I’m dreaming. It’s been the same situation every night for the past few days, but with slightly different dreams.
First, I’m in a dark room in some unknown western zone, and I’m a hornworm. I’m a brown, foul, poisonous insect, about the size of a human baby. When I first started having this dream, I couldn’t move at all, but after having it continuously, I could finally move a little. Yesterday, someone came out of nowhere, opened the door, saw me, screamed, and ran away. That’s when I realized for the first time that apparently there was a creature other than me in the house, and that it wasn’t a bug, but a human being.
Then the scene changes, and I’m in a bright eastern place. Probably in the sun. I am a cabbageworm who can fit in the palm of a hand, and I’m surrounded by many humans. I wondered if I was feared, like in my earlier dream, but they seemed to treat me with much care and cherish me. In this dream, I can move normally, but I can’t get out of something similar to a cage. And as the dream progresses, I can see my body changing little by little. Apparently, I am trying to become a chrysalis.
And so I have those two dreams every night, and then I wake up. It’s a wonder why I even feel exhilarated when I wake up from these dreams, even though it can be exhausting to wake up and remember them so vividly. Today I flew away from my house in good mood.
As I’m flying, I hear a voice say, “Oh.” I turn around to see a woman with green hair and red checkered clothes. I wonder if I’ve met her before. She is holding an impressive large parasol. “Nice to meet you,” she says while I’m confused.
“I’m just a youkai living here in the corner of the flower garden. I’m sorry to stop you abruptly.”
“No, I’m fine. Do you need anything?”
She gazes at me with a blank stare. Then she slowly takes my hand and laughs. There’s something powerful about her smile.
“It will become hard for you. I mean it in a good way, though. I’ll let you know ahead of time so you don’t get spooked. Also, the tachibana tree is over there, Miss stray goddess.”
Then she points in a direction a little off from where I was going, says “thanks, bye,” smiles and goes away, leaving me without a full understanding of anything she said. I can tell that she must be a very strong youkai, but also strange. “Well, all youkai are strange,” I think to myself and I fly away again.
The dream goes on. I, being a big brown hornworm, was able to move quite well, crawling along the walls of the small room and looking out the window. It was a rainy land, or maybe it’s just that whenever I looked at it, the weather was unpleasant and the city was dreary. I look at the door. It looks peaceful today. A few times before, people would try to give me food and clean my room without my permission. Apparently there was more than one human, and they seemed to think I was part of their family. It’s strange that I’m a bug now, I think.
One day, the door was open, so I decided to go outside for a while. I was surprised to see a human there that I had never seen before, and he threw an apple at me. I tried to tell him to stop, but of course, I was an insect, so I couldn’t speak, and there was a limit to how fast I could move. Then the apple was stuck in my back, and the shocking pain blurred my vision, and in the next moment, the dream changed the scene. The dazzling sun was the exact opposite of what I had seen earlier. If I hadn’t been moved to the shade, I think I would have dried up. The humans took care of me and even gave me some top-tier food. According to the human who occasionally spoke to me, I was worshiped as a deity. They always seemed to be having a happy feast. But one day I became a chrysalis, as I had perceived before. As my body transformed, everyone’s smiles faded. Apparently it’s not good for a deity to become a chrysalis. It’s complicated and I don’t understand it well.
I wake up. Unlike the early days, now I’m not half as sluggish as I was after waking up. In my dreams, the wounds from that apple kept hurting, and since I became a chrysalis, of course, I can’t eat the food, and people didn’t take care of me anymore. I’m beginning to think that this was a bit of a problem, that I was tired of in my dreams and in reality. Come to think of it, I remember what the green-haired woman told me the other day.
“It will become hard for you.”
That’s right, it’s getting hard. She said she meant it in a good way, but what does that mean? I ponder whether I should see her again. Maybe she’ll give me some more advice. I get up and try to fly away, but I don’t have enough strength to do so, and I lie down on the spot. My vision darkens. Is there such a thing as death for fairies? I don’t know, because I never died.
It’s the usual dream. Somewhere along the way, I knew it would be the last. But this time the order of the scenes was reversed. In the East, I was left alone and there was no one to talk to anymore. I’m drying out without being moved into the shade that would block the sun’s rays, I look around and see that a number of chrysalises like me have been abandoned, and none of them seemed to have become adults. I’m no exception, apparently. I could feel the shell of the chrysalis cracking from my back, but I couldn’t move any further. If I became an adult, I would indeed have to eat food. I know I will die of starvation, unable to get out of the chrysalis. Oh well. So it was that kind of fate. I’ve been enshrined as a deity for quite some time now.
When I let out a breath, the scene changes. It’s the depressing room in the West. My wounds are festering, and those who seem to be my family stop feeding me and seem to be waiting for me to die. Yes, my family. I don’t understand why they treat me like this, even though they were my family, and I begin to feel sad for them. But at the same time, I understand their frustration in having to consider such an ugly, poisonous insect as family. Eventually, with dawn, death comes closer and closer, with the sound of footsteps. I didn’t hate the stagnant view from this window that much.
I was treated very differently in the two dreams. There was a difference between right and wrong, big and small, beautiful and ugly, noble and lowly. But guess what? In the end, I’m dead in both cases. I, in reality, am also dying.
I have warmth in my hands. Someone is holding my hand. I’ve felt it before.
“You were told that it would be hard. There’s no choice.”
The sound of that voice fills me with strength, almost as if it were a lie. Yielding to the impetus of that strength, I crack open the poisonous insect’s back and leave.
I look around and see that it is my room. The owner of the voice is nowhere to be found and there is no sign of her. Just a branch of leafy tachibana in my hand.
What was the dream I had been having? And where is the proof that this is not a dream? They are both the same. This world and the dream of the night are the same.
I get up. I have more than enough energy to fill my body. I give thanks to the person of that warmth, whoever they were, and I run out into the open sky where the bright sun is waiting for me. I think I could easily become a deity now.