A Red Garage Door and Tears of Protest: A Dream of Gaza

I dreamt I was somewhere in Gaza, desperately running and looking for a place to hide.

There were many children crying all around the area. A group of heavy cumulus gray clouds hovered above us all. They were pressing a cold and gloomy day upon us down below on the ground.

I looked up, and saw a drone pierce its way out of the sky. I’m startled; death angel is on its way! I begin to sweat! The air thickens and all oxygen disappears and runs away! Anxiety takes command and I start to hyperventilate! People panic and scream. Mothers, fathers and relatives all in a state of terror take hold of their child’s hand and seek refuge for protection against this flying beast.

The drone sizzles its way toward us while its whistling screech bites my ears. Like a hawk, the drone begins to swoop low as it draws closer to its victim.

I couldn’t run fast enough! I was running on sand!  The drone grew bigger with every second and moved fast in search of its prey; human lives. I caught sight of an old rusty pickup. My heart began to rapidly beat fast and punch hard against my chest. I dash towards the old rusty steel to protect myself from the flying metal of death. A thought flashes instantly, If I could only reach the truck I might survive the blast! The drone opens up and draws its claws ready to strike with a cluster bomb. It’s over I think. I expected the multiple stabbing of shrapnel to sink deep into my skin and all across my back as I desperately searched for cover. The bomb strikes the sand, busting a sandstorm up in smoke.

It fails to detonate!

I get up and continue to run and zigzag my way across the sand! There are soldiers on the other side of the fence running towards the city. I come across a big red garage door. Next to it are several tables covered with toys. The garage door suddenly springs open and dozens of children hiding inside this room run out to grab their toys. “The children!! Los niños”!! I panic and frantically extend both hands out and yell to the children to go back inside!  An elderly woman joins in and rushes the children back into the room and immediately pulls the garage door shut. I continue running through dense silent alleys empty of people scanning every crack and space to hide.

I see a cliff near what seems to be an ocean. I turn in that direction. I am suddenly joined by a young man. We are about to climb over a waggy and lazy barbed wire fence alongside a gentle safe safe-looking cliff. A soldier comes into view and catches sight of us and quickly peddles in our direction. He starts to unclip a grenade from his green olive uniform. Our kinetic energy stops us face-to-face with the soldier. We are eye to eye with the enemy. I yell, “Compañero” and again I extend my arms out in a plea. Silence wraps itself all around us!  His face and eyes reshape themselves. He no longer carries the look of death or vengeance. We acknowledge each other with quiet words. He puts the grenade back in his pouch and messages his team, “All is ok!” The soldier starts his way back down the sandy cliff. Both the young man and I turn the other direction and run back into the city and work our way in between smokey streets with a strong penetrating scent of sulfur.

We find an abandoned dimly-lit makeshift workshop with scattered tools on a dirt floor and broken windows. We rush in and take cover. I fall back behind two acetylene gas tanks. Next to me is an old welding hood. I picked it up. It is missing its dark protective lens. I bring it up to my face. I try to reduce the sight of the world I am experiencing through this rectangular space. There is nothing in sight all except a rubble of gray stones and debris. There is nothing to weld or build. I am blind to any point of reference that could provide any sense of direction. My adrenaline is dissipating, my hands start to shake and my legs begin to feel wobbly. I’ve gone deaf! I can no longer hear the far nor nearby explosions or the ding of the murderous flying bullets. I feel lost and disorientated.

Crouched behind two acetylene tanks I no longer am as frightened. Anger begins to install itself in me!  A tear of protest rolls down my cheek. My jaws lock up! I squeeze out the word, cobardes! cobardes! (cowards! cowards!). Cobardes, tolls inside my heart like church bells; loud vibrating clashes of steel. A baseball-size stone lying on the ground whispers to me, “cobardes.” I turn and look. In unison, we repeat, cowards! We reach towards each other, and together we clench, a tight fist and an angry cold stone. Cobardes tolls again!

Paintings by Jimmy Centeno.