I had a dream last night that was basically a full-length movie. Now, I’m no stranger to weirdly elaborate dreams — me and my sister share that weird phenomenon in spades. In fact, she’s usually the one with the more reliably crazy dreams. But last night… I’m pretty sure I was incepted by Stephen King last night.
There are a few bits where I elaborated slightly more than what I actually saw/“heard” in the dream, but it was mostly just to clarify and make it more understandable. Everything below was very much in the dream — I’m just putting it in words. I wish I was this good of a writer when I used my brain by choice… *sigh*
Here we go:
The story, set in modern day, centers around a guy (conveniently played by Michael Keaton) and his teenage daughter after the wife/mother dies unexpectedly. The daughter, an only child, had never been particularly close with the dad because he was always coldly distant. She starts resenting him more after the death of her mom, especially since she had suspected he was cheating on the mom for the last few years of their marriage. She becomes hell-bent on catching him in the lie to redeem her mother, employing her best friend and next-door neighbor to help her investigate.
They start digging into the dad’s past and uncovering bits of clues — old women’s clothing that isn’t her mom’s, a rented storage unit containing piles of charred black antique furniture, old photographs in the dad’s dresser, stuff like that. During this time, the dream keeps cutting to these flashbacks of a young man in the 20’s who fell in love with a young black woman — we see that the couple ran away together to escape the violent racism opposing their marriage and built a small home in the woods where they could live their lives peacefully together. At the same time, we also see things from the dad’s perspective in modern day, who we gradually discover is hearing the voice of a woman in his head telling him to “tell her” because “I want to be free”. The father placates the voices and tries to continue on despite it.
Towards the end, the daughter and friend have enough information to know that the dad is hiding something, but not exactly what. Her best friend/neighbor feels they may be onto something strange, but the friend insists they interrogate her father. She confronts the dad and tells him she knows there’s another woman and that he’s hiding something, but the dad refuses to talk and just tries to leave. The daughter screams and hits the dad and grieves over the loss of her mother while her friend rushes in and tried to hold her back. The woman’s voice in the dad’s brain gets louder and louder, screaming at him that he should tell them the truth so their problems will all go away. The daughter yells that she wishes he father would have died instead of her mother. In a fit of rage, the dad yells back, “I would die if I could!” The daughter is taken aback, and about to ask what he means, when the daughter’s best friend gasps.
The best friend looks alarmed and starts running up the stairs. She comes back down from the dad’s bedroom holding a picture they found in his dresser: a black and white picture of a man and woman holding hands. The friend says that she knew she recognized the ring in the picture — that it is her mother’s wedding ring. The best friend starts freaking out and accusing the dad of being a stalker that followed her family, when she notices that the dad is currently wearing the ring from the picture. She pieces it together and looks at him, says, “Are you..?” A woman’s voice (the one in the father’s head) appears to say, “Yes.” Out of thin air materializes the woman from the flashbacks out of the 1920’s, who the best friend recognizes as a young version of her own grandmother.
The apparition tells the girls that the father is her husband (WAS her husband). She tells them of how they were together, living happily, supposedly free of the oppression they faced for their interracial marriage. However, about a year later, they were discovered and, in the middle of the night, fell victim to an attack by the KKK and were burned alive in their home. The woman died in the fire, while the father barely made it out with his life. Dying in the grass behind the still-burning home, the man was approached by an angel who told him that he could save his life. The angel could reverse time back to the previous day to allow the man to escape the home and save his wife. However, for this one day, the angel would require a whole, pure life of dedication as a thanks for the deed. The angel warned that there would be trials that would test his dedication, and that he must be sure to protect the secret of the angel’s gift. The father instantly agreed, was sent back in time to the previous day, and was able to help his wife (the grandmother) escape so they weren’t at home for the fire.
The father lived the rest of his life with the wife and their children, dedicating his life to God in the name of the angel that saved him. But upon his death, the man was torn from his body by the angel, who reminded him that a whole life of dedication was needed in order to repay his debt. So the man was forced to live again, starting at the beginning in a new life, as a different man. Growing up, as he started regaining his memories, he became haunted by the vision of his former lover (the grandmother), telling him that she was kept from ascending to heaven after death because she was still bound to him by the angel’s wish. She says she wants to be freed, and asks if he will tell someone and get help, as there must be some way out of the angel’s deal. The man wishes to free her, but he knows he must uphold his deal with the angel, and instead lives his life with the restless spirit of the grandmother by his side. He takes a wife, and raises her newborn baby as his own because the baby’s real father was out of the picture. But even through this, he couldn’t live with the thought of missing his original family’s life. So he moved next door to them, to watch his daughter and granddaughter live their lives, as he fought to remain distant and protect the secret so he could serve his whole life in dedication to the angel.
The best friend breaks down as she realizes the man in front of her is her grandfather. The daughter reels from the fact that the man is not her father, that he is related to her best friend instead, and is still in shock when the grandmother’s apparition reminds the father that his life, now tainted, will not satisfy the angel. The man starts shaking his head and apologizes to the apparition, saying he is sorry he let her down so much in this life, and that he will finally try to get help and figure out how to free her spirit.
The grandmother stares, then begins to laugh, getting louder and louder. The form begins to change. The father, the daughter, and the best friend now find themselves sitting before the angel. The angel shakes it’s head and says “I told you there would be trials. I told you there would be consequences. It seems you are not capable of living the full life I require.” The man starts shaking his head and, weeping, says he has been tortured for so long when all he wanted to do was save his wife. He says he has devoted half of his last lifetime and all of his current one to the angel and God, and that he can’t believe in a God who would let him suffer this way. The angel laughs and says, “Who said there was a God?”
The angel’s features begin to morph again, its hair growing sickeningly greasy, its hands coating in something black and dripping, and its robes turning a crusty blood red. The “angel” says that the if the man wishes, he can try again in his next life to fulfill their deal. Or, if the angel cannot get its life’s repayment from the father, then the man can instead choose for the angel to take the life from an already pure soul. The angel glances at the two girls in the room.
The father and the girls stare at each other in silence. The neighbor is just silently crying into her knees on the floor, and the daughter is yelling and weeping at her father, asking how he can even consider putting the responsibility of his curse onto the two of them. He keeps mumbling, “I can’t do this again,” and, “I was just trying to do the right thing.” Amidst the daughter’s screaming cries, the father looks down, and points a limp finger at the daughter. The angel turns to the daughter. She looks desperately to the father who refuses to look at her. The daughter falls backwards and tries to clamber away, but as we see the best friend on the floor and the father looking down and away, her cries suddenly stop.
The friend looks up from the floor, seeming to be stunned into confusion. She looks around for the daughter, but she is no where to be found. She starts screaming for her, but she is no where. The best friend runs up to the father and shakes him, trying to ask where the daughter went, but his eyes are far away. The friend runs out of the house screaming and looking for the daughter, and the father smiles to himself, saying, “You look so much like her.” Looking resigned and solemnly at peace, the man walks up the stairs, and we hear a door shut.
Then, hearing the friend still screaming for the daughter, I woke up.
So, understandably, early this morning, I slowly arose in my bed going, “Uhhh… what the hell was that?”
It took me a long while to really wake up after this one. I’ve only had one other dream in my life where my subconscious surprised me with this level of detail and plot twists, but it didn’t even hold a candle to this one. Aside from a few obvious plot holes, the lack of NAMES for the CHARACTERS (would have really loved if my brain had done me that solid), and other logistical problems, I thought this was a pretty damn fine dream for someone unknowingly improvising in their sleep.
Although, I wonder if it’s considered plagiarism if I steal the idea from my subconscious to turn into something more… Hmmm.