I am standing on a playground that resembles my school’s yard – a flat asphalt square, wet, divided by the painted lines of play spaces. The blacktop sits adjacent to streets that pour downhill into alleys, apartments and a gathering mist.
I can’t see the bay, but I feel it out there, beyond the fog. I say to myself that I must be dreaming. I have never seen fog as thick as this.
I am supervising dozens of fifth graders. But in dream truth, I am not in charge. Instead, I watch as children dart from the midst of roiling clouds. Each child emerges, walks past me, and makes no comment. They appear to have somewhere to go.
Since children are walking past me, I turn to see where they might be heading. I discover that the yard upon which I stand is called the middle yard and the place to which children climb, the upper yard. Only then do I also notice moss covered steps that rise into the same tumbling mist that hangs above everything. I can’t see where the steps lead. Each child disappears and returns, a moment later.
“It won’t let us through.” A round-faced, gentle boy named Michael tells me. “It’s blocking the way.” Then a second child – a girl named Myra – returns with the same account. She stands before me with long black hair and black-rimmed glasses, large upon her small boned face. She shakes as she speaks: “I tried to go past, but a monster stopped me!”
I determine to climb the steps myself.
Into the clouds I go, finding myself stopped at the top of the stairs by a hairy beast so huge that I can see only its feet. I can smell its primordial must and can see that it stands so tall that it vanishes into the fog above me. I can’t move it. I can’t get past it, and I can’t even get its attention. Then, the being makes a rumbling sound that shakes my bones. I, like the children, return to the middle yard.
On my return, I see a second set of steps that rise up from a lower yard. Has this third yard been here all along? A boy and girl ascend from below – the same two who spoke to me moments before. Myra, however, now carries a glowing sword, and Michael walks close beside her. With set faces, they nod as they pass. I watch them climb again to the upper yard.
With confrontation imminent, I follow.
I reach the top in time to see Myra raising her sword. Then I witness something else: Two unlikely heroes engage a beast they can’t see, in a battle without slashing, blood letting, or rending of flesh. Nothing but a roar rises up, as if Myra has made some fatal cut. The beast then divides into shimmering atoms. Atoms dissipate. Two ten year-olds stand to behold the threshold of what I know to be the upper yard – a yard now liberated for exploration.
As the dream ends, the rest is mystery.
I stand watching boy and girl go forward and feel myself filling with an understanding: That courage is a potent weapon that can take down great beasts, and, that heroes are more powerful when they are less likely.