Wednesday, January 11, 2012


©2012 by Laurie Kay Olson

I had dropped into bed early that night, too tired to dream. Sleep had come almost instantly, but it was not to last. Hours later something was wrong. I was flying by night, no longer safely asleep in bed. I looked out of the plane at the dark, snow-covered fields below. We wouldn’t be in the air much longer. We wouldn’t reach Colorado Springs. Jim was fighting to keep her aloft, swearing mightily under his breath. Strangely I became very aware of my tennis shoes. They no longer seemed connected to me.
The crash seemed to take forever. The impact, the dirt and snow spraying, the wrenching sound of tearing, dying metal – everything passed nightmarishly slow. Just as suddenly it all stopped, leaving an equally deafening silence. For long seconds nothing happened.
I lay in the wreckage staring at the night sky though the ripped fuselage. Dead? Alive? I wasn’t sure. I heard Jim sitting up, testing his limbs, standing. I couldn’t move. A cold realization that I was going to die struck me. That which I feared most. Perhaps I already was dead and just hadn’t yet departed my former corporeal home.
Jim stood looking out of the wreckage, then bent to see if I was still alive. I could feel his cold fingers pressing into my neck, but I couldn’t feel an answering thump against them. I tried to urge him to go for help, but I couldn’t speak. There just wasn’t enough of me left. He had to save himself, my life was already forfeit. I wouldn’t be here when he returned. I knew that now. I felt a sob lodged in my chest. Or was it my final breath?
He hesitated a moment, then climbed out and dropped into the snowy field. I listened to his retreating footsteps crunching through the snow, certain now that he would be safe. I would wait for death alone in the cold.
I jerked awake, still held captive by the dream, my heart pounding, a cold perspiration clinging to my skin. There had been a plane crash. Somehow I knew it had really happened. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. In the cold gray dawn I crept shivering from my bed into the living room. The morning news might return me to reality.
I curled up on the couch under the old crocheted afghan and started to doze until the voice of the news anchor brought me back. I bolted upright. There had been a plane crash just north of Colorado Springs, not far from the Air Force Academy. The pilot had climbed out and gone for help, flagging down cars on I-25, while the passenger had died in the wreckage.
Somehow I had died in the night and yet hadn’t. I pressed my face into my hands and shuddered. What now? I considered bailing on work, to drive down to the Springs, to walk into the pilot’s hospital room like a crazy woman and try to find out if I was somehow connected to the one who had died. But even if I could get through, would it do anything more than terrorize a man who had already been through so much? I leaned back into the couch with a huge sigh.
The memory of an old gypsy woman who had gazed into her crystal ball for me came rushing back like a tidal wave. I had never understood her words. Now they held an eerie clarity for me and they seemed to echo in my head. “You are a dream-walker, child, you like to travel at night.”

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