I recall a bit of a dream I had last night (as I write this), and it was odd enough to share…
I was asleep on a stretch of concrete, with sheets and a comforter covering me. It was a bright and sunny day–the concrete sun-warmed under me. For some reason, I was right outside a bank drive-through, the cars going by in front of me–the concrete was angled, my head higher than my feet, and my head was pointed directly at the very busy drive-through.
Somehow I slept through all of this.
Eventually I woke up, wrapped my blankets around myself like a cloak, and started walking to a big building–apartments, or maybe a hotel–fishing in my pocket for a single key (which opened a door on the third floor). I went up the stairs, holding my blanket-cape close, walking by all the other people.
I woke up before I found out where I was going. But it left me wondering why I was sleeping outside…
* * * *
“You’ll get skin cancer,” a female voice said.
I shaded my eyes with my hand and looked up. I was stretched out on the grass, wearing shorts, my shirt and shoes in a pile by my shoulder.
“Nah, I have tough skin,” I said, looking up at the woman outlined by the sun. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she was wearing athletic clothes–probably jogging.
“Even African-American skin burns. It’s just harder to see,” the woman said. She should know about burning, with her pale skin and blonde hair.
“I’m not black,” I said, sitting up and turning. I dropped my hand, so she could see my eyes. They’re green, from corner to corner, like a cat’s eyes.
Her jaw dropped a little as she saw my eyes–dryad eyes. I was a quarter dryad, which was mostly human. But enough dryad that sometimes I need to photosynthesize.
I pushed myself up, taking a step back so I wasn’t looming over her. My eyes freaked people out. At least my grandmother hadn’t been a silver-white skinned aspen dryad.
Full dryads looked a little less human, and had a tree that anchored them and made them immortal. They planted seeds at the edges of their range, nurtured them to saplings, and spread out in stages. My grandmother had met my grandfather when her range ended up near his house. Dryads could transfer from their original tree to a seedling tree in an emergency, but then they had to start over.
And a disaster like a forest fire or clear-cutting could kill a dryad.
The lady still stood there staring at me while I was thinking. She hadn’t moved, but she hadn’t said anything either.
I pulled my shirt on, and stuffed my feet in my shoes. “It was nice chatting with you,” I said insincerely.
“I should get going,” I gave her a smile and a half wave, and walked away.
Three steps later, she called out, “Wait!”
I turned back, took two steps back, and waited.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you away,” she said.
“It’s okay,” I replied, almost meaning it.
“Have a good day,” she raced back to a group of people waiting for her. I saw them looking at me, and I headed off before someone came over to see if I was really part-dryad.