An excerpt from “Shaken and Stirred in Siena”

…a work in progress:

My sleep is solid and heavy, like the stones that hold up the building. Some time later my peace is interrupted when I sense, deep within my sleep, that someone is gently shaking me, trying to rouse me. It continues, this gentle shaking, and I start to wake up. I’m in that weird zone where I don’t know if I’m asleep or awake, yet I’m lucid enough to know I’m in that zone. Here, there is no differentiation between what lies in the deepest recesses of my imagination and the rationality of my waking life.

Right now I’ll believe anything, just as I did as a child, and still do in my dreams. The bed is gently rocking and I feel a small sense of urgency but I can’t force myself into further awakenness. Why would someone be rousing me? It doesn’t make any sense. Is it a burglar? Both the door and the window are locked, and besides, why would a burglar wake me? The rocking continues. I hear a tapping sound, a gentle, hollow, repetitive, knock.

I’m slightly more awake now. Awake enough to have rational confidence in my belief that someone is, indeed, rocking the bed, but I still can’t bring myself into full consciousness. If there is some emergency, surely the rocking would be more urgent and I would be roused. It’s as if I’ve been drugged or am on death’s door with a paramedic trying to coax me back to life with injections of adrenaline. It’s not natural I decide, it’s some kind of ghost or other spiritual apparition. This scares me but not enough to awaken me. If anything this makes me want to retreat back into sleep so I won’t have to confront it.