Saturday, 16 July 2011

Dreaming of tigers

Two nights ago, my wife dreamt of tigers. In the morning she told me. A tiger bounding through the house, big and terrible yet somehow innocent as a kitten, purring and growling with ferocious hungry joy.

I said, I suppose it is the dog.

She said, Yes, when he sleeps beside the bed I hear him breathing and stirring in his sleep.

I said, Like all dogs he dreams of hunting.

She said, The dreadful chase, the murderous lunge, the bloody feast and bones.

I said, He is never happier than in those dreams.

She said, And in my sleep I must have heard him dreaming, and so I dreamt of tigers.

The next night I went to sleep after a long sad day, and I dreamt I was standing outside on the lawn as a tiger came towards me, his great paws pounding the earth like drums. I looked into the tiger’s face and loved him, and I was seized by a sudden horror that I would be torn and eaten in one of his savage spasms of reckless unselfconscious joy.

When I awoke I told my wife. Had I dreamt of tigers because of the happy snarling sleeping dog beside the bed? Or was it my wife’s slow breathing that I heard as she lay beside me, naked and dreaming of tigers, a dark tendril of her imagination creeping across the bed into my mind, her quickening heartbeat echoing like dreadful footfalls in my dream? Was it my own dream tiger that I saw, or hers?

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