Dec 31

The PORTAL by Terry Dale

2984980734_044247eeb0Once again, the man felt himself falling through the cloud-wrinkled skies of a recurring nocturnal dream…

not plummeting with the heaviness of a dropped stone, but drifting and spinning on unseen currents like a sun-curled leaf. Far beneath him, like an ancient ark left behind by receding floodwaters, lay a massive, moss-covered guitar of weather-darkened wood. With its long neck propped across a low, forested ridge and its curved body resting in fields of grass and wildflowers, its smooth surface had been warped and pitted by the passage of time, and the strings stretched across its circular sound-hole were rusting and draped with vines. Floating down above the creaking structure, he heard the strings vibrate in the wind as he slipped between them; descending a short distance into the shadows, he landed on his feet with a gentle jolt. Sensing the familiar presence, he fumbled for his lighter and then there she was, standing before him in the golden radiance of its flame. “I’ve been waiting for you,” she whispered, stepping toward him. Plunging them both into darkness again as he dropped his lighter, he pulled her into his arms with a fierce sense of gratitude and relief, and buried his face in the warmth of her neck…

He stayed in these moments until he could no longer resist waking… and then revisited them behind closed eyes. A songwriter by trade, he had a natural affinity for the symbolic language of night visions. Just as cloud-cover concealed the jeweled lights of the earth, and oceanic depths obscured the unimaginably exotic terrain beneath them… so did the clamor of consciousness conspire to hide spiritual things. But he knew that the riddles arising from the drained silence of sleep often signified sacred messages, given to be pondered and unraveled.

Crawling out of bed, he threw the heavy quilt aside and pulled an old pair of jeans on over his long-johns; walking over to the frosted windows, he watched for a moment as the morning traffic moved sluggishly between the grayish banks of snow and ice that the snow-plows had created. He thought again about the iconic guitar that appeared in his dreams… and how sometimes, it rested beneath sun-blasted skies, wind-swept and half-submerged in shifting sands; and how at other times, it rocked on star-lit tides or lay in the evening shadows of a stone-walled canyon. He supposed that the kaleidoscopic shifting of sky-conditions represented a sequence of emotions… and the changing of dream-scapes, the changing of external circumstances. But whose emotions, and whose circumstances? His…? Or the woman who waited for him at the core of each vision?

2518856903_37b0688022_mHer features were strangely indistinct. Did this mean they’d never met before? Or did it mean that they’d encountered each other in the past, and he hadn’t really recognized her? All he knew for sure was how good it felt to stand inside the circle of her arms, and experience the grace of her mere existence. Her instinctive kindness and understanding were like cleansing fires, cauterizing the unhealed injuries within him even as they illuminated his faded nobility in sprays of benevolent sparks. And although he was uncertain of her name, he knew who she was… and for that reason, there was nothing he would hesitate to ask of her, or fear to confide; no struggle so grim that he wouldn’t engage in on her behalf… or take on, in order to be with her.

Still thinking of the woman, he turned away from the window and proceeded into the kitchen, where he took a mug down from one of the cabinets and plugged in the coffee-maker. Then he grabbed an acoustic guitar that was leaning against the wall and pulled a chair out from the kitchen table, where a notebook and a fountain-pen were laying in a shaft of late-December sunlight. Cradling the guitar in his lap as he tightened some loose strings, he remembered the blurred, discordant threads that had run through his own years in the past— all the times he’d spent walking along the crumbling twilight roads that led into the realms of drug and alcohol addiction. Eventually those roads had disintegrated completely, leaving him to wander through a trackless, devastated wasteland of his own creation… and he felt lucky to have made it out.

But now that he thought about it, it was when he’d begun to make wise and necessary changes in his life that the dreams had begun. He didn’t know where the woman was, or exactly what she’d been going through, but he realized they were being brought into alignment…


and like the strings of a musical instrument, when the elements of a shared destiny were in tune, beautiful things could happen. Strumming a few tentative chords, he picked up the fountain pen and pulled the notebook toward him; opening it to a fresh, blank page, he began to write a love song.


  1. drichof7

    One thing can be sure with your stories you describe in detail and you can feel the emotion, see what is being described. Interesting story, very well written.

  2. skywaywriter

    It’s always a pleasure to read anything written by Terry Dale. His prose is so poetic and intimate. His stories have a way of drawing me in.

  3. kimmy

    Very nice read…enjoyed

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