Dale Culpepper

Henry and Laura are a married couple in their early 30s. Laura is weak and sickly, either from depression or exhaustion. She rarely gets out of bed. Henry is preoccupied with the vivid dreams he’s been having for months now. Dreams that keep him from sleeping through the night. Visions, really. Such as the one about an old man clinging to the shin of a giant child who is trampling a small town. And the one of a little girl who must keep scooping hundreds and hundreds of dead goldfish from a pond.
To get these dreams and others like them out of his head, Henry spends his sleepless nights jotting them down on sheets from a memo-pad and storing them away in a shoebox. Henry doesn’t share any of this with Laura. She simply thinks he has insomnia.

At work Henry spends a lot of time poring over torn paper towels and phonebook pages on which he’s scribbled these dreams. He talks with a co-worker who claims to be familiar with dream interpretation and he thumbs through books at the library– writings from Freud and Jung, even poems by William Blake.

At home Henry discovers that his sickly wife has been trying to get some work done, looking over the blueprints of a new building she is helping to design. They discuss moving his desk into the guest room and about going to church this Sunday, which is Easter. Henry doesn’t want to do either.

In the middle of the night Laura rises to find Henry in the den, the coffee table littered with scraps of Henry’s dreams. She notices his poor attempt to draw one of them. The two argue about moving the desk, something Laura wants to do right then. Henry finally relents.

Despite the bulk and weight of the thing and Laura’s frailty, the two are able to slide the desk into the guest room, which we see obviously was at one time decorated for a son they either had or were to have had. And Henry sees, for the first time, Laura’s struggle to fight her depression and the physical exhaustion it has caused.
At the sunrise service at church, Henry sleeps while the minister speaks on the story of the Resurrection. Laura nudges him awake and he recalls the dream he was just having. He starts jotting like mad on the back of the church program until Laura stops him. She reads what he’s written, then draws it: A picture of Jesus’ face with his tomb for one eye and the stone for the other, so that it looks like he’s winking.

Afterwards, in the park, Laura asks Henry what else he dreams. Back home in the garage Henry finds a glass jar filled with old dreams he’d written down and sealed up. He breaks the jar and goes inside, where Laura sits drawing. On the tables, across the floor, and on the walls are dozens of Henry’s dreams that his wife has drawn. Art, really. Simple. Beautiful.

The next morning Henry wakes, having slept through the night for the first time in months. Laura is not in bed. Henry finds her instead in the guest room where she’s been covering the baby-blue walls with primer. She looks almost healthy for once. Then, behind the door, on an easel, Henry discovers a watercolor painting of himself sleeping through the night. Dreaming.

Copyright 2006 Dale Culpepper
All Rights Reserved