I Remember the Heat


By Jeremiah Bass

“What’s the first thing you remember about the dream when you wake?” Dr. Fischer asked.

“I remember the heat radiating off the sand,” I tell him just like I tell him every week when we talk.

“Why does the heat seem important?”

“It’s so intense that my feet start to melt to the sand; I can’t take it, so I start running.”

“And where exactly are you running? Is there a destination or are you just trying to get off the hot sand?”

“At first I run because the sand is so hot. There’s no shade, nowhere to get out of the heat.”

“Why don’t you get in the water?” Dr. Fischer asks in a condescending tone. I want to ask him if he remembers the how’s and why’s of his dreams, but I bite my tongue.

“I don’t know why I don’t get in the water, but I remember that I miss running, so I keep going.”

“And can you still feel the heat when you’re running?”

I nod and add, “but I can stand it now.”

“When does the tree appear?”

“It’s seems like I’ve been running for an hour, but I’m not winded. I feel…free, like all my stress has evaporated.  The sand doesn’t feel hot anymore; the turquoise blue water grabs my attention, so I start to walk, admiring the scenery. Out of nowhere this tree explodes out of the sand. It knocks me about ten feet back and I land on my butt, my legs feel like they’re on fire. I notice the tree is casting a shadow in all directions. It’s like the sun isn’t sure which way it’s coming from,” I tell him, just like I have in every other session this week.

“It’s a palm tree?” Doc asks, already knowing the answer.

“Yeah, I guess. It’s hard to tell,” I say quickly, unusually anxious and ready to move to the next question.

“Tell me about the tree.”

“Well, it’s tall, skinny, it’s all red and the canopy is ten times bigger than the trunk should be able to hold. A coconut, a book, and a mask are sitting at the base of the tree.”

“What’s the mask like? Masks can be very representative.”

Sick of his psychobabble bullshit, I want to say, “Yeah, I saw that Jim Carrey movie too.” Instead I say, “It’s a Phantom of The Opera mask except black. You know the kind that covers only half the face, the scarred half.” I say motioning at my own scarred face.

“Interesting…go on…tell me about the book.”

“The book is big, bound in leather, and looks fragile, and says ‘Dictionary’ on the front. It doesn’t say what type of dictionary just the one word, ‘Dictionary.’ I open it up and the pages are blank. There’s not a single word on a single page. I lay it in the sand and slide on the mask. Everything goes from color to black and white. I take it off again and everything goes back to color. Put it on, black and white, off color. I do this a few times. Then all the sudden I have the book open with the mask on, and the pages are full.”

“What are the pages full of?”

“Just one word and its definitions.”

“What word?”


“In your dream does this remind you of anything?”

“No, I just sit there turning pages faster and faster.”

“What changes? When do you stop? Why do you stop?”

“It’s the coconut…it starts to roll away. I try to stand up and that’s when I realize that my legs are missing.”

“And then what?”

“I wake up in a cold sweat, my heart’s racing, I reach down, unsure if it’s all been a dream or if my legs really are missing.”

“And when you realize that they are missing?”

“Usually, I start to freak out and a nurse comes in with a shot.”

“What do you remember from the accident?”

“I don’t remember how it happened. It’s like I just went to sleep one night and woke up without my legs.”

“You don’t remember the war?”

“No. Nothing.”

“It’s going to come back to you at some point. Maybe in a flash, maybe over time, and when it does it’s going to be very hard. Until then, we’ll keep meeting three times a week and I’m going to recommend you stay in the V.A. until further notice.”

“I just want to go home, Doc. Please! I don’t understand what’s happening. I just want to see my family.”

“Maybe in a week or two,” he says as he gathers his things and leaves me there. He can tell I’m crying but doesn’t try to comfort me. He just leaves me there, stranded in my hospital bed. Legless, scarred, and confused.  I’m afraid to go to sleep, afraid to stay awake. The tiny window in my room reminds me that the afternoon is fading to dusk and I’m going to have to live through this nightmare again in just a few hours. I just wish it was over.

Category: Fiction, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student