own mug sat, lonely, on the small brown table to her left. She smiled softly and shifted tactics. "They say that dreams have meaning. Each figure, each action represents something in your psyche. You've heard of that before, right Bernice?"
Bernice took a sip of her tea and let the cool flavor roll pleasingly over her tongue. She shrugged, "I guess."
The counselor, Dr. Gabrielle, tapped the pen against her lip. "Have you thought about that?"
Bernice twitched. Her fingers wrapped tighter around the cup and her breathing intensified. The airconditioner seemed very loud now. "Maybe."
"Mm." Dr. Gabrielle's pen made scritchy noises as it rubbed against the paper.
Bernice considered more. "Not really," she allowed. "I guess I've just gotten used to them."
"Except for the new stuff you just told me?"
The woman side and set her own cup down. She picked up the spoon and fiddled with it, rubbing her finger along the bowl and length of it. "Yeah. Except for the new stuff."
There was a space catching pause and the counselor looked thoughful. "I think maybe I made a mistake."
Bernice looked startled and stopped playing with the spoon. For a moment she actually looked interested, but she also looked cautious. "Oh?"
The counselor looked that the notepad in her hand, then in a rush of decision, set them aside on the small table. "Let's approach this differently." The counselor stood up, then grabbed the back of her chair and pushed. The chairlegs scraped against the carpet, making long curvy lines along its travelpath. The counselor briefly smiled at Bernice when she finally stopped. The chair was now right besides hers.
Dr. Gabrielle sat down, intimately close, with just the distance of the armrests between them. "There is another way of looking at dreams."
"Uh-huh," responded Bernice doubtfully. She leaned away from the doctor, put the spoon back on the table.
The doctor scooted forward in her chair, acting as if she were about to speak confidentially. "What if that were only part of the story? What if we looked at dreams as doors to different viewpoints of reality? Heck, what if they were doorways to different realities? What if symbology was just *one* component of a *type* of dreaming? What if what we knew now as reality contained those same components, but we just aren't as aware of them?"
Bernice' shoulders dropped a little. Her eyes widened. She moved closer to the doctor. "What do you mean?"
"What if we approached this dream as a puzzle that was more than just your interior landscape?"
Dr. Gabrielle nodded. "A message in a bottle, if you will. But it's coded and written with hieroglyphs instead of words. A puzzle." She took Bernice's hand in hers, turned it palm up and held it carefully. With a delicate touch she traced the lines in Bernice's palm. "Think of it as an inner landscape that takes you into different worlds. Some of them your own interior. Some of them as real and alternate to ours as well...a parallel universe. To find out which dream is what, you have to unravel it, a little piece at a time. You have to figure out the meaning to have the key to know what your travels have been."
"Like palm reading?"
Dr. Gabrielle nodded, "Yes."
Now Bernice was interested, "How can you tell which is which?"
"That's what I'm here to help you find out."
Bernice's mouth formed an "Oh," of comprehension.
The counselor let go of her hand and sat a little further away, but not too far. "If I gave you a bit of homework, would you do it?"
Dr. Gabrielle shook her head. "No maybes. Just a Yes or No. Do it or Don't. Will you do the homework?"
Bernice took a second to be sullen, but she gave it up out of curiousity. "Okay."
"Yes or No."
Dr. Gabrielle gave her a beatific smile. "When was the last time you painted?"
"Me?" squeaked the young woman. "I don't paint."
"In your dreams you do."
"But that's not me. That's Brigid."
"Who is Brigid?"
"Myself. My...other self"
"The one you say is hidden in you. But you also say she doesn't really exist. Except in your dreams."
"You need to connect with this dream self, Bernice."
Dr. Gabrielle shifted forward again. "Consider the stories you've told me, what's the common thread."
"Do you think she might be able to tell you what the symbols mean? What they are even?"
"You don't have to paint like her. You've created this superhuman model that you've been measuring yourself against. But you don't have to meet her standards. You just have to welcome her, greet her. Get to know her."
