Sunday, August 30, 2009

What Dreams May Come

by Lisabet Sarai

The vast room stretches two stories up to a sky-lit ceiling. The trainers bustle about in white leather miniskirts and heeled boots, their hair pulled back into severe pony tails that shimmer down their trim backs. The slaves are shackled to walls, or more accurately, to jointed cantilever frames that extend out from the walls and support all manner of interesting and embarrassing poses.

I am one of them, a novice, recognized by the minions of the mistress for what I am, enticed here by their veiled promises. I am naked, bound and gagged, unable to move. I am simultaneously aroused and terrified.

My trainer, a stunning brunette with crimson lips, approaches me with an enema bag. “You must be empty,” she says, “so the mistress can fill you.” I nearly come from excitement and terror.

The scene shifts to an outdoor cafĂ©. My own master and the mistress drink espresso at a wrought iron table. I crouch at my master's feet underneath, listening to their conversation. “She did well,” the mistress comments. “You've done a good job preparing her.” The pride I feel at pleasing her and showing off my master's skill is almost more intense than my sexual desire.

The above is part of a real dream. It's not a fictional vignette concocted by my dirty mind—at least, not my conscious dirty mind. I've always had vivid dreams. I recall that my brother and I told each other our dreams when we were just kids. I tend to remember more of my dreams, I believe, than the average person, even though I don't usually write them down.

I dream recurring landscapes: the cities of my youth morphed and mingled together, full of buses and trains and subways; a mansion with endless halls and stairways that I think derives from a long ago visit to the Winchester Mystery House; an ocean-front resort during a storm, threatened by the gigantic waves; the rural town where I lived for more than twenty years. I dream repeating themes. I've been given the chance to return to college once again and I'm thrilled to be able to explore all the wonderful topics I had to pass up the first time around. I'm in college again and it's finals week, and suddenly I realize that I've completely skipped attending several of my classes. Evil creatures, aliens or magicians or monsters, surround my house, while I try desperately to find a place to hide. And of course I dream of both my husband and the lovers from my past, as well as new women and men who tempt and torment me.

Sometimes I dream entire stories, with plots and characters who have nothing to do with me. In my dreams these days, I know that I'm a writer. I actually understand, while I'm dreaming, that there's a narrative playing out on the screen of my mind and I try to remember the details when I wake. Often I do. For the most part, though, I haven't managed to get these narratives out of my head and onto the page before they fade. Often I'll remember the premise and the protagonists, but the emotion evaporates all too quickly. Once the excitement slips away, it's hard to motivate myself to actually fashion the dream into a waking tale. It seems stiff and empty.

I did write a poem based on the dream above. That dream was triggered by one of my rare reunions with my master. I've also got a hundred word “flasher” based on a dream:

Conversation with the Marquis

I dreamed of de Sade. He smiled gently down at me. "Come to me when you are ready."

Pretending lightness, I replied, "I never said that I was interested in such things."

"You need not say. I can see it in your eyes."

I knew he spoke truly. When I looked at him I saw ropes biting tender flesh, instruments of steel and leather, candles, clamps, searing pain, scalding pleasure.

Suspended in awful desire, I fled. Waking, I found a volume of his tales by my bedside, inscribed with a single word.


I don't think much of Freud's views on dreams, but I do believe that they can carry some sort of truth. My dreams reveal to me my passions and my fears. They show me who I really am. They also fascinate me with their emotional richness and their sensory detail. John Crowley's wonderful book Little, Big includes a character who spends as much time as she can sleeping, because she loves to dream. I'm not that extreme, but I've been known to wake in the middle of the night, go to the bathroom, then lie down again and resume a dream where I had left off.

I've also experienced a handful of dreams that I can only call prescient. In one, I sat by the hospital bed of a gravely ill former lover, trying to comfort him and ease his pain. I learned the next day that his father had committed suicide the night of the dream. In another, I dreamed that a dear female friend whom I hadn't heard from in months was going to have a baby. Within two days, an email from me informed me that she was in fact pregnant.

