Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | May 3, 2008

Lamb’s Dream

New Boston, New Hampshire.

“Listen, listen,” whispered Lamb.  “Listen all.”

The animals were silent and still, standing at attention around the clay bowl, but Lamb spoke again, “listen.”

Black ceramic and wooden and stone eyes did not blink, but Lamb saw dust shake on the animals’ backs and knew her audience was aware and waiting.

Soon the light would bend around the bowl, as it did every morning and evening, and in the shadow of the bowl Lamb saw dreams.

“Come closer, Bear,” Lamb said.  A small turquoise stone bear shifted out of the circle.  His movements were impossible to detect.  One moment he was beside Pig and Turtle, the next slightly over there, by the bowl.  He was small but strong, and full of memories of the earth where he had lain for thousands of years before being polished and carved and filled with a name.

“I see a great bolt of lightning!  It breaks the land apart and deep down the crevasse fills up with trees and fruits and grains.  It is the most fertile soil any creature has ever seen, but any who chooses to descend cannot climb out again.”

“Bear, that sounds like the home for you!” said giraffe from above.

“No, it’s my home.  I love fruit trees,” said Kitten, who had never seen the outside.

“It is just a dream,” said Bear, but he seemed prouder and stronger than before.

“My turn, my turn!” squealed Pig.

“Shh,” said Lamb.  But of course the animals were always silent.  Their speech was underneath sound, in the subtle movements of particles that only perpetually still objects can feel.

“Pig, I see you falling down again.”  Lamb sighed.

Pig found herself balanced on her snout and remembered the child’s hands that formed her out of clay from a colorful box.  Those hands were kind, but they didn’t form the back legs even with the front.

“Try again?” Pig asked.

“You fall down, but beneath you is grass and above you fly pink pigs with evenly matched legs and thin, light blue butterfly wings.”

Pig squealed happily, still stuck on her snout, but full of hope.

Unicorn was about to ask for her turn when a voice squeaked from behind Lamb.  This was a real voice, booming-loud, sending molecules scattering every which way in giant waves through the air. “Does the Lamb ever get a turn?”

It was a mouse.  A real, furry, heart-beating alive mouse with whiskers quivering and paws scratching and scritching so constantly that every animal in the circle felt most uncomfortable.  If Alive Mouse knocked them over, it would be years before they could gather the ability to stand.

“You hear us?” Giraffe asked.

“Oh, well, I know you’re talking.  Wouldn’t say I hear it like I hear footsteps or cat purrs or thunder and rain, but I hear you up here every morning and evening, tickling in my brain.  And that one you call Lamb never gets a turn.”

“I’m the only one who sees,” Lamb explained.

“Sees what?” asked Alive Mouse. “What is there to see?”

“The shadows.” Lamb trembled.  Alive Mouse was so close she could feel his whiskers disturbing every molecule she tried to arrange to keep herself calm and steady.  When she was first placed on the shelf with the others, a small boy came and took her and left her in a corner where she lay for days and days with only spiders and shadows for company.  It was there, on the floor in the dark, that Lamb had learned to read shadows.  When a girl found her again and returned her to the shelf, she became the sage of the Beyond.

“I can tell you all what’s there,” said Alive Mouse.  “It’s the shadow of a clay pot, and right now it’s getting bigger ’cause the sun’s going down.  Soon it will wrap up the whole room and everything will go black until the sun eats up the darkness in the morning.”

“Is that your dream, Lamb?” Pig asked, staring at Alive Mouse with awe.

“I have no dreams,” Lamb whispered.  Finally, she managed to grasp at enough molecules to  send a burst of dust rattling into Alive Mouse’s eyes.  He jumped with such force that Giraffe fell into Elephant who stepped on Pig who shook and sent Bear racing towards Unicorn and Dragon and in the end all were fallen in a heap around the clay pot.

Mouse took off without a single look back.  “Crazy mind-tickling still-things… serves you right!”  He called back, disturbing just enough molecules to knock over the pot, too.  It rolled around and around.

Lamb started to cry.

Her tears were almost invisible, made of the spaces between the ticking of a clock and the color of shadow.

“I see your dream, Lamb,” said Pig, even more quietly than completely silent.

“I do, too,” said Bear.

“And I,” said Giraffe and Unicorn and Dragon at the same time.

“Your dream is to shiver and shake,” said Bear.

“Yes, and to speak in a voice like an earthquake!” said Pig.

“And knock this whole shelf down on top of that idiot Mouse,” whispered Giraffe.  Her head was hanging over the edge.

“Your dream is as clear as the day that eats the shadows, isn’t it Lamb?” said Unicorn.

Lamb saw a shadow move, then, as the pot finally stopped rolling and sat still.  In the shadow, she saw a lamb leaping across a field.  A real, warm, quivering, alive lamb.

“Yes,” she whispered. “Yes it is.”

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