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The Fear Dreams
About the Author: Delee Fromm is the author of two nonfiction books, Advance Your Legal Career and Understanding Gender at Work, and co-author of A Workbook for Understanding Gender at Work with Rocca Morra Hodge, a director at Rotman. In the realm of fiction, she has two published short stories: “The Neighborhood Watch” in A Grave Diagnosis by Carrick Publishing (2020) and “Not in Canada” in the Crime Writers of Canada 40th Anniversary Anthology.

A man wearing a black balaclava towers over me. A deep dread fills my body. A dread that pierces my core. His black marble eyes pin me to the bed and I feel helpless. He wants to harm me. Oh, God, I know him.

The woman relaying this frightening dream is my client. Her name is Caroline, a tiny woman in her mid-seventies. Even to a person who is not a dream interpreter like me, this is clearly a fear dream.

Caroline has been coming to me for a full year but during the last three months her dreams have become darker and more frightening. That the figure is not a stranger is most disturbing. I rub the stubble on my chin and look at the ceiling, pondering the dream’s meaning. She watches me patiently and I’m careful to keep my expression neutral.

“Did you have a sense of what the figure wants from you?”

“I don’t know.” She sounds exasperated so I move the conversation to neutral ground.

“Tell me about the day of the dream. Did anything make you fearful? Anything stand out?”

“No. Nothing.”

“What did you do that day?”

“My daughter visited, I came here, then I did some yoga.” She looks over at me and smiles. “That’s all I can remember. Sorry.”

She is one of my sweetest clients and I return the smile. “Tell me about the visit with your daughter,” I ask so she’ll relax, not to get more information about her daughter. I already know enough about her only child: she suggested the dream therapy, lives four hours away, is a busy doctor of some sort, and rarely visits. A perfect child of a client—caring but not too involved. As planned, the question works to calm Caroline and she sinks back into the sofa.

“It was great to see her but she’s worried about me. We thought talking about my dreams would help my—well you know—jangled nerves. But it hasn’t.”

She looks away, afraid she’s hurt my feelings. She’s easy to read. Her emotions live on the surface—the opposite of me.

“My daughter believes dream interpretation is magic. What did she say?” She looks at her feet to concentrate, something she does often during our sessions. “Gathering gifts from the deeper world to help in this one. That’s it.” Her face lights up at being able to recite her daughter’s words.

“Could the dream relate to your daughter’s visit? Was her husband with her?”

“Oh, no. He never visits.” Her voice drips with disdain. “He started a business apparently. He hasn’t time for anything.  In tech I think.” Her gaze shifts to the right of me as she tries to remember what he does.

“So only your daughter visited?”

The question brings her back. “Yes. It’s better that way. More time to chat and discuss womanly things.” Her face turns red.

This fear dream has unsettled her. She is embarrassed for mentioning ‘womanly things’ to a middle-aged man. If only she knew the things discussed in this room; the dream images dissected and probed to discern hidden meanings. The deep secrets divulged. I smile at her primness. It’s a rare characteristic in today’s world where few things remain private, and everything is open to public discussion.

“Are you sure there wasn’t anyone else you saw that day?” Her memory is faulty, so it is important to probe.

Her face scrunches up trying to remember. “Let me see. Oh, silly me. Yes of course—the physiotherapist. He started that day. A very nice man. My daughter hired him. He comes to the house. He’s helping with my leg.”

“Tell me about this young man. The physiotherapist.”

“He’s so nice.”

I mentally cross my fingers. “Does he wear black?”


“And the masked man in your dream?”

It takes a second but then she looks at me as if I am a genius. “All black. Like my physiotherapist.” Her voice lowers. “Do you think he’s the one trying to hurt me?”

“I don’t know but you might want to mention it to your daughter. Often the unconscious puts things together we don’t want to face.”

This story appears in our JAN 2023 Issue
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