The Falling Arrow

September 15, 2004

Last night I awoke from a dream which had my throat tight and my heart thumping in fear. It's truly a wonder I didn't shout out in my sleep; maybe I did and no one heard.

Through a rather convoluted sequence of a police investigation within my dream (too much of the CSI marathon on SPIKE TV), it progressed into someone unknown firing arrows into the air to see how far they would go.

Suddenly, that dream was over and I was in another, like the turn of a page in a book. I was in my old yard. My mother was at one end with a group of people I couldn't recognize. There was another group which included my brother Michael at the other end of the yard, 'around the corner' at the short end of the "L" of the yard.

Again, someone was firing arrows high into the air, but this time in the direction of my brother and his group. "Look out!" I shouted, trying to warn them of the incoming arrows. One arrow hit the ground close to them and skittered across the lawn. A person standing next to my brother jumped out of the way, avoiding the arrow, but when my brother to dodge it by bending backwards on his heels, the arrow bounced and hit him in his side, going clean through his abdomen and thigh.

As he fell to the ground I was already running towards him, screaming at my mother and the people at the other end of the yard, "Ambulance! Call an ambulance. 911! 911! 911!"

Michael flailed, trying to get up. Suddenly, in dream fashion, instead of where he fell he was at the opposite end of the yard beside my mother. She was reaching towards him as he twisted, falling to the ground again and again. I screamed, "Hold him down! Don't let him move! Hold him down! Hold him down!" I was screaming so loudly my voice I could feel my throat tighten and I was already hoarse.

I woke up, my heart thudding loud enough to hear it in my ears and feel its vibration against the mattress. Even though it had been a dream, it had been a horribly vivid dream, and it took me several seconds to realize it had only been just that. I breathed, trying to get the image of my brother out of my mind. It took several minutes for my heart to slow. This is how people die at night, I thought, from dreams like this at night.

And so I am reminded of when my brother and I were much younger, in our yard, coincidentally about the same spot as where I was standing in the dream when I'd seen my brother struck. My father had a large bow and set of arrows, although why he had these I don't know as he didn't hunt. Perhaps my Uncle Larry got it for him for Christmas or inspired him to get them with tales of deer hunting in West Virginia. I remember that if you weren't very careful the string would snap against your forearm and wrist when you fired, leaving great stinging red welts that hurt like hell.

Michael and I had the bow and arrows out and were firing arrows into the air, shooting them into the summer evening's sky above the trees to fall and stick in the ground. It was my turn.

For the life of me I cannot remember if I was firing and Mike ran out to pick up the arrows sticking in the ground, or had simply been standing there, or whether I accidently let go or whether the arrow blew a bit off course and came down closer than either of us had intended.

Whatever the case, an arrow fell and stuck in the ground only about six feet or so from him. He stood there looking at it with wide-eyes and turned to look at me, equally wide-eyed, shocked at how close I came to seriously injuring or even killing my younger brother. That was it for me and arrows for quite a while.

Michael reminds me of that incident sometimes, and each time I laugh it off, if uncomfortably, because each time my stomach churns with accumulated shock and guilt at the possibilities.

But I can't help but wonder if this dream wasn't the weirdly vengeful subconscious coming out — my near-miss — the near injury or death of my brother, by an arrow shot into the air by me.


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