Trees loomed over me as I lay on the damp grass. Its roots—was it braided to a pattern, or was it sculpted to resemble tides? Perhaps by Michaelangelo? A genius he was. Swirls and streaks of paint were my stars, moon, clouds, and Sol. My God, how ensorcelling! I guess that painter’s manic melancholy created something beautiful. 

“Where am I?” I asked… and indeed to no response.

I got up to sit when the haze started to clear. Did the blur come from my eyes, or was it tangible itself? Was it even tangible? 

What surrounded me were creatures that can only come forth from the imagination of a mad man—maybe Munch? No, no, far more lunatic. Massive whales were delicately swimming through the blanket sky. There were ambling cats comparable to the Sphinx. Crawling around were caterpillars the size of my arm, their skins shifting from one cast of teal to another.

What else was there? Oh, yes! That of Monet. I gaze upon the most dazzling field of flowers that suddenly emerged from the ground. Those crimson-colored lilies change from sprout to full bloom in a few blinks of an eye.

“I adore this,” I whispered and sighed in pure ecstasy and satisfaction. 

Every stroke was exquisitely finessed; no speck of pigment was out of place. This world… It was perfect, though not absolute. 

“What… What is happening?” I blurted out.

Out of nowhere, everything started to contort. It was so sudden, impossible to contain. 

Changing?— an understatement. The flowers wilted and morphed into abstract blobs. These dark swirls of paint started to spread. Why would not anyone stop it? One by one, it reached the caterpillars, then the cats, then the whales, and finally the trees. They were all so magnificent. 

It noticed me. Is it alive? The form made its way closer. It bore no eyes, but it was staring me down. 

“Go away!” I screamed, yet it only closed in.

Running was no use as my feet moved, but I was not forging ahead for some reason. Stuck in the same place, I felt feeble and petrified. Eventually, I fell to the ground and accepted the imminent truth that this darkness would swallow me whole. 

“No… No… No!” I screamed as my eyes pried open. The soft cotton covers of my bed and orange hues that peaked through my windows enveloped this new world. 

I let out a frustrated sigh and mumbled, “Again?” As I brushed my fingers through my hair.

Removing the blanket off myself, I stood and walked to my vanity. 

“Sweat beads, huh? You’ve probably seen that dream for over a year now, but you just can’t get used to it. How pathetic…” I conversed with the woman in front of the mirror.

My eyes landed on the digital clock atop my nightstand. 6:24 A.M. I guess I’m not sleeping in today. 

Accepting my defeat against the horrid dream, I walked to the painting studio of my shabby apartment. While opening the door, what greeted me was the oh-so-familiar fumes of chemicals—to me, this was perfume. I picked up a canvas that laid beside the wall and placed it on my easel. Sitting down on a wooden stool, I prepared my paints, brushes, and palettes placed on a rack to my side.

“How long will those images haunt me?” I questioned stupidly, knowing that no one, not even I, could answer. 

Nevertheless, I started to prime the blank canvas. I was already picturing the painting in my head. I’ll draw some flying whales for today.

 The nightmares won’t stop anytime soon—I know. But as for my dreams, I’ll turn them into a reality. 

I have a blank canvas, after all. Artwork by Jaymark Sarmiento

I have a blank canvas, after all.

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