I was in my pajamas, standing on my bedroom balcony and looking over my backyard, admiring its tranquil beauty in the moonlight, when I saw the two skunks on my patio. I wasn’t concerned since they were climbing the fence and appeared to be leaving.
But then—oh no! I heard the “clack” of the doggie door and realized that my greyhound, Olivia, wasn’t at my side. I rushed downstairs, but it was too late.
Olivia had caught one of the skunks and was tearing into it, chunks of skin and fur flying everywhere, blood spraying the patio floor and sliding glass door. I managed to drag Olivia inside when I saw the skunk’s partner re-entering the yard, looking for his mate. I tried closing the doggie door but the angry skunk was forcing his head through the door, snarling and trying to bite my bare heels as I used them to push his head backward. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the skunk was joined by two equally rabid rabbits that were also growling, biting, and shoving their heads through the doggie door trying to enter my home.
Then the skunk lifted his tail and a flume of white spray shot out, covering my entire patio in a putrid veil of white mist like a fog machine at a concert. The foul fog started creeping through the doggie door, violating my beautiful home, my peaceful sanctuary. It burned my eyes, my throat, my nostrils, and I realized I’d lost the battle….
I woke up with a start, gasping for air, my heart pounding like a jackhammer. The symbolism of the dream did not escape me.
Just a few weeks ago my neighbor had told me about the excruciating pain she was experiencing from her sciatica. But earlier this day, when I asked her husband how she was doing, he told me the pain turned out to be, not her sciatica, but stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized. She was now under the care of Hope Hospice.
A few days prior I had visited a family member fading away from inoperable pancreatic cancer. And this Friday marks my beloved mother’s five year anniversary. She died just three weeks after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Cancer. Damned fucking cancer. Insidious, invasive, and quietly aggressive, snaking into homes, destroying lives, shattering hearts.
Eventually I fell back into an uneasy sleep. But the malodorous stench of that dream haunted me for days.