Throughout this dream I'm touring a stunning musem. Someone I know has said that London has nice museums only I have a feeling that I am in a country where modern English is not routinely spoken. The museum halls seem wider because they are empty. It's unusually quiet but I enjoy the solitude and appreciate the lack of crowds. The room I'm in has oil paintings on the far eastern border but transitions into passages that lead to medieval fabrics and jewelry. I take my time examining an exquisite hand carved cameo, marveling at the delicate features that bring life to the gemstone. Next to it sparks from Catherine the Great's emerald earrings dance on crushed velvet. My jaded eyes burned as my breath fed the green fire.
Time passed as I moved along. I was alone but not really worried since my brother was sketching a statue and people in my family can easily lose themselves in the world of art. Through the next archway was a dead room hung with living tapestries. The largest one was divided, its lower left hand corner separated from the rest of the hanging. Drawn into the weaving I imagined maternal threads uniting as they sought the sundered fetal fragment. My mind was consumed by the story of the sword that had severed the material so it was some time later when I noticed that I had received a text. The message was friendly with the sender asking where I was. Impulsively I sent a picture with my reply. When I slipped my phone back into my bag I thought that maybe I shouldn't have shared my location. Then I realized that the museum was much darker than it had been.
When I couldn't reach my brother via phone I started walking faster down the halls which were now enormous. The place where I had last seen my brother was void of humanity. I sent him another urgent text praying that he had lost track of time while absorbed in a period piece. Lights flickered, dimmed and died. My blue white hands were frozen, fearful like the rest of me standing near ancient weaponry I could no longer see. A new text came through. Now the person who was trying to reach me earlier is angry with me for not getting back to them. Again they ask where I am. When I send a reply I see a list of missed texts expressing increasing degrees of concern. This person wants me to call and verify my safety. A death mask falls to the floor in front of me while I watched his name and number transform into strange untranslatable symbols.
Before panic sets in I realize that while I am alone, I am still safe. I take a few deep breaths, hold them, and remind myself that composure is necessary if I am going to remain calm. After sinking to the floor I ate my snack and drank some water. Once my blood sugar had returned to normal levels I felt foolish for having worked myself into such a state even though I was a sitting duck in a lake of darkness and hadn't observed any signs of patrolling security. The only lights I can see are those illuminating larger exhibits. Near twilight gave certain pieces a depth I hadn't perceived earlier, contemplation of my favorite pieces distracted me until I received a new text.
Unwelcome uneasiness returned when another call to my brother goes unanswered. Technically I'm not lost. I know where I am in relation to the hotel and I could walk back if I had to. I have a map of the museum and a small flashlight I borrowed from one of my daughters who was using it to read during the transatlantic flight. I drank another sip of water unsure of what to do next: find my brother or flee. More calls and texts arrive from the person who had been trying to reach me earlier. In my dream I know who he is however I can't say that I have ever met this person in real life. I avoid an open doorway, spot a sign for the bathroom and feel instantly safer in the bright glow of rectangular tile and circular lights.
Through another doorway is the main entrance. The fountain in front of the museum is off for the night. Benches line the perimeter and I think about how nice it will be to sit beside it and catch my breath once I'm free from this cageless prison. Just before I reach the doorway I pull out my phone. My back is to the coat check area when I remember that I had stowed my jacket and purse in a locker. Inside my purse is my twin pack of Epi-Pens. I don't dare leave without medication I may need so I'm scared but I force myself to return to the rented space.
Kneeling down I find everything just as I had left it. I grabbed my jacket and didn't waste time messing with the strap on my purse. I stood up, nearly tripping when I stepped on my dangling coat sleeve. My mouth was extremely dry but my water bottle was empty. I try ignoring the rushing sound in my head that seems unrelated to an actual noise. Out in the hall I ran towards the doors, unable to work the locks with my sweat slick hands. In a terrifying moment my fingers slip. I hit my head falling against the door, screaming without ever discovering whether the person reaching for me was a friend, or my deadly foe.