Week #509 - Do Dinosaurs Dream of Proto-Sheep?
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Wordcount:


This story was critiqued by:
Tyrannosaurus (crit)
rohan (crit)
The Cut of Your Jib (crit)
Uranium Phoenix (crit)

Prompt:

I'm in my elementary school gym but everything is made of brick. The walls are brick. The floors are brick. The basketball hoops are brick. The gymnast matts are brick. It's dodgeball day but the throwers are teachers armed with paintball guns and the paintball guns shoot acid balls that when they hit you, make you burn and blister. I'm not in elementary school so I don't have to participate but then I see my daughter (irl I don't have children) is next in line to go. She has long black hair like my irl girlfriend at the time. She's crying and scared. I tell the coach that she's not going to do this and we argue but eventually he says that if she doesn't then she'll be executed. I ask if I can do it for her and he tells me I can do it with her. She's now the size of a crow and she perches on my forearm. The gym is a brick obstacle course and the teacher with their guns are on various platforms through the maze. I carry my daughter, perched on my arm, through the gym. I protect her. I manage to dodge every shot until I get to the end which is wide open. I cover my daughter with my body and run. I'm shot between the eyes. My face burns and I'm blinded but we cross the finish line. My girlfriend sees me and in the most heartbreakingly cruel voice says, "Ugh. What did you do to your face?"

Interpretation: hoo boy.

This is a dream about childhood trauma. Not capital-T trauma, but like, the sort of common trauma that shapes most of us in childhood. Not being cool enough, not being smart enough, being a kid with big feelings that you can't express because you're a kid (kids are very very dumb). This feeling of inadequacy carries with you to adulthood. That's why the villains are gym teachers, since the ultimate sign of coolness in 90s/00s schooling is athleticism, the coolest kid gets the blue ribbons on track and field day and comes first in the mile run. And the people putting the most pressure to be that kind of cool are gym teachers. The tiny fake daughter isn't a daughter, the daughter is you. You're protecting yourself from the pain you went through as a kid, or wishing you could have been protected. This is why the dream ends on cruel mockery, being made fun of is the real acid paintballs. Your gymnasium is brick because it's a prison, the prison of memory.

Gaby Baby
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