I've had enough shocks and scares to script an entire lifetime's worth of nightmares. Once, while walking in the woods, I stumbled upon a coiled snake, just staring at me and daring me to come closer. Another time, I slipped off a log and fell into a creek on an icy February afternoon. Then, there was that one Easter night when a drunk driver slammed into the family Ford Galaxy, right as we were turning into our driveway. Stepping on rattlesnakes, falling in a freezing creek, and being rammed by another car are themes worthy of the worst nightmares, and I should be waking up each morning with a scream. But I don't. I don't dream of any of those terrors. I dream of something that has traumatized me more than serpents and drowning, more than crushing metal and freezing skin. I dream of school.
I hear I'm not alone when I dream that I've skipped an entire semester of college and walked in to find that it's the last day of class, I'm failing, and I don't even know where my textbook is. I hear others are plagued with the same nightmares. One of my friends dreams she's a few hours short of high school graduation credits, and they are going to revoke her degree. I've known Karen since the second grade. She was a top student who never missed anything, and yet, we both have these crazy nightmares about school, all these years later. My son and I paid his freshman dorm deposit the other night, and I then dreamed that I was back in college, trying to find my old dorm. "Why am I moving into a dorm? I'm 51. I don't want to live in a dorm!" I wish I could dream of copperheads and hypothermia. That would be so much easier to shake off. But I can't. I dream of missing classes, forgotten courses, unannounced tests, and professors staring at me in disgust.
I do have other nightmares, but the most common dream takes place on a college campus, and I'm a slacker. Maybe these nightmares will stop one day. Maybe, I'll be able to shake this curse and finally dream of more pleasant topics. Maybe I'll dream of crashing a car filled with cobras into a frozen lake. It could only be an improvement over nightmares about missed calculus tests and lost dorm room keys.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller, lives in Conyers and can be reached at email@example.com.