Illumined by the eerie glow of a full moon, Michael’s breath rose up towards the forest canopy. The cool, damp air left his skin feeling wet. Something brushed the back of his neck sending a chill through him that radiated to every nerve. He quickly turned to the left and saw a crow fly up to a tall pine, to a sentry position. Michael took a deep breath and started to walk on the path lit by the moon. He couldn’t quite see the bright lunar disk behind the trees, but its light broke through and guided him.
The bushes to his right rustled. He stopped. A small figure ran ahead behind the trees.
“Wait! Who are you? Where am I?” Michael started to run after the figure.
The only response was a giggle. He glimpsed the silhouette of a little girl.
He ran to her. When he was nearly upon her, he saw only her shadow. “Where are you?”
“Everywhere,” the small voice echoed from all around him.
Michael was about to step on the elusive shadow when it vanished. It didn’t move away. It was just gone.
Suddenly he didn’t feel very well. The forest seemed to be reaching towards him. The crow started to caw raucously and swooped down. Michael ducked and then started to run. He ran and ran, stumbling on the uneven ground and gnarled roots as he went. There seemed to be no end to the woods. His lungs soon burned with every breath he took. Where was he?
Just as he was about to give up, he found an opening in the trees. He ran out of the forest with the crow still just behind him. He kept running until he came to the edge of a cliff. Its sharp edge abruptly fell away into darkness. He nearly lost his balance as he gazed down into the blackness. He turned his head. The crow was still coming. It seemed huge now, as if it had grown large enough to grab him. Michael looked back down into the abyss. It felt like he should jump and at that moment he realized he was in a dream.
As he fell and fell he wondered if he would ever land. If he did, would he die in the waking world if he died here? Then his arms started to tingle. They felt so light and as he lifted them he heard the swoosh of feathers so he started to flap his arms. His fall slowed. His arms were now wings. He pumped them and started to move upward. He was no longer falling but flying.
With a few flaps of his wings he rose out of the abyss and turned back towards the stand of ancient pines. From above they looked peaceful, like silent Druids robed in silvery moonlight. He flew to the highest tree and landed. The crow that was chasing him now circled above. He flew up to it and then realized, just as he woke up, that he was a crow, too.
On his back in bed, Michael stared at the ceiling. Though sweat ran down his temples, he smiled to himself. Switching on a lamp, he eagerly sat up and grabbed his dream journal from the bedside table. He finally had his first lucid dream – and what a dream it was.
For the first time in months he felt he was coming back to life. Spending nearly six months nursing his dying father back in Nova Scotia had taken a greater toll on him than he realized. When he moved to California he had hoped he would feel like composing again. It had been months since he moved and so far nothing. But now he felt something shift. Becoming the crow in the dream and flying out of the darkness was a good sign. Maybe his muse had returned.