I couldn't have been much more than three, maybe four. It was a hot summer's afternoon, sticky as only a toddler can become when wrapped up in his pillow in the mid-afternoon Pennsylvania heat and humidity. I was coming awake, terrified from the dream I had had.
I'd stumbled onto a man sleeping in the woods in a clearing, a man with long hair and a beard, sleeping the sleep of the dead as only old men can when life has outpaced them. I had shyly approached this sleeping giant and tugged on his winding cloth or sheet – it wasn't clear which it was. A faun came up behind me and told me to desist.
“If you wake him up, all of this will cease to exist.”
Brat that I was, I proceeded to persist. The old man stirred, rolling on to his back. The winding cloth fell from his loins. His manhood was exposed to the air, semi-erect. The sleeper stirred further. Another roll now, he was onto his side. One great eye opened under the ponderous eyebrow.
“You! What do you think you're doing, you little monkey?”
Terrified, I ran. Ran as hard as I could, whipping branches of trees slapping me in the face, roots tripping my running feet until I burst into another clearing. There before me, as the breath screamed into my heaving lungs, lay a man on a slab, his back to me. A sheet was wrapped about his legs like a shroud. He appeared asleep, although how that could be with my lungs screaming for air, my muscles burning in pain, my breathes ragged as I gulped fresh air while exhaling.
His hair was long and his beard was longer. Save for the breeze rattling the leaves, it was deathly still. Nothing moved down at ground level. A chipmunk was frozen on another stump. Even the ants seemed to be locked in the piney amber as the old giant slept on.
Crow spoke to me through the breeze overhead.
“Do not wake him, little one. For to wake him is the end of all that we know.”
Brat that I am, I approached, reached up and tugged at the sheet covering his backside.
The edges began to melt. Like so much celluloid burning up from a torn film in a projector, the very edges of existence were immolating, dripping and bubbling away, with naught but a white background behind.
Terrified, I ran. Screaming, I woke, hair matted, face red from silent tears shed as I sobbed the end of all we knew.
I've been running ever since.
The moral? Oh the moral, little one, is to always let sleeping grampas lie...