The Dream is Always the Same

    Bert Godding

    The dream is always the same…


    It begins, without preamble or prelude or explanation, with Torvi in the middle of a blizzard on a windswept, desolate tundra.  The winds are the coldest, the most biting, the young Targ warrior has ever felt.  Winds that blow sideways and snow that sting like hornets.  A cold so sharp that it steals the breath from her mouth and blinds her eyes. 


    She staggers forward, lurching and leaning against the wind.  Her newborn infant is clutched to her chest, and Torvi is desperately trying to shield the child from the deadly wind and snow with her own body.  She will stumble from time to time, catching herself with her free hand, lest she fall and crush the wee babe.  The snow drifts are up to her knees.


    Torvi drives forward without reason or thought.  She knows, with the certainty of dreams, that she must go forward.  That forward brings something – solace, or hope, or safety – and that is all that matters.  She knows that her daughter will die if they stay in the storm.  Her own safety is not even considered.


    The pitiless, drudging march goes on forever, it seems.  The sky shows no sun, no moons, only white in every direction.  Up ahead, just a grey smudge at first, and later forming the outlines of a man, is her dead husband, Brodhi.  He stands knee-deep in the snow, his intestines spilling out of his stomach from a ragged wound that looks like a smile.  His scarlet blood stains the snow in front of him, a welcome dash of color in this pale nightmare. 


    As always, he is gesticulating fiercely, and with purpose.  He seems to be screaming, but the storm’s winds and snow steal his words away.  Torvi knows that if she could just make out what he is saying, to understand his warnings or admonitions, that all would be made right.  That she would wake up on a bed of warm furs with her husband, and her baby at her breast.


    As always, she staggers towards him.  As always, her heart shatters as the blizzard swallows him up and carries him away. It is always then that she realizes that the baby has made no sound, not for some time.  She knows what comes next and knows that she does not want to look down at her only child.  But she has no choice.  She looks down.


    It is the smile that breaks her soul.  The dead, peaceful smile of the frozen child.  An irrational anger flashes through Torvi.  For a moment, the smile seems like betrayal.  As if the child is content with its fate, as if Torvi’s struggles meant nothing to her.  But it is a fleeting thought.  Heart-wrenching, soul-killing sorrow fill the void it leaves.


    Torvi sets the baby’s body on the snows, gently, reverently, only to have the storm swallow it up and whisk it away, as it did Brodhi.  Torvi lays down in the snows now, broken and beaten.  Her purpose gone, her anger spent, she just wants to sleep. 


    Before she drifts off, she whispers to the wind.  “At least tell me your name, little one.”  And the wind answers her in a voice that is neither young, nor old, but definitely female.






    Torvi awakens slowly, savoring the dream, trying to remember it all.  It is a cruel dream, yes.  But it is all she has left of her family.


    The details fade, as they always do.  She would do just as well to grab the breeze, or bottle the sunshine.  She fully wakens and quickly wipes the tears from her face. 


    It is the only thing she appreciated about the wastes of Norlund.  At least there, the tears froze before anyone could witness your weakness.