And then it stops.

The alarm goes off while I am in mid-dream. If I am lucky, in the next seven minutes of snooze, I can find my way back to the source, and reenter the dream. I do, almost as often as I wish. My mind holds that liminal space open for me, for a brief chance to dream again.

Then the day begins. The magic dissipates. I pay more attention to who is driving too slowly in the left hand lane. As I walk into work, I pick up trash that has blown across the field. The waking life demands attention that is less precise. Look here. Look there.

Everything is wasted precision—the torn edges of paper and the litany of requests. Does anyone ask for wings? Or fire? Or a woman with the body of an otter? For these requests, I have answers. Instead: “Do you have a spool of waxed black thread?” “Are there any spare dull scissors?” “Did you find my box of dry grey dirt?” And for all those questions, I have answers to unravel expectations, but all that is sought is an affirmation or a negation. All the grey dirt is gone.

To be torn from enchantment—disenchanted. All the wild dreams strung down like Gulliver, or—worse—dismissed by the Houyhnhnms for being too dull-witted. Or worse yet, being called small-minded by Lilliputians. Why does the disenchanted day scorn me or shrink me? Why does the king insist that the magician paint pips on the nine of clubs, when he could, to everyone’s delight, require me to transform his blank card into a window or a mirror or a door out of which an unexpected, dark-haired Alice will tumble?

Disenchantment is not simply the end of magic; it is the end of hope. “I have lost hope,” is the death sentence of enchantment. Hope and enchantment live in an unknown future. I have cursed myself—or is it a blessing? I hope it is a blessing—by wedding myself to enchantment, by casting my lot with the unknown. Nothing else will do. The known—the comfortable, the predictable, the routine—feels like an iron chain. Disenchantment is the foundry in which that chain is forged, and when I am at my worst, I discover that I hold the hammer and the tongs. I shape the links that will bind me and sink me beneath an ocean of worthless ink. How did I become the master smithy of my discontent?

I would trade all the tonnage of certainty—battleship chains and a two ton anchor—for a glimmer of hope. With only a glimmer, a brief glint from behind distant clouds, a mere twinkle at the horizon during the long watch at night—I could have the strength to cast away the whole cold length of them. Just the faintest chance.

What would happen if I stood in the full light of a different day? Of a day made clear by dreams, by magic, and by enchantment? I would lift the world—an easy burden. Wake up. Wake up and dream.

Published by

Brian Brennan

I am a writer and a teacher. I have lived in Philadelphia, Binghamton, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Northern Virginia. I have sailed on the ocean and flown over the North Pole. I write fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

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