The very first time I remember dreaming was when I was four years old. This is also the same age in which I came into consciousness and became aware of myself and my surroundings, and the age I created my first memory. Now – when I said “dreaming” just now, I actually mean “nightmare” – because about 85%-90% of my “dreams” are actually nightmares. I always get “Wow, that’s so vivid! How do you remember them in such detail?!”

It’s simple, really. They’re absolutely horrific and terrifying. My very first one went like this:

I’m walking toward a two-story house. It’s brown and dark-looking. It doesn’t look lived in. It has white trim on the roof and on the corners and around the doors and windows. It has a grey porch with a swing. Gravel crunches into loose dirt beneath my sneakers. I start to get scared. Did I just see someone? Yes. It’s a woman. She is as grey as the porch. Dark circles are under her eyes and she is not touching the ground with her feet. She’s floating. I open my mouth in horror, silent, as her arms outstretch like she’s going to embrace me. I start to back away in fear but I can’t take my eyes off of her horrible sunken face. I want to run, but I want to keep an eye on her. She starts floating toward me and her head lolls to the side. Her big toes drag shallow lines in the dust and the dirt as she floats closer to me.  Breath escapes her lungs in one long, continuous sigh. I turn and run for my life. I scramble to the end of the driveway and take a right, slipping on the small rocks and light earth. I regain my footing and run faster. I feel like her dirty fingernails are close to catching the back of my shirt. I am crying. Finally, I can’t stand it any longer. I turn my head…just to see where she is….and if she’s going to catch me. She’s not there. For an instant, I feel relief. Then I begin to panic as I start to wonder where she went. While I’m still looking back, I run into something hard. It feels like a person. My breath catches and as my vision stops shaking, I look….expecting to see that I had run into the ghost-woman. It’s not her. It’s a tall man with a bulging belly. He wears a black turtleneck and tan or khaki pants underneath a large, black overcoat or duster. His face is stubbly, but friendly-looking. His nose has a red shine to it. He has large hands, and I notice the hair on his fingers. Eyeglasses with extremely thick lenses rest on his face and his eyes look magnified, like through the bottoms of glass soda bottles. Finally, he has shaggy hair peeking out from underneath a derby cap. “Wot we got ‘ere?!’ he asks, crouching down and examining my head to see if I’d been cut. I could feel his wide fingers running through my hair. He adjusts his glasses with his free hand. “Not hurt too bad, like,” he speaks again through his accent. I can’t speak. I’m still expecting the ghost woman to ambush us. Then, the friendly man with the accent produces a silver spoon which gleams in the moonlight. I furrow my eyebrows. Without speaking, he pushes the skin back around my right eye and moves the spoon in close. I try to wrestle away, but he’s too strong. The thick fingers now have a hold on my hair and it hurts. He whispers ” Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh” and slides the rounded edge of the spoon underneath my eye. I feel pain and hear the sickening sound of metal on bone as the spoon slides into the hollow of my eye socket, behind my eye. I spasm involuntarily with pain. I feel the pressure as he tilts the spoon and pops my eye out of its socket, into a jar full of eyes he has waiting to catch the orb in its fall. I scream, the pain more intense than any I’d felt before. Then, he repeats the grisly routine with my other eye. The left eye comes out with a sickening “pop”. When my eyes are gone, I begin to slowly die on the ground, blind. I hear the man whistling as he walks away. However, I realize that as I lay dying…it isn’t real and it’s all inside my head. So, I will myself back to life. Two new eyes grow back into the sockets with a ridiculous (somehow lighter-sounding) POP! When I can see again, the man stops whistling. He had heard the comical POP! noises…and came back toward me, brandishing the spoon again. I was paralyzed at the prospect of the pressure and pain, and just sat there as he once more grabbed my hair and once more slid the spoon underneath the orb of my eye. It kept going, on and on and on….until I woke.

(A Jar Of Eyes Painting by David Junod)