I’ve had the same dream every night for the last month. At first, I only saw the snake slithering towards me through the tall grass. I always woke with a start when its vibrant green body rose out of the grass to look me in the eye. In later dreams, she was there, standing in the distance, dressed in a green strapless dress. I knew her, though I could not recall her name or how we met. Her presence made me uncomfortable. I found myself keeping a more careful eye on her than the snake. She had tribal tattoos on her shoulders, her auburn hair was shaved on the sides and french braided into a mohawk. Her skin was deep brown, and her hazel eyes were intense. She didn’t speak, she just watched as the snake slithered from her side, toward me. I still woke up, heart racing and drenched in sweat, every time the snake rose in front of me.
The lack of sleep was beginning to take it’s toll. Coffee became a must in order for me to make it through a work day. My co-workers often had to repeat themselves because I would zone out during meetings. My boss pulled me aside to find out what was going on with me. I was doing everything possible to pull myself together, but I could not shake the images or emotions the dream left behind. So, when I saw her as I approached my job, I though I was hallucinating. She stood, leaning against the lamppost in front of my office building, wearing the same green dress she wore in my dream. As I drew closer, I could not help but notice the slit that ran up one side of her dress exposing the snake tattoo that started at her ankle and traveled up her leg to an area beyond the start of the slit. The fabric where the slit began barely covered her hip. The other men approaching and leaving the building noticed her also. She paid them no mind. Her gaze was intense and firmly planted on me. I tried to play it cool and nodded in her direction I entered the building, hoping she would say “good morning” or smile. She didn’t react or respond, her eyes just followed me as I walked through the lobby doors.
The mail-room clerk, Walter, fell in step beside me as I made my way to the elevators. He was a kid, about 19 or 20 years old.
“Hey man, is that you,” he asked tilting his head toward the lobby doors, indicating the mystery woman from my dreams.
“No, man. That ain’t me.”
“Duuuuuuude, you need to get with that! She’s looking at you like a you’s a three course meal or somethin’.”
“Why don’t you ask her out, man. She looks to be about your age. I’d feel like some kind of cradle robber if I approached her.”
“You scared, huh?
“Man, I ain’t never scared,” I said as I stepped onto the elevator and allowed the closing doors to end our conversation. But, something about her gave me chills.
It was a hectic day of back to back meetings, and other typical workday emergencies. I was glad to see five o’clock. I was looking forward to taking a much-needed nap before heading out to dinner. I didn’t remember the woman from my dream until I stepped off the elevator and into the lobby. She was standing in the same spot, just outside the entrance to the building. Her eyes were once again, fixed on me. I stopped by the security desk and asked the guard if she had been standing there all day.
“Yeah, she’s hasn’t moved from that spot. Several brothers tried to step to her, but she gave them a look that sent them packing. I didn’t dare go out there to tell her to move. She looks like she works out.”
“You need to be fired, letting that little woman scare you off like that! And you call yourself a security guard. I should snatch that label off your jacket, right now! What did she do when she wasn’t striking fear into the hearts of men?”
“You got jokes, James. She has a tablet with her. I’m guessing she read a book.”
I can’t lie. I was afraid to pass her, again. There was something intense and powerful about her. She looked at me as though she could read my every thought. I exited the building, ready to walk past her as though I didn’t see her standing there. She watched me like she was the hungry lion and I was the gazelle.
“James,” she called as I walked past her. I stopped in my tracks. She knew my name. My blood ran cold, and I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. She moved to stand in front of me. “You need to come with me.”
“Do I know you,” I managed to ask.
“My name is Imani. Things in your life are about to change, drastically. You’re going to need me on the course you are about to take. Come with me, I’ll explain on the way.”
Something in her tone told me it would be in my best interest to do as she said.