Late Night Programming
“I think I should have an affair,” I blurted, five minutes before my session ended. Scrutinized, my therapist awaiting more, I continued recklessly. “I need someone energetic. Attentive. Sexy. I want a man who’ll wake up alongside me and give me physical distraction from these nightmares.”
“You’ve had another one?”
Knowing Dr. Samuels didn’t refer to some young stud, I nodded. I hadn’t planned on telling her. The ongoing themes being helplessness and futility, the subjects of my dreams ranged widely. The good doctor seemed to enjoy hearing them.
“Tell me about it, Karen. My next appointment cancelled, so we have time.”
Aha. I picked up my water glass and took a sip before settling back more comfortably in the overstuffed chair. Her white-noise generators reminded me disturbingly of my husband’s C-pap machine.
“I saw the usual jumble of imagery, confusion of place and time.”
“That disorientation is part of your powerlessness manifesting. Tell me the underlying story.”
“Some character my brain manufactured invited me out to dinner at some distant, fancy resort. Two someones, in fact, who both struck me as day-job acquaintances.”
“Why would you want to go, then, since you’re no longer fond of travel? Were they men or women?”
The psychologist seemed to sit straighter at that. Good grief. She probably anticipated a raunchy tale, even though my dream-sex only ended in frustration these days. Was this the closest she got to the real thing? I certainly understood, in that case. My answer would deflate her libidinous hopes, though, for she knows as well as anyone that I only go for men.
“Go on,” she urged mildly, uncrossing and re-crossing her legs.
“Well, one of them planned to drive separately so that she could swim afterward and stay at the lake as long as she liked. The other gal and I understood the truth but didn’t call her one the ruse,” I said, pausing when the doctor shifted in her seat. “She had a not-so-secret lover near that resort.”
“Interesting. Do either of these women have names?”
“No. They almost never do. These women are ultimately the victims.”
“I see. So the dreams continue to have deadly endings.”
“More often than not, these days.” That used to be rather rare and often part of the solution, such as killing terrorists or home invaders. A few times, I committed righteous murder as another person defending herself or himself from aliens. Sometimes I battled zombies, movie-quality entertainment almost. “Last week, some little girl in a wheelchair died and I was at fault. She forgave me with her last breath. Then I woke.”
“It still bothers you.”
“The fact my mind would conjure such a thing? Yeah. I know it’s not real when the lights come on.”
“Understood. Let’s move forward. Where were you last night?”
“At my childhood home, though the scenery quickly warped.”
“That seems to be a recurrent locale of late.”
“Yeah,” I lamented, “less fun than outer space or a Post Apocalyptic wasteland. And the first thing that I remember clearly, I couldn’t find a usable bathroom and privacy to get cleaned up. It’s odd, seeing as I’m so much younger than my brothers and sisters. A free bathroom was never an issue growing up.”
“It’s another take on the obstructions you perceive in your life. You have a basic need that can’t be fulfilled. Did you end up in a maze?”
“Of sorts.” She caught on fast. I had to give her credit. “The usual motif of a crowded house became interspersed with tight places and decrepit, primitive bathrooms off dingy halls. At one point I had to crawl over a table where my cousin sat with food and wine.”
“Have you noticed that you often include food and alcohol in some manner? I think you feel a bit out of control with them.”
“You think?” I countered, uncomfortably shifting my overweight self on the cushion and taking another drink of water. “We’ve talked about how I need to cut back on my drinking, and overeating only arises after I’ve had too much. The dreams come either way any more, but they seem less intense. I didn’t drink last night.”
Intuitively, she asked, “Who did you see besides your cousin?”
“Lots of dead aunts, uncles, and my paternal grandmother. They all wanted to hug and kiss me, waylaying me further when I finally thought I could leave with my associates.”
“No, though I felt understandably horrified when some strangers at the family gathering kidnapped them.” I paused and she simply grimaced, unsurprised by the turn of unconsciously derived events. “That’s when things got really weird. The people involved treated it like some kind of game, stuffing the ladies in a trunk to take a joy ride. I had a surreal view of the car careening madly through snowdrifts before it disappeared from sight. Of course, my mind conjured horrible scenarios for the endangered women before I jerked awake.” I skipped the part about the cold sweat.
“What else went on at the house after the girls vanished?”
“You know me too well,” I admitted mildly. “I manhandled a couple of the guests who assisted the kidnapping, randomly shoving and pushing when they got in my face.”
Her mechanical pencil scratched like a mouse caught in a trap. I didn’t know what else to say. The lead clawed what must have been a deep line beneath her writing, telling me Dr. Samuels prepared to say something she knew I wouldn’t like. I remembered one particularly lonely night as a little girl. A broken mouse dragged the trap the length of my closet door in tiny, pained increments.
“You know I can’t condone an affair, Karen. And you’re smart enough to understand this would only harm you. You would hurt your husband, yourself by default, and probably anyone else you brought into your life under such deceitful conditions.”
“Yes, of course. Everything you say makes sense.”
“You don’t need a sex addiction on top of everything else,” she added, making me snort.
We both knew the sort of material I wrote for a living. What can I say? Sex sells. And while I wanted to buy into the false promise of a shallow affair, I could not.
Rising with purse in hand, I promised, “I’ll be good.”
“Don’t go that far. Just keep the infidelity in your imagination and bring it out in your stories. Maybe you can even use some elements from this dream.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” I retorted ruefully, wondering if I should offer her popcorn next time.
I shut the door. It cut off her amusement, laughter lost under the breathy whir of those damnable noise cancelling devices.
“Same time, same channel,” I muttered, wishing I could stop comparing myself to a rerun.
Next Friday, Karen breaks her promise in a sequel that will be posted on my erotica blog. I hope you’ll check out “The Sky’s the Limit” on Sand Castles. And tell me what you think! We writer’s adore feedback.