In which my brother and I beat up a ghost.

I was just going through some old voice memos and found one about a dream I’d had recently:

I’m in the faculty lounge at work, telling somebody that a former coworker, Jeanelle (who used to be the English Department Chair at my school) had died. A few minutes later, Jeanelle walks into the room. Stunned, I apologize profusely for telling people that she had died. I can tell that it bothers her a bit, but she forgives me. After all, I can be forgiven for thinking that she had died–especially since she did in real life.

A beautiful redheaded woman sits nearby, has heard the entire discussion, and is not as forgiving. She gives me the evil eye, and I try to explain that I have made an innocent mistake. As I explain myself, she says nothing, but she clearly grows angrier. The more I explain, the angrier she gets, and the darker the rest of the room gets, until I see nothing but her fury. She launches at me.

I find myself in my parents’ house, circa 1988. I’m trying to talk on the phone with a friend from college (which doesn’t make sense because I hadn’t met my college friends that long ago). My brother and sisters are goofing off and making it extremely difficult to have a conversation. I go upstairs to use the phone in my old bedroom (which certainly didn’t have a phone in real life). One of my sisters in on the line, complaining that she needs to use the phone. I tell my friend I’ll call him back some other time. I hang up.

I try to go to sleep in my old twin-sized bed with the brown blanket. My brother is already asleep in his bed. I can’t get to sleep. I also can’t speak. I feel as if something is physically restraining me. I figure it’s just sleep paralysis–which is no big deal now since I know what that is, but when you’re ten or eleven it’s still pretty damn scary. But I realize that this isn’t mere sleep paralysis, that something actually is restraining me. I try to talk to my brother, but my words are muffled by this thing’s grip over my mouth.

I reached over and shook my brother awake. He asks, “Are you nuts?” I try to ask my brother if he can feel whatever’s restraining me. I guide my brother’s hand towards the invisible thing to see if he can feel it. He says he can feel the ghost. So we grab it and wrestle it off me. It slips away.

The family’s three Siamese cats are lying on my bed, tails lashing back and forth angrily, all staring intently at a particular corner of the room, opposite the door. My brother points at the corner and says, “It had to go that way. Maybe it lives under the house, or between the floors, or in the wall.”

So I go to the corner where the ghost had hidden, presumably waiting until I tried to go to sleep again, and get him in a bearhug. My brother and I drag it out of the room, into the hallway, and punch it and stomp on it until it gives up, apologizes and leaves forever.

I woke up and thought it was an especially strange dream. I wondered if I had the dream because of what I had said about Jeanelle dying. I looked around and realized that I was still in my old bedroom at my parents’ house in 1988.

I woke up for real. I think.