Annie didn’t touch me, speak, or even move. She just disturbed me. It was disquieting to be in her presence. But these were all the reasons why I preferred being haunted by her to my recurring nightmare, a dream which I’ve had my entire life, which I began having at the same time Annie began appearing. This is my nightmare.
I’m too young to be alone in the house, but I am alone in the house. Scared, I go room to room, seeking my parents. This brings me into the basement. It’s cold down there, but it’s where I find my dream dad. He has a secret: He’s been hiding Mister Ed, the talking horse, and no one in the neighborhood can know about it. My father says very seriously to stay put. “Don’t leave Mister Ed,” he orders me, and then he leaves, always for some vague but vital mission, “And whatever you do,” he says just before he goes, “Don’t let anyone know he’s down here.”
As soon as my dad is gone, a low evil chuckle echoes off the basement walls. It comes from the heavy double doors that lead outside, and without seeing anything, I know that it’s Beetlejuice. He appears unsummoned and scares me, over and over, until my wits scatter and he’s stolen the horse. His self-indulgent chortle sounds long after he’s left, and it’s louder than my father yelling when he comes home. I’ve lost the horse, dream dad’s lost much more, and the rest of the dream is me stuck in that disappointment.
“Dreams come in episodes, not flashes; they have a continuity, a coherence, a narrative, a theme. One is a participant or a participant-observer in one’s dreams, whereas with [hallucinations], one is merely a spectator. Dreams call on one’s wishes and fears, and they often replay experiences from the previous day or two, assisting in the consolidation of memory.”
(excerpt from Oliver Sacks’ Hallucinations)