| Her gentle breathing awakens me. She is staring into my eyes; this sheepdog mixed with setter that I have grown to love so much. With my hair grown thick on the sides of my head, we even bear an eerie resemblance to each other, the main differences being the glasses and the damp nose. The clock says 5:45 a.m., time to get up.
I find Susie Cat in the bathroom, in pursuit of a little gray ball trying to hide behind the toilet. The mouse doesn't move, trying the old 'play dead' trick, knowing that Susie, for all her cold-blooded killing ability, is not in the hunt for food, but for the sport of it. I brush my teeth then use the toilet, taking care not to disturb the tableaux so neatly arranged under me.
Susie pokes at the mouse, which would like nothing better than to be able to get under the plunger that sits on the floor and start a new life for itself. Susie, like any bill collector, is insistent with her hectoring. The mouse makes a dash only to be intercepted by my sandaled foot, which stops it in its tracks. I take off the sandal and dispatch the rodent to a better place I know.
I am amazed at myself, being able to do this without my glasses. The perfunctory clearing of the battlefield follows, along with the awarding of medals to the troops. The general pins a Pounce to Susie's chest, while the orderly heaves the mouse off the deck into the backyard, food for the hawks. This is Susie's second kill in two days.
Back into the house from the porch, I notice that it is as cold inside as out. The part of the bay window which cranks open has thrown in the towel, air conditioning the house. A new window will have to be installed. My dream of a perfect little house is being displaced by the forty-degree air.
Dreams are evaporating all around me. The mice dream of better lives for themselves and their families in this Promised Land. They do not know when they emigrate that there is a very unforgiving god living here.
The cat's dream of a morning spent stalking her prey has been rudely interrupted by the lucky stomp of the half blind man, who now tries to buy her off with some pink bauble that is supposed to taste good.
The sheepdog, the progenitor of this dream sequence, woke from her reverie to see if her master and friend could help make it come true. Her dream was modest, to romp, sniff, roll in the grass and maybe catch a rabbit. She needs her best friend to open the door. She does not know that she has wooed "a creature made of clay" and that "when the angel woos the clay he'd lose his wings at the dawn of the day".
In a care facility three miles away, the heroine of this tale spends her day in a bed. She has been transferred there from a hospital. The facility can take care of her better than her husband, who is busy writing all the time, pursuing another dream. Her mind flits in and out of her dreams.
She wanted to be a famous artist and a mother, 'mommy' was the term she used. When the gods robbed her of the latter twelve years ago, the former also began to die. Her heart is giving out. Her body craves oxygen that her flawed chamber cannot produce.
Only a fanatic would damn the torpedoes and pursue dreams at all costs. To share them with others, modifications must be made. Susie Cat will receive a plate of yogurt in place of the terrified mouse and the inedible Pounce. The dog will be let out early while I drink my coffee in the morning chill of the living room.
As for the heroine, her dreams are more modest now. She wants to be able to breathe easily, to have the energy to walk about and do what she once did, to eliminate the confusions that bedevil her mind, and to come home to the house with the tableaux in the bathroom
Valatie May 15, 2001