Dreamed 1987/11/27 by Chris Wayan
I'm in a seemingly primitive culture in the far future, living in a huge blocky mountain range, dissected by deep jagged canyons. Travel is hard, and even we don't know all the tribes hidden through our range. To the west is a great rift valley, and beyond it is a second great fault-block, less divided and more evenly settled than ours.
Two representatives from the western block come to visit us. They're a couple: the man's name translates as the mythical beast "Bear" (though he claims the creature truly exists, in the western highlands). The woman is named "Sheren" or "Serena", some such name with no meaning in our tongue, hence hard for me to recall exactly. But I'm attracted to her--a dark, delicate brunette.
Their culture sounds paradoxical: while sharing our reverence for Earth and nature, they build, or at least they repair and use, ancient pre-Collapse ships. Spaceships!
They came partly to consult our Oracles, which are known everywhere as the best. After our private sessions, we meet in a lecture room, move chairs and sofas in a circle, and discuss the meanings of our readings... But the details of them fall outside this story. What I wanted to tell you about was this:
Before bed, our leader says "I hope you don't feel jealous, Chris, but the male stranger, Bear, according to the Western custom of hospitality, will sleep with Blondie tonight." Blondie is my girlfriend. "And, for symmetry, you will sleep with Sheren/Serena."
I feel a shock: not a moral shock, or a war between my desire to sleep with Sharen/Serena and jealousy over Blondie and Bear, but between double realities: my fear that I risk losing my lover to this glamorous stranger from a (let's be honest) more sophisticated land, and my simultaneous knowledge that I never had her to lose--I've never even MET Blondie, I don't HAVE a girlfriend, by that name or any other... and I've started to fear no one will EVER love me again!
For I live here and I don't. Blondie's my lover, and a complete stranger. I'm both single and not. Committed and free. Attracted to Serena, and... well, attracted to Serena! Rather than mixed, warring emotions, I have mixed, warring facts. Conflicting realities.
My role in this universe, and my soul behind it, are not the same. Was the Oracle setting me up for this, using love and fear to pry my shells, my selves, apart? Like a knife prying open a clam!
If I tell anyone of my confusion, they'll just attribute it to "guilt" or "shyness," or "jealousy". Nice safe conflicts like that!
NOTES ON WAKING
Ten years later, I finally learned my "shyness" was a reaction to trauma at age two or three. My parents silently watched me spend a decade in therapy trying to figure out what happened, and then casually mentioned it one day, ("we thought it didn't matter") and one of my sisters confirmed it. The bizarre recurring nightmares I'd suffered all through childhood turned out to be based on reality.
I really did have two incompatible pasts.
Six years later still, I'm spooked by something quite different. For the last year, I was involved in a complex triangle with one brilliant woman living across the continent from me (who was not, I admit, blonde or called Blondie. Only if you want to die), and another, brilliant but multiple, who moved to my home town and changed her name from Cheryl to Serena. A year of utter confusion--was I single, dating, committed? To whom? The bizarre relationship dreams I'd had for twenty years turned out to be based on reality.
I really did have an incomprehensible future.
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