Looking in the mirror, I could no longer see the handsome man I was supposed to be.
The nose was disproportionately big, its bridge twisted in a grotesque manner to the right. Or rather, to the left. (Like that matters.) The full lips were fat - fat, oily and blistered, like they were just retrieved from a pool of boiling oil. And for my eyes, the eye bags were so heavy it's like they each carry a small pocket of oil themselves. The irises betrayed a special kind of fatigue, the product of decades of accumulated futility.
So this is how I look when I'm old. I turned around to look at a man whom I did not know in real life, and whose facial features I could barely discern. I could, however, tell that he was smirking. He stood up and jerked the table cloth from the table, toppling the glasses. Upon which he proceeded to smother me with it -
And I woke up.
I did not need to look around to know that I'm back at home, the smell of cinnamon and other spices floating in the air around me. I looked towards the kitchen, where my wife was cooking.
"Bad dream again?" she asked without looking back.
* * *
For the past month, I've been dreaming the same thing. I'd find myself in a traditional home found mostly in the rural parts, and I would be right in front of a mirror. I knew I was young in the dream, and I knew the mirror reflected an older me. I stared at the mirror, studying my aged features, without feeling. And then this unknown man sitting behind me, who was looking at me all the time I was staring into the mirror, would stand up at some point in time, pull the table cloth off the table and smother me with that.
That was when I would invariably wake up. And everytime the dream would be exactly the same, without the slightest change in details.
"It's the consistency that bothers me. Like it's some kind of premonition or something."
My wife, with a tired look in her eyes, said, "You worry too much. It must be your stress at work. Or that silly book you're reading every night."
The Arabian Nights is no silly book. Not that I would even bother to explain that to her. For my wife, the only things she read were women's magazines and the papers. Trying to explain the exotic enchantment surrounding the raw sexual violence of a thousand cleverly interconnected stories to her is a waste of time.
True, work was challenging, as always. But it never did break me down, and the kind of pressure I faced was of the healthy kind, I believed. I've had my colleagues, my team, watching out for me, and we often mixed work with pleasure, playing late night games in the meeting room to relieve stress whenever. No, work wasn't the issue, that I could be sure.
As usual, my wife offered nothing helpful other than the rather pleasant breakfast she managed to make consistently.
"How's the breakfast today? I've added a dose of..."
"It's ok." I brushed her off as always (although I didn't mean to - it's just become a habit), and left the dining table.
* * *
For the next two weeks, the dream consistently haunted me, but there was nothing I could do about it. The mysterious figure in the dream remained mysterious, and I always woke up in cold sweat. I did somehow get used to its consistency though, and was no longer as disturbed by it as I was at first.
* * *
That morning, I had a splitting headache and couldn't concentrate at work. Conceding that I could not longer contribute positively, I took the day off and went to see the doctor, who prescribed me the usual dose of medicine.
When I unlocked the key to the gate, I thought I heard my wife dropping something inside the house. Still, plagued by my headache and the exhausting weather, I was in no condition to care about anything else outside of myself. I dragged my feet into the living room and slumped onto the sofa, closing my eyes and expecting my wife to appear with a good cup of tea to calm my nerves.
When that didn't happened, I shouted,"I'm home! Stop whatever you're messing with and bring me my tea!"
Again, there was no response. Not even an annoyed "yes", which might be expected of her when she was in a bad mood. As I've said, I was too tired and too much in pain to do anything about it, and chose to close my eyes and listen to the buzzing sound of the running fan while I waited.
Finally, after a good five minutes or so, I heard my wife approaching from behind.
"So, have you got my -"
What I saw right before me as I turned around was the family vase, which shattered on hitting me smack in the face. I whirled and hit myself once more on the low table, before collapsing on the floor.
I could feel my fingers twitching on their own accord, but otherwise I could feel nothing. Before my eyes was a blurred vision of the kitchen, tainted with red. I was in so much shock I couldn't wonder what happened. And then I heard my wife asking:
"Is he dead?"
Which was followed by another blow to the back of my head, that took the life out of me.
Background image by Atle Mo.