THE MOUSE BANNER
Dreamed 1986/9/4 by Chris Wayan
I am a mouse. I carry a long blue and white streamer that says FREEDOM on it. "It's a great ideal!" I think, but then, suddenly, I'm not sure how hanging up this banner will free me. It's just a symbol, after all. Suppose everyone agrees I'm "free"... I'm still a mouse. Nearsighted, weak, squashable, edible...
But I climb on. I climb up an endless ladder, into a forbidden house. A human house. The upstairs is beautiful and light. I'd be so happy, living here!
Except for the cat.
She charges at me. I tried to distract her with FREEDOM like a matador fools a bull, but she doesn't chase the streamer--she goes right for me. Damn! She can tell life from symbols! Damn cats! I duck and roll; she scrapes my tail but doesn't catch hold.
But she's playing. Stalks me until I'm skittering round in terror, trapped on the stairwell's edge.
Then, inspiration. Cats are BIG. If that monster follows me over the edge, she'll hit a lot harder than I will, due to the cube-square law. Falling won't hurt me--I'm a mouse!
So I take my last breath, hold tight to FREEDOM, and step backward into the void. I fall tumbling for twenty fast panicky heartbeats... using FREEDOM as my parachute.
And the cat? She stops at the brink, scared, digging in those giant claws. Her huge face looms far above me like the moon, as I land sprawling, tangled in blue FREEDOM, and scamper off, saved by my fallen ideals.
And my understanding of physics. We little guys can do some things fat cats can't!
While above, the cat glares, longing to jump... but not daring.
NOTES ON WAKING
I've been writing a lot of dream-stories lately, full of light and love and wisdom that I just can't quite implement in my life. Maddening. My soul's found a heaven, an upper floor, that I'd love to inhabit. But my body quakes with terror at the smallest thing. A mouse, not a man. It's biochemical, not emotional--a hair-trigger alarm! I know they're just phobias, but my body doesn't care--I constantly get sick from the exhaustion of living in fear. Knowing it's irrational doesn't turn off the alarm...
So the cat goes for ME, not my words of freedom. Not distractable by mere insight. Symbolism isn't life.
On the other hand, these ideals DO count--just not the way I expected. In the dream, the mere assertion of freedom saved my life--it made a great parachute on the way back down!
Plus, I got a clear look at what I'm up against. A mouse-banner! And if I can keep my head and fight... maybe next time I climb to the realm of light, it won't be me that gets banned.
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