By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
Have you ever woken up in the morning remembering snippets of a dream that make you wonder what’s wrong with your brain? Would a normal brain dream something as bizarre as this, you wonder?
I had a dream last week that felt so alarmingly real that I woke up and instantly scanned the bedroom, certain that the creature in the dream had somehow followed me back to the real world. As far as I know, it didn’t. But I’m still looking over my shoulder, just in case.
As with most dreams, the details got fuzzy after I woke up. And that’s too bad because I’d love to know the backstory on how the dream got started. But the only vivid detail that remains is of the creature chasing me throughout the night. I’d never seen anything like it.
It was part dragonfly, part snake and part flame-thrower. It flew around my face, sticking out its snake-tongue and breathing fire at me. I swatted at it all night, but the thing was relentless.
After I shook off a bad case of the heebie-jeebies, I did what I do anytime something weird happens. I Googled it. And it turns out that dreams about being chased are common. Most dream interpretation books say being chased means I’m avoiding something in my daily life. I suppose it’s possible. I’ve been a deadline-avoiding writer for more than 20 years now, but this is the first time I’ve been chased by a flying snake that tried to set my hair on fire.
Perhaps the dream has more to do with my fear of snakes. (And, yes, I know that being afraid of snakes is probably irrational because there are “good snakes” and “bad snakes” and, in general, snakes don’t want to start any trouble.) But for some of us, even the sight of a snake is enough to trigger something that feels like cardiac arrest.
It’s probably genetic. I come from a long line of snake-leery women. My mom can barely tolerate even a photo of a snake. And my grandmother and great-aunt once dispatched a bad snake with a shotgun when he dared get too close to their little house in the country.
When I was a kid, my older, prank-loving brother once took me to the window and told me to watch as Mom went out to get the newspaper. In a moment of teenage bad judgement, he’d placed a fake snake a few feet away from the rolled-up newspaper, and he couldn’t wait to see her reaction.
When Mom spotted the fake snake in the grass, her panic nearly made her levitate right off the ground. She didn’t wait to inspect the snake’s authenticity. She practically ran on air back to the front door, the same way Wiley Coyote does when he runs off a cliff. She never did pick up the paper that day, which is probably good because she likely would’ve used it to smack my brother over the head.
I may never know what sparked my bad dream about the fire-breathing, flying snake-dragon. All I know is that, when I close my eyes, I can still see the thing. And I’m beyond grateful that such a creature doesn’t actually exist on Earth. If it did, I’d be on the first spaceship to Mars (which would be hard for me because I hear there’s no Chick-fil-a there).
Sweet dreams, dear reader. I hope the only thing that chases you tonight is good fortune.