Actually, my explanation for these experiences is grounded more in psychic communication over distances than in precognition. I've never dreamed a future that didn't involve someone whom I cared about deeply. I suspect that there's some sort of emotional vibration—electromagnetic waves of some sort—that can be transmitted between people who have a strong bond.

I do dream quite a lot about sex (surprise surprise). Sometimes very strange sex, involving hermaphrodites and detachable penises and public masturbation, sometimes nothing more than a glorious flirtation which cloaks mutual desire. In the last few years, for the first time (that I remember) I've started to have orgasms in my sleep. At least it feels that way. Of course, sometimes it feels like I'm flying, too.

Even though my dreams have been directly responsible for relatively few of my stories so far, I feel as though they nourish my imagination. I use bits and pieces of dream imagery all the time. And I have written a number of dream sequences which borrow the tone of my real night journeys.

I've been thinking about this blog post for quite a while. Last week, I woke from a dream that may well have been catalyzed by my pondering the topic.

The blond young vampire sits on his motorcycle, his face serious. The air is heavy with erotic tension. “I've got to go,” he tells me and my girlfriend. “If I stay, I'll hurt you.”

I take his hand and place it on my breast. He caresses me through my clothing. Desperate lust overwhelms me. I know that he feels it too, that it takes every shred of self-discipline he can muster to hold himself back. “Maybe you could hurt us a little,” I say, trying to tempt him, unable or unwilling to let go of this intoxicating desire.

I wake, wet and trembling, before he can answer.


  1. Hi Lisabet!

    Really good post. Good topic too.

    I was thinking about your first image and your later image of mansions. I've learned pieces of the language of my own dreams, and one thing I know is consisttently true is that when I dream of a building or a house this is an image of the inside of my head as experienced by the unconscious. Its as though the sub consciousness experiences the mind as its natural home. It would be interesting to speculate what a mansion or a dungeon would represent as the inside world of your mind to your subconscious.

    Freud said some thing I've always found very interesting about dreams and the unconscious. Dig - the unconscious does not know the difference between fantasy and reality. Isn;t that interesting? The proof is simple. If I fantasize about sex with a woman vividly enough I'll get hard. But there is no woman. The unconscious doesn't know that. The body responds as though the woman is actually present, as though the act were actually occuring. This is also why you;re able to have orgasms in your dreams. My very first orgasm was in a dream when I was about 12 or 13 and of course I woke up with wet underwear. I was terrified, I thought I'd injured something mysterious inside.

    I miss dreaming about sex. Some of those dreams were pretty weird too. Especially the lucid dreams.


  2. Hey Lisabet,

    I figured your dreams would be pretty hot- you just seem to be that kind of person. Not sure what that says about me, when you read my post tomorrow. LOL Oh well!



  3. This is something you and I have in common. I'm a very vivid dreamer, and I've had a lot of dreams similar to what you describe, though mine tend to be more nightmarish. I wonder what Dr. Freud would say if we tag teamed him?

  4. Hello, Garce,

    I'm not sure that I agree with Freud. Or else, perhaps dreams are not 100% a product of the unconscious. Because it's not that rare for me to know, in a dream, that I'm dreaming.

    Your example about getting hard, imagining a sexy woman-- I think that's just a demonstration of my conviction that reality flows from the inside out. What is in your mind, your imagination, IS reality. You literally cannot tell the difference, even with your conscious mind. And our minds create our external reality, both subtly (based on our interpretations) and literally (by making things happen). I could tell some stories about that...!)


  5. Hi, Jenna,

    That's one reason I proposed this topic--I'm really curious to look inside other people's heads! Looking forward to your post.


  6. Hi Lisabet,

    Great post. This is going to be a very revealing week. I hope the glimpse inside my head doesn't disappoint.



  7. Hello, Helen,

    Everything about you is vivid, so I'm not surprised your dreams are, too.

    Actually, I dream some horror stories, too, but I didn't really want to bring them out on the blog. Too upsetting!

    I should say also that not all of my sex dreams are BDSM dreams, although I realize that is the impression one would get from reading my post!


  8. Hey, Ash,

    I'm never disappointed by your creations.


  9. I envy people who dream stuff like that - my dreams (when I can remember them) usually have me looking for someone or some place and never finding him, her or it.


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