I dreamed about Aly again last night.
I don't often have dreams involving her, but when I do, they're usually very memorable ones. This one was no exception, but it wasn't a good one. It was, in fact, one of the few times I'm willing to state I had a nightmare, one so bad that it forced me awake. In it, Jessie and I were living in a house that reminded me greatly of my parents' old house in Texas, but it wasn't Texas, and it wasn't their house. I remember that the front entry to the house led directly into the kitchen, and a hallway past the master bedroom led to the back door and garage. We were in a close neighborhood, not close as in houses, but as in being on good terms with the neighbors and actually going to block parties and the like, which meant it had to have been a dream since I haven't had that kind of relationship with my neighbors... ever, to my knowledge.
Aly was there, but it wasn't Aly. It was the person who had murdered her in her sleep and then stolen her skin, grinning maniacally from behind borrowed eyes. I knew her secret, and she knew I knew it, and I knew she would come to kill me as well, stealing my body and moving into it, but nobody would listen to me or believe me when I tried to warn others about her. Seeing her filled me with dread, because I knew the person I knew as Aly was dead and yet here was her body, up and moving about as if nothing were wrong, and everyone else was so happy to have her back "among the living" that they refused to accept any sort of fearmongering, especially from someone as prone to "wild ideation" and "paranoid delusions" as I was. It wasn't that anyone was trying to be mean to me. It was just that they knew what a vivid imagination I had, and that it was almost certainly overacting again. Aly was back; why couldn't I just be happy with that?
How could I be happy when I knew it meant I was going to die?
In this dream-logic state, I knew I had no way to defend myself. I knew I couldn't protect myself from her. My only defense came from others believing me and protecting me from her. I couldn't stop my own demise; I could only delay it by avoiding being alone with her. As long as someone else was present, I was safe. If someone else believed I was in danger, that person could save me. The latter never happened, but I kept narrowly avoiding the former, which led people to start accusing me—at best in gentle-chiding, at worst in exasperated-parent tone—of being clingy and co-dependent, and that I should just get over myself. When I tried to explain that no I wasn't being clingy but was instead trying to save my life, everyone just laughed and patted me on the head and told me I was a sili buni.
I awoke from this dream when my alarm went off the first time. I'm at once amazed that I didn't turn off the alarm clock and curl up and crash hard again, and surprised that it was as hard as it was to wake up fully after that. I did spend a great deal of time, comparatively, trying to press myself into Jessie's back and disappear, but every time I fell far enough back into sleep to get any sort of REM, I was back in that house and she was there again. Today's going to be a rough day if that's how it started.
Whatever I did, Aly, I'm sorry.
My business trips are becoming... not more frequent, or more regular, really, but more common an event. Until I came to T-Mobile, I'd never been on one before. Now I've been on three in the last six months, and it may well be that they're actually going to be a regular part of my work environment for the foreseeable future. At least as long as I'm reporting to a manager in Atlanta, they will be.
As always, I took Malachi with me on my trip, because he loves to travel. When I bought my new personal laptop, I had to buy a new backpack even though we had a laptop bag big enough to hold marumari; there wasn't enough room for Malachi to sit and have his head outside the bag and still be able to close the zippers and flaps tightly enough for him to be safe and secure. So, the day before the trip I acquired a new Swiss Army backpack. Literally, it is a backpack made by the same company that makes the Swiss Army Knife, and from the number of pockets on this this thing I can believe it. It's not quite as roomy within the main pocket for Malachi as he might have liked, but there's definitely more space there for him than there would've been had he tried to ride in the old laptop bag.
At any rate, he's asked me to help him put together a travel diary of sorts, so that he can talk about the trips that he gets to take. He loves to tell stories, perhaps more than I do, and his enthusiasm for such things is incredible. I took a number of pictures, not nearly as many as he would've liked but definitely more than I expected to take given that I hardly ever use the camera on my phone, of the places we went while I was down in Georgia. Next time I'll try to get some more shots for and of him for his own diary, which I'll be helping him to assemble over the week. I'm going to have to enlist Jessie's help in getting the images off of my phone, and then probably some help in design work with her as well, so that I can get Malachi's site up and running.
He can't wait to talk about his adventures... and neither can I.