It starts, as usual, with a feeling of free-fall. Exhilarating and terrifying, plunging and accelerating toward a mysterious landscape below. Then, with no apparent change in motion, she realizes she is actually flying, traveling parallel to the ground. At first there is joy and a giddy feeling of relief, then there is a tinge of dread, which starts in her gut and grows and spreads through her limbs as the landscape darkens and the flight becomes a journey with an unpleasant destination. Then the feeling of motion stops, and the fear is joined with sexual longing, and her body starts to respond. The sequence of emotions, experienced so many times now, remains new and fresh - such is the strange power of the dreaming mind.
She feels lost and alone, as if she is a thousand miles from home. She feels helpless and stupid and unskilled. And she aches with desire.
He woke from a deep, dreamless sleep when she lashed out with her arm and hit him in the back. No longer startled or confused when this happened, he calmly reached up into the darkness and switched on the reading light, flooding the bed with a warm, yellow glow. Three a.m. She was tangled in the bedcovers, the blue top sheet twisted around her torso, pinning one arm beneath her. She was shaking her head slowly back and forth, saying "No, don't leave me here" over and over again in a pitiful little-girl voice.
"Wake up, honey. Bad dream." He squeezed her shoulder firmly, and she slowly relaxed, the tension draining visibly from her face. Then her eyes opened and she gave him a questioning look.
"What... ? Oh. Damn. What was I doing?"
"Moaning and thrashing, as usual. What do you remember?"
She thought about it, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, and finally shook her head.
"Nothing new. Falling, flying, scared, horny. Same shit, different night."
"Mary, this has to stop. Maybe you should see a doctor."
"I'm seeing Dr. Lundquist tomorrow. Today."
"I mean a medical doctor. Maybe there's a physical cause."
"Dr. Lundquist says there isn't."
Fuck Dr. Lundquist. "How about what we talked about earlier?"
"Oh Joe, I don't know ... I'll ask Dr. Lundquist."
Great. "Are you horny now?"
"No, I'm all right," she lied. She slipped out of bed and padded into the bathroom. When she came back he was asleep. She straightened the sheets and climbed back into bed. Her hand drifted automatically down her stomach, under the waistband of her shorts, through the soft thatch of hair to her moist, slippery sex. Listening to her husband's slow, even breathing, she quickly brought herself to a quiet but satisfying climax. Only then did she shut off the light.
Dr. Lundquist was, as usual, reassuring, patient, and unhelpful. Truthfully, he was mystified by the pretty, well-adjusted young woman and her strange sexual nightmares.
"Have you been able to recall any specifics? People, places ... objects, even?"
Mary shook her head, feeling guilty, like she wasn't pulling her weight. "No. I have a feeling like I'm waiting for someone. Like I was taken to a far off place to see someone."
"But they never show up?"
"I guess not. Not yet."
He made a note on his pad, like this was significant. There was a short silence, and she gathered her courage. "Can I ask you a few questions?"
"Why would I be ... sexually aroused ... at the same time that I'm feeling lost and confused?"
Lundquist made another note on his pad and she felt a flash of irritation.
"There are several possible reasons. It could indicate a problem in your relationship with your husband, for instance."
"My marriage is fine. At least it was before these damn dreams started." They had been through this many times, and she had an urge to shake things up. "Do you think I could have been abused as a child?"
If the question surprised Lundquist, he didn't show it. "Unlikely. The fact that you become sexually aroused indicates against it."
She took a deep breath and said "My husband ... What would happen if I was to, uh, have sex while dreaming? If I was to have an orgasm, maybe it would bring some sort of closure... ?" Her voice was steady, but her cheeks were slightly flushed.
The older man in the white coat shook his head. "That could be dangerous and disruptive. If you were to wake up in the middle of a sexual experience, it could be very disorienting."
"Like waking a sleepwalker?"
"But what's the worst that could happen?"
Lundquist shrugged. "I don't think it will help. It would confuse the issue of where the dreams are coming from."
"I don't give a shit where they are coming from," she thought. Just make them go away.
"OK," she said. "It was just an idea."
Back at work, sitting at her neatly organized desk, she couldn't concentrate on her files. She watched her coworkers scurrying around, concerned looks on their faces, and wondered what it all meant. Why it had once seemed so important. Finally she took a calendar out of her bottom drawer and placed in on the glass writing surface in front of her. There were no events or appointments written into it, just small cryptic notations and numbers in the corners of some of the days. She studied it for a while, made a few entries, and then put it away.
That night, after dinner, she watched Joe as he did the dishes. His hands, encased in yellow rubber gloves, moved methodically under the stream of hot water, steadily filling the drainer with dripping plates and gleaming glasses. He had a blank, faraway expression on his face, and she wondered what he was thinking about. A few years ago she would have asked. Something to do with his research, probably: Joe was a Ph.D. student, mired in a research project that never seemed to make any progress.
She moved behind him, slipping her arms around his waist and pressing her breasts into his back. It was one of their standard marital cuddles, and he turned his head and half-smiled.
"How was the appointment?"
She shrugged. "I don't think we're getting anywhere. Honey... ?"
"I've been thinking about your idea. Still want to do it?"
He grinned. "Of course. What did Lundquist say?"
"I don't know. He was sort of neutral. I can never pin him down on anything. But I don't see what it could hurt."
.... There is more of this story ...