The International Writers Magazine: Night Dreams
Dark men haunt me at night
Just the slightest inclination that a stranger was present in my room, and I was fully awake.
My knee had been gently caressed. With no hesitation I jumped out of the comfort of my Habitat Ottori bed and tip toed to the guestroom towards where my intuition nudged me.
The room was newly painted, a feature, which in the darkness, could be smelt rather than seen. However, a fraction of light shone through the crack of the open window revealing that the paint buckets we had used were in the corner of the room, next to the shiny piano. I recalled that as I went out to get us dinner earlier in the evening, I asked Kayode to put them in the storage room, so that the sea breeze I enjoyed letting in wouldn't dry the paint. Had he forgotten to shift them over?
I swallowed a cold breeze, which blew in across my face, making the skin on my chest feel tense. Before returning to bed, I shut the window and carried the two buckets into the storage room. Perhaps it was merely the unusually crisp wind that awoke me in the first place.
The following night things got worse. I woke up to the feeling of pressure on my thighs, as though someone was giving me a leg massage. It woke me up in an abrupt manner, and for a while, I wondered how a dream could feel so real. My mind was awake now, I wanted to call Kayode, but the faint lines of the digital clock on the wall, reflected that it was way past his bedtime. Eventually I fell back asleep, only to soon be woken up again by the sensation of someone rubbing my left thigh. This time, I knew that it wasn’t a dream.
‘Who are you?’ I yelled, and switched on my night lamp.
There was no response, nor was there any proof that anyone had just been in my room. That is, apart from the finger marks on my thigh.
I walked to the guestroom and pulled the light string. The buckets were again in the left corner of the room. There were also two pairs of men's shoes by the piano stool. One pair looked new, the type of chunky Caterpillar boots that I wasn’t too fond of. The other was a pair of worn grey leather shoes, and they looked familiar.
Kayode rubbed his eyes as I opened the door. His hug felt limp as I flew into his arms and began to sob. As I made us tea, I explained the previous and the current night’s occurrences. I told him everything in detail; what woke me up, the cold breeze, the marks on my thighs, which had by then turned from pink in to a more defined purple-ish colour, I desperately wanted him to believe me. Kayode confirmed that he too definitely had moved the paint buckets. He admitted that whilst shifting them, he had spilt a tiny stain of paint on to my carpet even, and showed me the stain as evidence. As he showed me the stain, I realised that the shoes, which I'd also described in detail, were no longer there.
He urged me to get some sleep, and as he tucked me into bed, I sensed a slight reluctance in his kiss goodnight. Like most men, Kayode was rational and logical, and although he was worried he was also suspicious of how validated my panic was.
The succeeding nights all followed the same pattern. No sooner would I manage to fall asleep than the molesting would begin.
Kayode was now staying with me in my flat as the intrusions had become increasingly unsettling and intimate in nature. One night I woke up from the sensation of a tongue poking my belly button. That same night, Kayode did not wake up when I shrieked. In his sleep, he seemed to gesture that I should relax, before turning over to face the opposite side.
Although there was the evidence, such as the neatly arranged clothes and shoes in the guest room at nights, or the bruises, and always – the paint buckets, I began to contemplate the idea that I had lost my senses. This concern, coupled with Kayode’s influence, eventually took me to a spiritual healer/psychoanalyst/life coach (yes, she was an all-in-one mental health guru), in the dubiety that maybe my predicament was psychological after all. The doctor, who was much younger and prettier than I expected, told me that all women have dreams about male intruders at some point in their lives. It's one of the unspoken facts of life, she said. These dreams represent a fear that women innately feel towards the male collective and their ability to contravene on our rebelliousness. She told me that the psychosomatic term for these dreams is 'Dark-man dreams'.
In some cases, she further explained, dark-man dreams can be so potent that they leave physical traces in our real lives. The cure, she said, was to find out what 'unfinished business' was causing the dreams, so to speak. More often than not - it would be business with the 'self' such as fear of being alone or loosing ones identity, rather than anything to do with the 'dark man'.
A few nights later, I discovered despite my initial scepticism, that she was right. As I awaited the visit of my dark man I pretended to be asleep, keeping my eyes closely shut but wide-awake. At about three in the morning, I felt an unmistakeable presence in my room. My bed became remarkably cooler and despite total silence, suddenly I felt a touch on my ankle, as though someone was running his or her nails against my skin. The strokes traced up my inner leg all the way up to my crotch before stopping abruptly. I peeked through my heavy lashes but there was no one there. As I opened my eyes, the sensation stopped.
Nonetheless I followed the trail of cool air, which led me into the guest room. Two ex-lovers of mine were there, Jide and Igwe. They were discussing the way in which way I had performed sexually, taking notes from each other, wondering with whom my wilderness ran freer.
As I stood there watching and listening to them talk about me disrespectfully, making a mockery of my intimacy, I realised that my dark-man dreams were due to my feeling ashamed of some of the lovers I’d had in the past. Lovers, who had made me, feel cheap.
In that same moment, Kayode walked in to the room.
'Come,' he said, ignoring Jide and Igwe, 'It's time to sleep now.'
© Minna Salami June 2010
msafropolitan at gmail dot com
Minna Salami was born in Finland (to a Nigerian father and a Finnish mother), grew up in Nigeria, studied in Sweden, moved to Spain, then America, and then England, where she currently lives. She is a writer and a blogger whose work has been featured in magazines and newspapers such as African Writer, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Next 234, Pala Pala Magazine and upcoming anthology Hyperkinetic to name a few.
Her blog http://msafropolitan.blogspot.com is a source for some of her more general musings and ideas.