A woman who carries her insides on the outside

The woman who had come to stay was tall and elegant but there was something wrong. I sensed it.

The back details of this dream have faded but I remember the woman offering to show us. She closed the door of my bedroom and began to peel off her clothes layer by layer.

There were several layers: a long sleeved dress, followed by another, then an underskirt and t shirt, an under blouse. So many layers of clothes and as she took one layer off after another, I guessed out loud:

‘It’s because you’re too thin’.

I could see already her pencil thin arms, but hers was not an ordinary thinness and when she peeled off the final layer of her underwear and stood before me naked, I could see that it was a problem, not only of thinness but of digestion or some such ailment that had so impacted on the texture and thickness of her skin that every item of her internal organs and structure was visible beneath the thin layer of her skin.

Like a translucent membrane, it held the parts in place.

I could see the shape of her heart beating, the layered lines of her rib cage. Her intestines coiled like a string of beads and the little sack of her stomach bulged to one side in the middle near a smaller sack, her bladder.

I write this to describe the image of a woman who carried her insides on the outside, like a heart on her sleeve and this to the extreme. She reminded me of those illustrations you see in doctor’s surgeries, the ones designed to demonstrate the location of the various parts of the human body, the parts we cannot see.

In my dream, the woman became my child and I knew that I should feed her.

I sat her in front of a bowl of chicken pieces and began to entice her with other foods, left over Japanese food, sushi and sashimi.

Elsewhere I took some noodles from the plate of another child who was eating nearby and encouraged my thin girl to eat up more and more. I knew that if I could feed her well enough over time her skin would grow thick and she would no longer need to hide herself behind these multiple layers of clothes.

I often have dreams of starving children.

I dreamed once of a baby in a bassinet who had shat so much her whole cradle and body were covered in shit. And there I was in my dream desperate to find ways of cleaning this baby.

Dreams are funny things. They have away of telling you about your state of mind in disguise.

I had these dreams, the one above and the one of the shit-covered baby, a long time ago, hopefully I’ve managed to clean up my act and get a feed by now, but the resonance of the stories remain.

People often resist reading dreams, given they are not actual and factual, but to me they hold more truth than other things in this post fact world, given our dreams come unbidden and we cannot make them up even as we might distort the original in the remembering and the re-telling.

To me, dreams are better by far than anything else as a temperature gauge of what’s going on internally.

They are the science fiction of the writing world and I think it’s time we paid them more attention.


4 thoughts on “A woman who carries her insides on the outside”

  1. Have you ever found a way to act on your dreams, Elisabeth? If the problem is laid out before you, do you then know the way forward? Or is it just that, a current state of mind not needing any action?
    Personally, I am very familiar with the ‘suddenly naked’ recurrence. What to do, or how to hide it, that is the problem.

    1. I gather nakedness in a dream is a possible sign of feeling vulnerable or some such thing, Karen. As for taking action following a dream, I’m not sure of the predictive value of dreams. I think they help in understanding your state of mind, and that usually helps, if you can reflect on it, but I’m not sure of it as a guide as to what to do next. Thanks, Karen

  2. I enjoy having dreamt. I rarely recall much and am jealous of those who can rattle off the details of the dream they were having as they woke. I can tell you that my dreams usually involve a work situation and’re often set in variations of offices where I’ve worked but populated by a mix of people I’ve known from childhood on. Family don’t appear so much and when there’s a wife figure it isn’t always Carrie or anyone I’ve been married to if it comes to that but I don’t read too much in that. I don’t read too much into my dreams at all. That I would dream about work is perfectly natural to me since I’ve always been (and still think of myself as) a worker. If I’m not working, if I’m not doing something productive, then I’m ill at ease. I rarely even sit and just watch the TV these days, not since I acquired the tablet. I don’t have nightmares although Carrie does and only last night while I was working in my office in the middle of the night I heard her crying out in her sleep and when I checked on her she spoke to me, something along the lines of, “I suppose you think that’s funny” but it was obvious she was still asleep. I told her what’d happened as soon as she woke up and she said someone had been tipping spiders over her. I’ve never had anything like that. I’ve never dreamt of falling. I’ve never dreamt I was naked except where being naked was an appropriate thing to be although I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a bona fide erotic dream. No, it’s work I find comfort in. In the real world work was always a place to escape to so it makes perfect sense I’d escape there in my dreams.

    1. I loved Carrie’s dream here, Jim, and yes, it seems good that she could remember well enough to tell you about it. Her dream and those words about someone thinking it was funny to tip a load of spiders over her. As for always dreaming about work, that’s striking, too, given what you say about the importance of work. I’m a bit like you in that regard, uncomfortable unless I can be reasonably productive about all manner of things, but especially in my writing. Thanks, Jim.

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