Dwayne died when I was ten.

I've always had difficulty determining when I'm awake and when I'm asleep. It's gotten worse as I get older, and at this point I just don't know anymore. My dreams are often linear and similar to my regular life, but I do of course have the odd “suddenly all of our heads got giant and we were all talking about water polo,”-type dreams.

My socks were the only things keeping me in touch with reality. Two pairs specifically, one has pictures of fish on them, one has pictures of strawberries. They never appeared in my dreams. Yes, I know that doesn't make much sense, but I do whatever works, I'm not really in a place to be picky.

The socks don't work anymore even though they had for many years. I'm very sure they aren't, anyway. Last week while I was wearing my fish socks, I ran into someone who I haven't seen, besides in my dreams, since I was ten; my big brother. Dwayne died when I was ten. He was in a very bad car wreck with several of his friends, they were known for drinking and generally acting stupid, so no one was surprised. Of course our family was torn up over it. Dwayne was sixteen.

I've met with Dwayne many times in my dreams, even when he was still alive, it's not unusual at all, but I was wearing my fish socks. That just doesn't happen. That disturbs me a lot on its own, the fact that I may have no way of knowing if I'm awake or not, but what makes me actually upset is what he said to me. I'm really not a superstitious person, but I'm sure you can understand why I might make to big a deal out of this.

I met him in the kitchen, I was happy to see him because even though it's been almost ten years, I still miss him, he was my big brother. So we talked a little, he asked how work was going, just shooting the breeze.

But then, we had moseyed on back to living room couch at this point, I happened to glance down at my feet when I reached for something on the floor and I saw my socks. I froze. I knew something was very wrong. I looked back at Dwayne and he had suddenly gotten very serious looking.

He said, “There wasn't a wreck. You remember that I stopped drinking and hanging out with Tyler and them six months before, don't you? I stopped doing all that stupid shit when dad found out you had tried one of my beers.”

I did remember. Dad had whooped his ass and told him very explicitly how stupid he was for it and what a bad brother he was for it.

I remembered that Dwayne had stopped because he wanted to be a better brother. Sometimes I have wondered why he would have been out with his old friends after that, and after six months never seeing them.

Well, I know I said I'm not usually superstitious, but I guess I am a little.

The summer after sixth grade, I believed I lived in a bungalow in Bora Bora. I walked along the beach everyday and collected sea shells. One day while I was out, I met a long-haired man wearing black. He was two feet in front of me, I stared up at him, every "don't talk to strangers" speech I had ever heard was playing in my head.

I was using my dress to carry all the shells I had collected, I remember it being very heavy. I was proud of my haul that day because in my collection I had found a small skull with some spine attached to it. I assumed I had found the remains of a dinosaur and would be the most bad-ass kid in school when summer was over and I went back home.

Anyway, the tall dark stranger leaned down to me grabbed and handful of shells out of my dress. He had the little skeleton. I said "Hey that's mine!"

He said, "No it isn't. I can tell just by looking at you, you still have all your bones." He started to walk away. I chased after him, I wanted that goddamn skull. "I found it first, you can't take it from me!"

He turned back and grinned and said, "I can't? Stop me."

He turned and faced me. I still stood with a pile of shells in my dress, but now I was wondering if I would have to have a show down with this guy.

He smiled and said, "At least you know when you're beat." And started walking away again.

I let go of my dress, ran straight up to him and slammed my bare foot into his back. He barely fell forward.

Now he turned back and slapped my forehead. "You have no business with me. You should go home, it's getting dark."

It was getting dark, the sky was turning dark green, nothing unusual to me. "I'm not gonna go until you give me the dinosaur back."

He looked at the skeleton in his hand, "A dinosaur?"

I told him, "yeah, I found him and he's mine."

He set the bones on the ground and took a step back. The air got heavier. Sand swirled around the remains, I watched organs and muscle and skin grow around the creature, it was some sort of little lizard.

The dark man scooped the lizard up, "See? he is a dinosaur though, you were right." He left.

I stood still and watched him walk away for a few minutes before I picked all of my shells back up and went home.

I tried keeping a dream journal for a while in high school, but everything is just so jumbled together I just wound up writing about my entire day.

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