(This story is copyrighted and may not be published in any form by anyone anywhere without the written permission of Sally Blanchard.)
AT first, it seemed to be a dream or even a nightmare but often I am wide-awake when it persists into my awareness. My mind tries to focus as if I had been awakened suddenly from a dream yet only disjointed fragments remain in my conscious memory. Gradually, I begin to feel changes in the very essence of my being. At first, they were so subtle. I’d stop myself and think, “Isn’t that a funny sensation?” A slight shiver would pass through my body but I would shake my head and say, “No, it is just my imagination.” or “it must be part of a dream that I barely remember.” At night I dream unencumbered by daytime responsibilities but my confusing dreams blur constantly into my thoughts, as I get out of bed to start my morning routine.
The illusions from the dreams became more and more real and interrupt me frequently during the day. I am brushing my teeth in front of the mirror and suddenly, as if it was an undefined awareness from the corner of my eye, snatches of my nighttime visions enter my reality. I see vivid flashes of color in the mirror but as I blink my eyes they are gone. If I allow fear into my sentience, it is the dread of insanity that panics me. Indeed, my mother led a troubled life and resided for short periods of time in a mental hospital. Her reality was often unbearable to her and the hospitalization provided her with an escape. Unfortunately, she could not take responsibility for her family and exist in her intense Technicolor world of delusions at the same time. I was never told whether her problem might be hereditary ... I was always too afraid to ask.
My dreams became more intense — so intense that I often cannot distinguish them from the real substance of my life. I was standing in the shower and as I shut my eyes to shampoo my hair, the sounds and sense of the shower suddenly transcend into that of open space among fresh green dripping wet foliage. I hear birds chattering and the thunderous roar of a nearby waterfall. As I open my eyes, I still see fleeting glimpses of color but the sounds are only of the drizzling water from my shower. I replace the banality of towel drying by ecstatically shaking the water from my drenched body.
My thought process is changing and my basic needs are of much greater concern for me than the complex constructed world in which I live. My ruminations are more linear and less convoluted. It does not bother me that I can no longer concentrate at work. I have no patience for the patronizing concern of my friends and fellow workers. They are leaden anchors who do not even try to understand the affirmative evolution of my life. In their conversations with me, I cannot focus on their cloying solicitudes. They are quarrelsome and my mind does not rest long enough to pay them attention. It floats on another path with a single determination but when I return to my own consciousness, I cannot remember where it was wandering. I seem to be shifting from one place to another not knowing how I even got there.
Now I have been relieved from the restraints of my own rigid daily routines and I savor the liberty. My voice and its uttering are more spontaneous and I begin to talk in monosyllables. I find myself yelling and even shrieking with delight at even the simplest joy. And I take greater delight in many of the previously mundane routines of my life. My appetite has increased dramatically and I am far more consumed in the manipulation of my food, delighting in the colors and the pleasurable sensations of using my tongue and teeth to move the different sizes and textures around in my mouth.
The pleasurable dreams and, well maybe, hallucinations do not concern me as much as the slight changes I am beginning to feel in my physical body. There are times when I feel my pulse flutter as my heartbeat quickens to complement my lighter bones and my warmer body. My skin feels prickly as if its thousands of minuscule body hairs are being replaced by something stiffer, yet softer at the same time. After eating, I feel my food settling in my esophagus much higher than my stomach as if there was naturally some sort of extended pouch there.
At night I squat on the high ledge outside my apartment window. Am I ready to push out with my legs to soar through the city? Yes, most of all, I am convinced that I can fly if I just try. The dreams, they are full of flying. What exhilaration it is to plummet down leaving the city behind and swooping to the forested hills to glide through the lush valleys. I am the grand aviator navigating my own suddenly streamlined body through the maze of trees and vines closely avoiding a collision at every turn and twist. And yet, I still wake in the morning and shift my ponderous weight on to my heavy plodding feet. The ground seems to be unbearable. I need more modification to break away so that flying will be natural.
My thinking has become extraordinarily clear and inventive instead of being confined to the black and white drabness of words. Colorful images and landscapes rush through my awareness becoming more and more familiar patterns in my mind. I prefer to spend my time where I can touch, hear, and smell color rather than just see it. Planning anything is futile. Whole days pass without any remembrance of the past and no dread of the future. My perspective of the world changes constantly but even though this transition is obvious to me, I can barely concentrate long enough to notice. I would rather let my mind go simply accepting the ever-increasing delights of my new realities.
Recently, but I do not know for how long, I have begun to realize that it will be just a matter of time before most, if not all, of my usual abilities, are lost — yet abandoning them for these unfamiliar capacities is euphoric. As the transformation continues, it is all I can do to write these notes. I doubt that I will be able to continue writing as my hands tremble with fingers so stiff it has become impossible to hold the pen. My body quivers as the metamorphosis persists. Will I survive? I must for the ultimate exhilaration and freedom — no longer just to dream of flying.