It was the dream startling him awake that had reminded him how sick he was of dreams. How every time he was going to write a new story the first line that would inevitably invade his soft skull was, “In my dreams I carry shells from the beach.” He had no idea where this line came from and that bothered him almost as much as the idea that he would ever, even in a dream, be carrying shells from the beach.
The palpitations were worse than usual. His body rocked quickly back and forth with each rapid beat and his thin rib cage would explode up and retreat back as his heart worked exhaustively to regulate whatever malfunction had taken place. It was the fox dream. Not to be confused with the pig dream or the shark dream. He had seen a real fox only once in his life. It was when they threw up that new development complete with street lamps and their very own cul-de-sac over on Acushnet Avenue. They cut down the few remaining trees in the city, the world, and displaced some of the wildlife. Before work while drinking his morning coffee he happened to glance out in the back yard and saw the beautiful creature with fur like autumn foliage. It was always moments like these that made him feel so empty. He knew from watching movies and nature specials that he was somehow supposed to be moved by the image and he tried to will some emotional response, but he was tired and late to work.
The fox in his dream was nothing like the one he had seen in his yard when he was still the type of person who had a yard and the world was still the type of world that would have foxes running through them. The dream fox wasn’t that classic color of sunset he remembered. The dream fox was silver. Not a silver fox like Sean Connery or Ricardo Montalban. He was pretty sure this fox in no way represented some repressed homosexual urges for older men. It was metallic silver. Bright, vibrant, molten liquid silver. In the dream there was a piece of coal buried deep in his chest and the fox wanted to tear it out. Someone very important had hidden the coal there, but he could never remember just who this person was. He did however remember the orders he was given. The words had become a sort of unconscious mantra. He would catch himself muttering them in his waking life without realizing it. It was not unusual for him to startle passersby and old ladies waiting behind him in the automated checkout lines at the grocery store while he fumbled his way through the time saving machinery.
“The coal of the heart becomes the diamond of the soul.”