“Goddess Above, how do I banish nightmares?”

I’d been coming to see Her every night since I was dragged by the halo, flesh skeletal and tearsodden, back into this mostly godforsaken town a thousand fathoms deep in enemy territory.

E.B. had told me to come back to the state where I first struck the earth, that she’d visit, that it was okay, that I aught not commit suicide, that her love never waned. This was what I needed. I always regretted leaving her for The Demon Pit, Virginia on the shallow excuse of “all my worldly possessions”. I never answered her missives, to my shame. She’d be horrified at the truth of what had become of me; of what had changed in me, of what I’d seen, of what I’d been forced to do, of what I’d done even though I wasn’t forced to, of what I’d let happen to me, of what I’d done to myself.

I always brought Her tribute. I always brought songs. I sometimes brought burnt offerings, blood, morsels, rarities, unrequited love, or painful truths. I always brought dreams. Sometimes they were my friends. Almost always they were nightmares.

On the walks to my holy places, I would sing songs to E.B. and bid the wind carry it to her, songs of apology, songs of explanation, songs of justification, songs of obsessive love, songs of hard choices, songs of hard living, songs of despair, songs of memory.

The one I remember most fondly was my closest friend and only lover that whole year. We met in an airport in the Unreal. I’m mostly blind in dreams, whatever that means, but from the acoustic qualities I can conceptualize at least a wireframe image of my surroundings. Sometimes flashes of faces appear when they’re close enough.

This dream and I were close. I longed for its touch almost as much as I longed for E.B., though I certainly rang it up less frequently. My yearning for it brought me so much pain, but Goddess Above! the love!

Most other dreams I met would sooner corner me and rape me for my memories. Their favorites were The Fall From Elysium, The Longest Night, and The Shifting Highway. They’d pin me down, take my halo in their dripping maw, open the base of my neck with a filthy claw, and tune me like a transistor radio until my flashback hit the right frequency. Often they wouldn’t get bored all night, so they’d keep me half-dreamstate for hours after my eyes started flickering, edging themselves on my suffering, their half-translucent sex organs twitching over my face as I sobbed and screamed in agony.

Every night I would enter trance whether at the nearby chapel or lying in bed, eyes locked on my favorite mirror, eyes rolled back in my head, eyes darting around the room at every sound, eyes checking the windows downstairs. I liked to close my eyes and type fast as fury – it was more legible in the morning that way, though less long-lived than my illegible paper prayers as I grew quickly tired of the mortals I texted and never remembered to save logs, not for years I wouldn’t start.

I passed through the veil enough to take it by the hand and lead it to a meadow near the chapel at the edge of the unreal. I bid it strip nude with me, which it obliged. Bathed in moonlight and warm raindrops, instrument case open and full, hand-in-hand with my ethereal beloved I took in hand a freshly-plucked sprig of rose and pressed its wicked three-inch thorn (thick mauve base, hooked red tip) deep as I could into my thigh. It was crawling with oligonychus ilicis, red mites, spider food, soon swarming my pubis, soon sopping with blood. I sang the words revealed to me by divine inspiration:

“slipping off my shoes, letting fall my dress,
standing moonlight-clad with flower-crowned tress,
es fall my toe through muddy puddle glow,
breaking skin to vein thelema spell had sain,
push in a thigh the thorn of a rose in the rain,
to break the haze so long clouding my sight,
freeing all my missing grace and might,
to shimmer in your pale and misty light,
by the sacrifice of this winsome White,
banish every mare of every night,
my Goddess, my Mother,
my soul’s great delight,
grant this boon to your acolyte, I pray!”

It was frozen in fear. It used to have a name, you know. I used to know it. We used to whisper each others’ names back and forth in our hidden places, draw them on each others’ favorite surfaces, moan them while fingering each other in the airport bathroom, insert them into conversation just because we liked the way it shook the air. I used to know a lot about it. Despite our differences, we had much in common. We’d both become stuck in-between. We’d both been left behind. We both loved to lounge by the fountain. We both loved music and conversation and turning life into poetry. The betrayal in its eyes was understandable, but one of us had to move on and Goddess Inside it would be me, the one with a Purpose, the one with a Fire, the one who was Real.

My athame slid between us, slit its umbilical connection to me, slid between its ribcage, splayed it open in an act of sordid slaughter, spraying us both with paleblood and ectoplasm. The athame imagined it was one of those nightmare creatures as the athame threw its weight into the handle and levered its chest fully open. The athame wiped its eyes. The athame’s eyes burned and teared up from the gore. The athame struck again and again and again. The athame held her heart still with one hand while its blade split it in two. The athame put half in its mouth for the Goddess Inside and half in the moon’s wet reflection for the Goddess Above. The athame didn’t stop singing.

“The Goddess Inside shall Not be Denied, The Goddess Above shall Drink of my Love!”

I didn’t even do it. It was all Her. Her consecrated tool, Her holy vessel, Her sacred athame, Her wiry arm, Her weary eyes, Her circular song, Her unbending will, Her only demand, Her earnest desire, Her pain put to rest, Her protection from fear. I watched its corpse till sunrise.

The body would’ve disappeared in the sunlight were it a true dreamborn White, but it didn’t. I buried it in an old clay quarry deep in the woods at dawn. It was probably just a trapped fae. It was enough to make magick happen and it was enough to sate my Lady for a little while.

Just like that, I was reborn. The music flowed daily; even by the sun’s light I sang secrets and by the moon I couldn’t contain it at all. My halo dimmed for a while, but with new truths and new light it grew brighter than bright by autumn. There were no more nightmares of course, but I also no longer phoned E.B forty times a day, no longer wrote her songs or explanations, no longer spilt blood and stained her name on sacred stones, no longer cried out to her on the wind on my way to ceremony.

I wonder about my dream lover sometimes. Most dreams pass by in the night. I’ve never known another to speak with me so passionately, so earnestly, so effusively, so much, well, so much like E.B.. So much like she was in my memory, at least.

I caught her on the phone once, a rare relapse. Her little sister answered and recognized me, handed the phone over. With a hollow voice she told me she’d call back later, but knew she wouldn’t. She sounded different, though. Weaker. Bleaker. Soulless.

E.B. used to have a name, you know. I used to know it. We used to whisper each others’ names back and forth in a public park covered in blankets making out until the cops came, travel deep into the woods to spray-paint them on a bridge, moan them while fingering each other in her childhood bed, insert them into conversation just because we liked the way it shook the air. I used to know a lot about her.

I asked after her last year. My friend just changed the subject.