Ruth's Dream


. We were looking. We were looking as if something seriously depended upon our finding, but I was unsure what we were searching for—that is, until we found it. Aisle after aisle, we seemed to be hunting the elusive “Aisle 14”, the non-existent aisle, the aisle of no return—or perhaps we were just heading there but hunting something more tangible. I couldn’t pinpoint it, just yet.

. It was day-time, I think. Or day-time nearing night-time, the murky in-between, always an appropriate setting. We were stalking through the grocery store, one person always ten feet ahead of the other, mission-style, no eye contact no pause no slow absorption of breathing. We had come here to get it and we were going to get it and be gone. But get what? Ladybug lamps. The answer came simply, as reasonable as light spooling through a sewing needle: ladybug lamps. There was the thread! Immediately, as the realization lit up my mind, he turned, triumphant, a box in hand and a fervent gaze, an intensity trembling through his whole. It was a box of pasta, but lady-bug shaped pasta—the lamp kit, some assembly required. And then it faded and then

. It un-faded and I was in his house. In his living room. Surrounded by at least two dozen baby white tiger cubs, poking up from behind the couch, underneath the TV, on top of the shelf, crouched below the table. All of them mostly immobile, save for the helpless look of love and innocence actively radiating from their big round eyes and rendering captive all the people in the vicinity. And there were people—but it was hard for me to notice at first, because I just kept realizing that there was not him. There were people, yet, people and tigers aplenty, but not him and it took more than a few sludges of time to pass before I realized in front of me stood a little him, peeking out with none of the tentativeness of the tigers. Backwards, perhaps, the confidence. The little him was a little-she, and she stood in front of me, stepping on the table to even out our height a little bit and leaned forward, nuzzled my nose. “A nuzzle-kiss!” She pronounced, and the rest of the words got lost in the cute. There was a long yellow dress on the little-him little-she, and for a moment I thought that was where the sunshine came from, but then I noticed light-clumps all over the periphery.

. Ladybugs. The little ladybugs, there were a few in the living room, as though circling the heart of a prize, but mostly I saw them through the window. And I paused the adorable inside and opened the door, stepping out onto the steps of the unsure outside. The outside that felt something like an inside, raw and opened up and warm, trusting. There was only this familiarity, this comfort oozing from the earth because of the trail of lamps I saw leading out into the wild. Tracks. Bread-crumbs for the eyes. There was a path, I realized, long and winding and lit up on each side with ladybugs, wings spread open on top of the lamp like hearts, like hope, beckoning him to come back, to come inside. Little parcels of light and direction hunting him down to show the way home. They buzzed, faintly, shook a little bit, and I knew they were as alive as I was and I trusted them as love-beacons enough to close the door, turn back to the life there at the moment. I knew he was out there somewhere, looking, looking as if everything seriously depending on his finding and I hoped he knew that what he was searching for was home, waiting.

--Ruth Baumann