When children had fevers, parents let them rage. When the fevers reached their peaks, fever dreams visited.
My first fever dream visited me during an extremely intense flu bout when I was eight years old. Decades later, I can still hold the scene clearly in my head as my temperature peaked. I lay on the bottom level of my bunk bed in the darkness, and the kitchen's light poured in from down the hallway. My mother fussed about with dinner for the rest of the family, and I could hear them talking. I stared at my black-and-white photo of Lieutenant Uhura, communications officer of the Starship Enterprise and my idol, taped to my wall. Her gaze seemed particularly kind that night, and I knew that if she were there, she would speak soothing words to me in Swahili and run her soft palm over my burning brow. She would take me to sickbay where Dr. McCoy and Nurse Christine Chapel would give me the shot-without-a-needle, and I would fall into a deep, restful sleep under a thin, silvery blanket. The crew would take care of me. My eyes closed.
I then remember being chased by a towering figure. I ran as fast as I could but made no ground. My skin felt prickly and heavy as some invisible goo enveloped me. I felt my eyes closing again as I ran, my lungs burning. I saw large round lights ahead of me, which looked comforting until they began to dissolve before my eyes, sending out a noxious vapor of luminous bubbles from all sides. I felt the bubbles rush past me. I froze and turned around to face my hunter: Marie Antoinette.
My neck craned to its breaking point as I peered up at the huge figure's unforgiving eyes. Judging from her punishing gaze, I had done something wrong. She grew larger and larger, her ivory face, tight coal-colored ringlets, and lace collar moving dangerously close to my face. Her scowl remained fixed, meting out her final verdict. She said nothing. I feared her collar, replete with sharp points which stuck out like infinite sun rays, would pierce me with their poison, and I would die.
I woke up. The transistor radio beside my bed again played "Just the way you are" by Billy Joel. This popular new song played once an hour, dominating all radio station's heavy rotation.
When I heard him croon, "I just want someone/That I can talk to..." for the umpteenth time, I looked at Uhura again and yelled, "Mom!"
Dreaming still, I got no response. I fell back into my delirious state, again running without moving, watching bubbles dissolve around me, pricking my skin, helpless to move. I slept because my taxed body gave me no choice.
The next morning felt considerably cooler. The heat casting its stifling cover over the previous sick day had disappeared and left nothing behind. The sun shone clearly and brightly. Uhura smiled at me. I picked up my diary, undid its combination lock, and recorded my dream journey from the previous day.
Even years after, when I had high fevers, that same nightmare visited me. After years of practice, I learned to stare Marie Antoinette down, though she never did leave.
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