Honey

In a resort — possibly in Europe — with my family and some family friends. Beautiful grounds, a small valley, with water at the bottom, winding paths and patios for dining.

We are seated indoors at the restaurant. The atmosphere is nice, almost fancy, but one of the walls is swarming with millipedes and other bugs.My parents comment that this is rather unappetizing, to which I point out that we ARE in a valley near water, with a lot of trees. Some insects, I say, are almost inevitable. Plus millipedes aren’t so bad.

“There are even honeybees,” I point out, gesturing to a nearby tree. We are seated outside now. Bees swarm around the upper branches of the tree, circling several honey-dripping combs.

Now it is night, and we are in the lodge where everyone will sleep. The bees live in the rafters of a large public room. They are not a source of alarm. On the contrary, the honey practically pours from their work.

I am a kid again, collecting honey in a small jar. The honey is so abundant, I can hold the jar under a stream and fill it quickly. I drink the honey, delighting in its rare sweetness. It is luxurious, a treat from before civilization, unmediated by commerce or control.

The others have gone to bed, asleep in various rooms. I want to make a present of the honey to our friends’ daughter, so I find a cardboard tube with a plastic base. The tube is open along its length, though, so as it fills with honey I worry about it spilling out. There is a small refrigerator in my room, with a freezer on the bottom. I put the tube with the honey in the freezer, thinking this should keep it solid till morning.

Now the dream, up till now quite beautiful, turns terrifying. The honey, freezing, begins to expand. There is a sense of mounting alarm, of an explosion building. Flash of an animated Disney train whistle, frantically tugging at my sleeve to get me away from the freezer. It is too late! A huge chunk of frozen honey bursts open the freezer, startling the others awake. There is a cat partially frozen in it, crying in terror at being trapped. “Oh God! Oh God!” we are saying.

The dream-terror reaches a crescendo. I am panicked and appalled at the tortured animal. But I am also afraid and ashamed because my foolishness has broken the refrigerator, and I will get in trouble. It’s all gone suddenly, horribly wrong. I awake, screaming and gasping for air. My heart is racing and a chill of fear reverberates through my entire body.

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