My dreams vanish before they become memories.

I awake knowing that I have dreamt. A hazy image in the recesses of my mind persists, taunting my inability to recall. The darkness around me offers no clue. Where was I? What was I doing? Who was I with? There are no answers in the night, only the certainty that something was but is no more. My dream is over and the questions begin.

Yet sometimes the images are clearer, sharper.

I awake with a start, breathing heavily. And I recall.

The past few weeks have been stressful. My father’s death has evoked wistful memories and the realization that he is no longer there. We were very close. I feel his absence.

Work has offered no reprieve. I have spent several days in contentious negotiations with a woman I have never met. I am pressed by my client to resolve the issue. Yet she remains unyielding, steadfast. We engage in circular daily conversations. There is no end to our discussions.

In my dream we meet for the first time. Her lower face is indistinct, but her eyes are dark, sharp, aggressive. We are sitting in a conference room atop a tall office building. I glance around and recognize it as a downtown Miami skyscraper where I spent more than ten years of my professional life. Through the floor-to-ceiling glass window I see Biscayne Bay, the Port of Miami, several cruise ships making their way to open sea.

I am accompanied by a Jamaican man I do not recognize. He sits by my side as I engage in heated discussion with my opponent. I can tell he is Jamaican by the flow of his voice on the rare occasions when he speaks.

The negotiations end when my opponent insists on terms to which I cannot agree.

The dream ends when the Jamaican man falls through the window and plunges to his death.

I recall vividly the flailing of his arms as he stumbles backwards into the abyss, the shock of realization on his face as he falls away from life.

There will no more sleep this night. I stare at the wall and think.

I remind myself that stress is what is causing my disturbing visions. I need to gain control of my emotions.

Time will assuredly make things better, but patience has never been my strength.

Eventually the pain of my father’s loss will recede, my stress level will drop to nearly-acceptable levels.

Perhaps then my dreams will once again vanish into my subconscious, forever hiding visions seen only with closed eyes, and sparing the lives of unknown beings whose imaginary deaths haunt my nocturnal unrest.