When I turned 5, my mother finally allowed me to watch the work of The Women. She would wake me long before the sun rose. I would crawl out of bed, sleep still clinging to my eyes. We would travel deep into the forests on our lands. The trees were thick and no moonlight could penetrate through them. But mother had traveled this path since she, herself, was 5. Grasping my tiny hand in her warm one, she’d guide me over rocks and roots and around tree trunks, thick with age, never allowing me to lose my footing. Until eventually, we would break through the trees upon a wide clearing, filled with the women of our tribe. Each holding up an intricate circle, filled with a spider web design, laden with feathers and beads.
The Dream Catchers.
I had always assumed that what we did was make believe, false hope for those who dream. The first time I saw it, I thought I must be dreaming myself.
As the sun began to warm the sky, I watched the women, each one holding up a Dream Catcher, their long fingers dancing in front of each, drawing out invisible strands from their centers. I could almost see the ghostly threads drifting in the air, off each finger, like spider silk. And as the sky grew brighter, I stared harder, the threads becoming more visible, twinkling in the growing light. And suddenly there, on the end of each strand is something. Like some dark and leggy bug, clinging to the Dream Catchers, pulled away by the threads, by The Women.
There are hundreds of them. Nightmare creatures.
I watched my mother as she worked, drawing the small bugs closer to her face, staring intently at each as though she would devour them. And then as the sun came to crest the horizon and cast deeply into my eyes, I was blinded for a moment.
I wiped the tears from my eyes, trying to refocus. But The Women were done. Each leggy bug vanquished in a beam of sunlight. The silky strands were gone. Only the feathers dangling in the gentle breeze of morning..