"I .....don't know how."
"You will." Dr. Gabrielle spoke with the confidence of one who'd been there. "Do you own any paints?"
"Hmmm." Dr Gabrielle looked longingly at her notepad, then snapped out of it. "Buy some."
"What if I can't."
"Then buy crayons."
"And paper. Draw it if you can't paint it."
"You already said you would."
"What will I be drawing?"
"The first thing that comes to mind. But it has to be from the dream. You may not know what it is, or how it will come, but just put your crayon or brush to the paper and just go. Don't let the mistakes stop you."
"You knew I was going to ask."
"Everyone is critical of their own mistakes Bernice. But mistakes aren't necessarily bad things. They're just ...benchmarks. They're there for a reason. It all fits together. Nobody is in competition here. Are they?" Dr. Gabrielle patted Bernice's knee.
Bernice looked startled, but thoughtful.
"Bernice." The counselor switched tracks, knowing the woman would do the assignment.
"I've got another assignment for you."
"When you're done painting the scene," the counselor began, "I want you to redream it."
"Go back, and fantasize the dream. It doesn't have to replay exactly the same, but...ask your symbols, those characters you mentioned, a few questions, like..what is your meaning? what are you trying to tell me."
Bernice looked away from the counselor, but Dr. Gabrielle continued. "Redreaming is the most potent just before you fall asleep, or just ..after you've awakened."
Bernice hmmphed again.
"Remember you already agreed."
Bernice's attention returned. "I know."
The buzzer rang and the reverberations filled the room. Dr. Gabrielle let go of Bernice's knee. "Times up."
"Uhm. Okay." Bernice stood up awkwardly, grabbing for her purse on the way. "See ya."
"Same time next week."
Bernice reached the door. The counselor spoke, "Do you know what Gabrielle means?" Bernice turned to look at the doctor. She shook her head. "It means divine messenger."
Bernice looked down and filed that away in her memory. "'kay." she responded.
"What does Brigid mean?"
"I don't know."
"Maybe you ought to find out."
Bernice turned the knob of the handle and pulled. "Maybe."
Then she left.
In the end she bought both paints and crayons. Since the whole "assignment," seemed so silly she just purchased the local children's brand of 64 crayons and 12 Tempera. She bought one sketchpad in concession to the idea of "art," which she knew *she* wouldn't be creating.
She forgot the brush.
A part of her was heartened by the idea her counselor presented; that she was indeed experiencing the effects of seperate realities. Even if it was only the interior landscape of her imagination. It was a much friendlier approach than telling her that she was *out of her mind!* The other part of her felt a little challenged.
Still, after dinner, Bernice pulled out the box of crayons from the plastic store bag, cursed the lack of the brush for a moment thinking that she would just quit right then, and then, in a bout of determination to honor her commitment, dragged the spiral sketch pad out flat onto the table.
She picked her first color, not even really looking in the box.
She held it in in her hand, over the pad and sighed. At the moment she felt like she was four years old.
Bowing to that notion, and stalling for time, she grabbed another color (Indian Red, as luck would have it) and held it in her left hand.
She couldn't really think of what she wanted to draw, only that she knew it was supposed to be a dream scene. For the life of her though, no images came to her. None, at least, that she felt competent enough to draw.
With a sigh, she settled on doodling, figuring something would be better to show Dr. Gabrielle than nothing. She began by sketching a cube in blue, then filling it in with the red. Then she spiraled some circles away from the cube. That looked interesting and in no time at all she'd forgotten her assignment entirely.
When she was through idly throwing patterns onto the white of the pad, she changed the page and switched the colors in her hands.
The next thing she knew, she was looking at a monstrously formed mechanical cross from which a sad green eyed face stared out at her. She knew it was a woman by the shape of the metal armor's curves, but no other portion of the body showed. She was set upon a blue hill, dark and lonely. There were faceless, knowing people in the background. The sky was the color of blood.
"Gabrielle," Bernice whispered.
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This page was last updated: April 14, 1999
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