Iris Oasis

4 minutes, 44 seconds

Your dad’s house is a place of memories.

The present doesn’t exist there and probably never will. It remains stuck in time, and although you only spent the weekends, it remains a place firmly seated in your dreams. One dream took place on a cold misty morning in the backyard. On reflection, the chill and mist themselves were out of place compared to the usual glaring heat barely avoided by hiding in the shade on a typical day. As you walked down the yard towards Grandma’s house, you saw your two cousins standing at a random cluster of trees surrounded by bright purple, yellow and blue Irises. It was strange to have always been disturbed by this oasis in the middle of your dad’s three acres, especially when it was so beautiful, but there was a voice in your head that said there could have been snakes in those flower stalks; poisonous snakes just waiting to bite young girls.

That day there were three young girls, and you were standing perilously close to the cluster of trees and flowers, but there was something else there; a large hole in the ground at the base of the tree. Something you’d never seen in all the times you’ve walked to Grandma’s house because you always kept your eyes down when walking there, watching for snakes. You opened your mouth to say something to your cousins, but nothing came out. They looked at you, nodded, and began to descend into the hole.

It was a cave. You processed it with surprise, yet it felt like you’d been there before. It was a forgotten place rather than one unknown. The cave was huge, dark, and colder than the chilly mist outside. You could see your breath puffing out in front of you like smoke rings, and the walls were covered with a light sheen of frost that reminded you of a frozen mug of beer just pulled out of the fridge that you poured for your step-dad when you were home. That was one of the first things you learned when your mom married. That and how much salt was just enough. 

You went deeper into the cave, trying to keep up with your cousins, who always seemed just out of reach. When you finally caught up to them, there was a man in a black suit lying on the ground with blood on his face and hands. He clutched his leg, and the moss around him looked like a dark, bloody sponge. You looked from your cousins to the man and could see them talking, gesturing, but couldn’t hear what was said. Regardless, there was twisting in your stomach. A distinct lump of ill omen that felt like it might have pushed its way out of your throat at any moment. You couldn’t hear their words at all, but you knew what was happening. 

You wanted to help him. Find help. Pull him out yourself; whatever it took to get him out of this pit. You looked at your cousins. They were looking at you, waiting for your input. You didn’t bother saying anything this time. You weren’t sure who this guy was, even though just like the cave- you should know but didn’t. Just like the cave, you felt the knowledge that this man was wrong. He was a dangerous snake, and if he were allowed to leave, he could bite little girls. 

So you said nothing. You did nothing. When your cousins turned and walked out, you followed them; his outraged screams followed you out. It grated on you because the voice in your head cried that everyone deserves a chance. People die, but this was murder. Even if he were to hurt again, how could you leave him there to die? You swallowed the lump in your throat. Once outside, you didn’t even have time to cover your ears before the loud BOOM echoed, and the ground shook, making you stumble away from the trees and flowers. You watched as the dirt exploded around the hole, and it shook until the remains looked like a freshly dug grave. They had blown up the hole. Again, an anguish that you couldn’t explain ripped through you. It was too late now. He was trapped. Again you feel the pull to find someone. Tell someone that a man was trapped beneath the ground in a cave beneath the Iris Oasis. 

You didn’t tell anyone. You just woke up. When you opened your eyes, they were wet. The voice said that it was okay. It was only a dream. You didn’t murder anyone, and even if you had, it was a form of self-defense. He would have hurt you if you gave him a chanceā€¦ but you didn’t, so you cried anyway. Later, when you were eating dinner with your best friends, you thought about him. It had been two days since you had the dream. Was he still in the cave? Did he die from blood loss, or is he still there, starving to death while you eat and force yourself to smile. You told your friends, blushed, and smiled it away as if it was a silly thing, and they agreed. They laughed and said, “Wow. You have the craziest dreams. Remember that time you dreamed that you lost your beta fish in a Mayonnaise jar?” You faked a laugh, but it bothered you.


It’s been a year since then, and unlike many of your dreams, you’ve not had it again, but when you go to your dad’s and approach that cheap-ass yellow house, you push down a sick feeling in your stomach and wonder.