Most people sleep for five or seven decades, but he can't help waking up. There's no pattern to how long he sleeps before being plucked from slumber. Maybe a year, maybe three. Just as he forgets about his dream, without warning he's snatched awake again, and he finds himself outside what he suddenly understands to have been a dream. Now he knows himself with a new name, a different body, different language, another space in time, wholly other circumstances.

No sooner is he seduced by the hermetic stupor cast by the unfolding story of his new life, and no sooner does he forget that what seems real is not, at precisely that moment he's struck by sudden, illuminating insight, and he finds himself yet again outside the frame but at once inside another.

For a short while after awakening, perhaps a day, two, or perhaps only a few hours, depending on how tenaciously the new habitation seizes his awareness, he catches reminiscences of the dream he has just evacuated. The dream now seems translucent, hard to believe, separately watchable. He can no longer sleep inside of it.

If he peers carefully and gently into the dream, without snuffing it out, he can make out its beginning: the moment when he awoke from the dream before the last. Like the illusory unending tunnel created when one mirrored wall stands across from another, he catches a glimpse of the doorway where one dream reminisces upon another.

And on rare occasions he sees one dream further, where another dream burrows into yet another, and so on, beginlessly toward the scratchy dreamlit edge of his desultory consciousness.

But the fragile reminiscence inevitably cracks, and he becomes distracted and numbed again by the lilting drama of his this-here, this-now story.

Just before slipping again into slumber, he wonders who he is. I have no name because I've had too many. I have no "I" because of all the stories I've lived, each with an I of its own. I'm a dreamleaper, he thinks. Maybe that's who I am.

Then to sleep.

Michael Webb, 2005

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