I had a dream last night.
Which is somewhat unusual- I very rarely remember my dreams. I'm sure I have them like most other living things do when they sleep, but memory of it hardly ever reaches me when I wake up.
This was different, though.
I had a dream that I had a friend (so you already know that it's completely insane and fanciful) who was a painter. And they invited me (out of my home) to their art gallery. And so I went.
I have no recollection of the space that the gallery was located in, or even the friend themselves- just that I had a friend, and that I was there looking at their things. And the gallery was peculiar. It was strangely appropriate for me, starting with the fact that everything was more-or-less goblin-sized, and the paintings were hung almost down by the floor for my convenience.
I can't remember much about most of them, but as I was traveling along the right-hand wall, I stopped in my tracks in front of one enormous landscape piece.
It called to me, I suppose?
And what it was, was this alien place. This world that was obviously meant to be something out of science fantasy, but very relatable on some level.
It was some sort of desert. There were satellites--natural satellites, that is--visible in the sky which was tinged a sort of purple color. There may have been some planet with rings around it far in the distance, I'm not sure. The sand and the rocks on the ground were kind of a bluish-grey color with yellowish streaks and highlights across them from the setting sun- one of the setting suns, at least. I remember the rocks had a metallic, almost greasy sheen to them like graphite.
There was a procession of beings walking through the desert. I got the impression that they were very tall, even though there was nothing to compare their scale to. Not outlandishly tall, but relative to humans--and certainly relative to me--they were pretty tall. They were fairly thin, too. They were humanoid, and sort of blue-skinned, I think. But not the same kind of blue as the land around them. They popped out from their surroundings quite visibly, somehow. They didn't have anything resembling hair, or horns, or any other sort of head protrusions. There was actually very little in the way of distinguishing characteristics between them. If they had anything like gender, I wasn't able to differentiate them.
But they all seemed to be walking in groups of three- two of approximately the same height, and one much shorter than the other two. Eventually I realized that they seemed to be family units. Parents and children. And there were dozens--hundreds?--of these units stretching all the way back into the sunset horizon. They were moving toward the foreground, until eventually the line twisted to the side where they entered some sort of large stone building which conveniently had the front of it cut off for the sake of my perspective.
I was able to look inside, where there was a sort of waiting room, and a much smaller chamber next to it. There was a much tighter congregation of people in the second room. There were several tall beings here who didn't appear to be parents, or at least they didn't have their own children with them. But they did have a group of other children with them.
It was at this point that I realized that another defining characteristic of these people was that each of them had a little socket in their forehead. The tall ones only had an empty space that was rectangular or diamond-shaped, with raised edges of thick and scarified flesh around them. Meanwhile the young ones had what looked like jewels- Brilliant little multicolored, multifaceted things poking ever so slightly out of their foreheads.
But when they reached this back room, they took out what I can only describe as a pair of pliers, and held the children down, and... removed them.
And it was obviously not a pleasant or willing procedure- the children had to be held down after all.
There was kicking, and screaming, and bleeding of a very dark, ichorous purple.
And when it was done, the children were bandaged up and moved over to the other side of the chamber, where there was a door leading out of the back of the building. At this point the parents, who had witnessed the removal and were looking far more exhausted than when they had come in, carried their children out. Or at the very least they shouldered their weight as they staggered on limply.
All of them had this expression of regret and sadness, tempered with this feeling of inevitability.
Like they dearly did not want to do this to their own children--to any children--but it was... required?
I don't know how I was able to perceive all of this in a single painting. Either I imagined much of it, or my subconscious is was very, very good at ekphrasis.
(Is that how you say that word? I realize I never vocalized it when I learned about the concept in my class on Greek and Roman mythology.)
In any event, I believe I glanced down at the name of the painting before I left or moved on or the dream ended.
And it was titled "Normalized Trauma".
I just wish I hadn't seen the mound of discarded jewels leaned up against the side of the building. I can't get it out of my head. Some of the jewels were very new and lustrous-looking, save for the encrusted blood. Others were old and faded. The pile was almost as tall as one of the adults.
It was also at the edge of the field. The field was filled with hundreds of mounds just like it.