Digging Up The Dead, or Play Shrink for a Day

Maybe it’s the season. Maybe it’s because I just lost my father. But I’ve been dreaming about digging up dead bodies. And these are not regular dreams. They’re the vivid kind. The kind that make you wake up and go whoa… The kind that color your day.

What do these dreams mean? I’ve thought about it, of course, and have my own ideas. But for fun, I’m asking you to read the following two dreams and hazard a guess as to what they’re trying to tell me. So put on your shrink hat and diagnose away. Funny or heartfelt, I want to hear it all.

Dream Number One

I am standing with my three siblings in a catacomb of sorts. Our sneakers are filthy from skidding down its dusty, sloping entrance into the cavernous warehouse of dead bodies. We have shovels. It is night. There are spiders. A shaft of waning light is all we’ve got to see by. My big brother, who in the dream is the big brother of my youth—a charismatic teenager, always curious, often in trouble—drives his shovel into a mound of dirt.

Behind me, my younger sister takes hold of my sweatshirt. Like me, she is uncertain about what it is we are doing here. My baby brother keeps making whimpering sounds. He is trying to be brave. It’s past his bedtime. He’s seven years old.

meta-zahren-349109Older brother unearths something that looks like a piece of driftwood. Smooth and long. Then another, only this one is somewhat smaller. I bend down for closer inspection. Reach into the dirt for what appears to a white orb of some sort. Once in my hand, I realize it’s a skull. His skull! My big brother’s! He’s digging up his own bones! Suddenly, I understand. This is why we have come. We are each of us going to dig up our bones.

Dream Number Two.

olenka-kotyk-75205I’m at a gathering at a park. Lots of pretty people in pretty clothes. There are hors d’oeuvres. Champagne. Someone I don’t know approaches me, tells me they’ve “buried the bodies.” No! I think. It’s too soon! I hand my glass of champagne to a waiter and charge off. The grass is soggy, the damp earth it springs from spongy and soft. It sucks at the soles of my leather shoes. But I know where I’m going. There is a garage about a quarter mile away.
At the bottom of a hill, I come to the garage. It is gaping open, as I knew it would be. Inside is a huge mound of dirt. I grab a shovel and, surprise-surprise, start to dig. I come across two bodies. Both of them are alive. One is thrilled to be set free, and immediately hobbles off on wobbly legs. But the other barely takes the time to throw a look of disgust over his shoulder before staggering back to the garage’s darkest corner and curling into the lightless shadows.

So, what do you think? Do I need professional help? I’m all ears. Give me what you’ve got.

Happy Halloween, ya’ll!

Photos by Mario Rodriguez, Meta Zahren, Olenka Kotyk, Janko Ferlic on Unsplash.

Clifford Mae Henderson is the author of four novels, and has a fifth coming out Spring 2018.

Book Cover by Duke Houston


  1. Wow. Just…wow, Clifford. I think the first dream — digging up bones — has to do with grief, and digging up things in the wake of your dad’s passing, and remembering things. You’re excavating parts of your spirit as you go through this, perhaps. The other…that’s a good starting point for your zombie apocalypse novel…?

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.