CONTRIBUTION · 13th May 2010
Since she was very young, in another kind of life, Hummingbird had dreams, unlike the dreams of her friends; these were troubling, impossible to ignore, traversing the boundary between sleeping and waking.
Sometimes the dreams were like monochromatic ghosts, wispy impressions that flitted at the periphery of her unconscious, acompanied by vague feelings of unease, inspiring a kind of restless discomfort in her, not easily dispelled by the light of day. If there were voices then they whispered, causing her inner ear to strain, hoping to make sense of the inaudible words.
Other times, the dreams were far more graphic and the voices were prodding, urging, inciting her to new actions, The images were clear, and in technicolour, like a kind of luminous vision, suspending her between slumber and wakefulness, a kind of immobility which imperilled her, infuriated her, made her wish to rip aside the curtains in her mind and experience more fully the gift of her second sight.
As a child, Hummingbird always knew when someone was dying, even when people would say that the individuals were healthy or recovering. No amount of words could make the hair lie smooth upon her arms, chase away the prickles from the back of her neck, banish the spectres from her room when she sought sleep after such visits.
Later in life, the dreams were sometimes explicit, like the time she dreamed that her fiance's car flipped upside down on the highway and the next day the police came to her door, saying that her fiance had fallen asleep at the wheel and turned his car upside down, totalling it, precisely like her dream had predicted.
Not every premonition was negative, Sometimes, Hummingbird dreamed of meeting friends and there they would be, the next day, in just the place she had seen them, a place neither of them had ever been together. It was as though, through sleep, that she could share information with her friends.
Hummingbird's second sight was not limited to dreams, She often would pick up the phone before it rang, knowing who was on the other end of the line. Sometimes she knew what mail would come, and on what day.
So, when Hummingbird began having visions of her lover as a dying wolf, getting thinner and thinner, retreating more and more often into his den, she was filled with the absolute certainty that her lover was dying.
Hummingbird thought it would be alcohol that would steal his will to live, erode his health, sap the strength from his limbs. The first morning after she had seen him in his dying wolf form, she begged him to please take more care, for both him and her, but his retort was that he had always said he would "Live hard, and die young" followed by a shrug and the resumption of his loose-limbed stride to his neighbour and the promise of whiskey.
Night after night, Hummingbird saw the wolf in her dreams, and day after day, she tried to get him to the doctor, to eat, to clean himself up, to drink less, with the support of his sisters and the opposition of his drinking buddies. The greatest opposition was from her lover, a sweet, gentle man who was, nevertheless, passively aggressive when it came to his drinking and his health.
The last night when she saw the dream-wolf go into his den and just look at her with the same sad eyes as a dying dog, it took little to propel her into a last desperate action, to tell him that she would not stay with a man "who loved a bottle more than he loved her". Just one last shrug, and Hummingbird was packing, crying, driving away from a future of watching her lover kill himself.
Months passed, and Hummingbird tried to move on, but the wolf still slunk through her dreams, ever more slowly, ever thinner. Word reached her that he had another diagnosis, one that was far more chiling than that of alcoholism, and which accounted for the painful slenderness of the dream-wolf. Just as in hummingbird's dream-image of him, he was coughing, growing thinner, and was still resistant to the interventions of others. If left to his own devices, he would never sober up, while the disease made its inexorable progress through his wasted and weakened frame.
The dream, like all of Hummingbird's other ones, was a true vision of what would come. He would not only die, while yet a young man, but was rushing to meet death with the speed of a runaway train. He would not have wanted her tears; they would have been wasted on him as he had made his choices, and invited their consequences, long before she had ever met him. Any guilt she had was a futile emotion, no doubt of it, as he would not have wanted her to care for him, he of the firecely independant spirit.
Hummingbird nodded to herself as she reflected on this. But oh, she mused, why did he still haunt her dreams, looking at her with such sad, pained eyes from his bony wolf's face? Would he continue until that last time when he could no longer leave his den?
As the tears burned her eyes, Hummingbird wondered; if she threw back her head and howled, would that little wolf hear her cry, in his own dream-visions?