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Never Look Away

Dream from last night. Putting it here. Current events, obviously, have been on my mind. ----------------------------------------------------

I am, quite suddenly, inside a wrecked vehicle. Some kind of SUV. I am a visitor or observer to this tragedy. I am sitting/hovering over where the driver should be. I am not the driver. The driver is dead. I have a vague awareness of his body in the bucket seat beneath me (although I do not physically intersect with that body). The front of him is covered with blood. It is clotting and slick, so dark in places, it's more like black pudding than blood.

There is a woman in the seat beside him. She is also dead. Her head lolls to the side by the window. There is blood spatter across part of the window, and there is a hole in the window, with the safety glass starred around it. There is blood all down her face. I can only see her one eye -- the right one -- it's open and staring. Her eye is dark brown. Her hair is black. Her skin is a deep brown. She looks to be in her twenties, maybe early thirties. I realize as I stare at her that she did not hit her head. She has been shot. At least one bullet caught her in the head, and there are flecks of things that shouldn't be on the outside of a body spattered on the window and a little on the headrest of her seat.

There is a dog in the car screaming, trapped somewhere on the floorboards. I can't see the dog, but I know that it's hurt badly. It screams without stopping -- a panicked, agonized, ugly noise, so loud and constant, I almost don't hear the woman in the backseat weeping and moaning and gulping for breath.

I turn in the driver's seat and I see the backseat passenger. She is an older black woman. Heavy-set. Her hair in braids, and while the whole of her hair isn't dyed blonde, some of it has been lightened, and it makes a pretty pattern in the braids, the faded blonde woven together with the brown.

This woman's skin is a different shade from the dead woman. Ashen. Perhaps because she's in shock. Her eyes are wide and her mouth hangs open as she stares at the dead woman in the seat. She is wailing and close to hyperventilating. There's something wrong with one of her legs -- she's right behind the driver, and I think his seat has been pushed back on her. She's wounded, perhaps trapped, but what has gutted her and riveted her to that seat more than any physical pain is the horror of seeing that younger woman slumped over in the front seat, the one eye staring at some point under the dash.

I think the younger woman may be her daughter.

I -- I am there and not there, not a physical presence, but perceptible. This often happens to me in dreams, especially dreams like this one, where I seem called to witness a terrible event.

I reach back to where the woman's hand rests on the shoulder of the driver's seat (there is a police officer at the wreck -- more than one, but I only see the black officer when he comes up to the passenger side of the vehicle). He breaks the window, yelling to shut that damned thing up. It's a dachshund mix, its back broken so the animal looks bent in half. It's out of its mind with pain, cringing at the feet of the woman in the front seat. When he sees it, he shoots it.

I know now where the bullet came from that killed the woman. Bullets. I think there were several fired -- I don't know what killed the driver. I never turn around to see the state of the windshield in front of him. I get the feeling the air bag didn't deploy, because of the state of his chest -- like the steering wheel smashed all his ribs. But there is so much blood on him, around him, I suspect he also has been shot, and this is why the vehicle wrecked.

The older woman -- I want to help her, feel compelled to ease some of her pain. And if she keeps staring at the dead woman in horror, I'm afraid she's going to slip further into shock.

I reach out my hand to touch her hand. When my fingers cover hers, she can see me. Her eyes flick in my direction.

I say, "Look away."

I mean it to be soothing. I mean for her to stop looking at the blood and the flecks of bone and brain.

She doesn't take it that way.

She meets my eyes with a fierce, proud, and unyielding passion. Her eyes are hazel, tipping toward green. In a low voice rough with tears but wrapped around steel, she says, "Don't you say that to me. I will look. I will memorize what she looks like in this moment. I will never blink or look away. To look away is to deny her death. Not this day."

The officer starts getting a door open then. I have no idea why shots were fired. I have no idea what started this, or how it ended. At her words, so full of determination and anger -- anger that I would even suggest she look away -- I begin withdrawing, chastened.

The dream fades. I wake with her words still lingering in my mind.

I will look.