“So this time try doing Tree,” the narrator said, Robert having rejoined him the next evening in reality in his attic. “Start in Mountain pose, then bend your right knee, bringing your foot to your inner thigh.”
“What does this pose do?”
“It improves concentration and balance. Now let’s wrap up with Corpse pose.”
“It is a state of ultimate relaxation. You lie on your back, arms 45 degrees from the sides of your body, palms facing up. Scan your body from head to toe, releasing all tension. Completely relax, your whole body rising and falling with your breath.”
“This is relaxing, but what does it accomplish?”
“Here in reality, relaxation is an end in itself, we are so burdened by our stressors that come up in life that sometimes we just need some peacefulness to regroup and recuperate our energy.”
“I can see how reality can be stressful.”
“Yes, but not only that, I wanted you to do Corpse pose because I want to prepare you to spend the night.”
“Spend the night? Really? Here, in reality?”
“Yes, I have a guest room with a bed where you could sleep.”
“You think I could, that I could, survive, here over night? How do I know I won’t die in my sleep? And then I’ll be away from my fictional world, stranded here in your reality.”
“I think you’ll be fine. You’ve been advancing well through our yoga poses, you’re developing real balance and stability. I think it would be no problem for you find out how you feel sleeping here in reality, it would be another good step towards living in this world.”
“Okay, I’ll give it a try. But leave your computer on, just in case I need to get back quick.”
“I can do that,” the narrator said laughing.
The narrator led Robert downstairs to the guest room on the first floor. He laid out a pair of pajamas and bid Robert goodnight. Robert laid down, uncomfortable by himself in the real world. He looked around the room, saw the blue and white wallpapered walls, the fake plant in a pot across the room, the nightstand with its little tan lamp. It all looked familiar, yet totally new too. He felt a sense of suspense from not quite knowing what to expect from this room. But nothing bad happened, and after not too long he drifted off to sleep.
However, sleeping too was a new experience for him, and when he began dreaming in a couple hours he became scared. He jumped up and ran out of the room, calling for the narrator. The narrator asked, “What, what’s startled you?”
“Amy,” Robert said, “She was there, there in front of me, beckoning to me…I tried to talk to her and tell her I loved her, but then she just slit her own throat with a knife. She killed herself, oh God, she killed herself. Where is she? Is she really dead?”
“Robert, I’m afraid you’ve had your first dream.”
“Dream? I was dreaming? Like Martin Luther King?”
“Yes, except it’s not just figurative like Dr. King, in reality we have stories in our heads when we sleep—like movies that we make up for ourselves. It is thought that this rejuvenates our mind, providing release to our unresolved thoughts and fantasies. Amy was not really there, she was just a figment of your imagination, part of your dream world.”
“Wow, that is really amazing. She looked so real.”
“Ah yes, but so does your fictional world. That’s just what a dream is: more fiction. It’s just not written on paper or a computer screen—it’s written in your mind itself.”
“So go back to bed, you’ll be all right. Just try to get eight hours of sleep.”
“Yes, that’s pretty much the standard nightly number of hours needed for good mental and physical health.”
“What if I start dreaming again?”
“Just stay calm, and you’ll wake refreshed in the morning.”
Robert did so and slept without further incident until the alarm went off at 6:00 a.m.
“Sleep well?” the narrator asked when he met him in the kitchen.
“I think so,” Robert said. “I didn’t have any more dreams after I talked to you, so that was good.”
“Fine, so try having this fried egg and sausage, it will give you energy for the day.”
“It looks good,” Robert said, biting into the egg, “and it has so much flavor, just like the lentils, but even more pungent.”
“I thought you would like it.”
Robert finished his breakfast and the narrator told him, “You have done well. Yoga, a good night’s sleep, and a good breakfast—now you’re ready to go back to fiction and get those presents delivered.”
“Right, I’d almost forgotten. Thanks so much, for everything.”
“It’s my pleasure, you’re doing very well. Next time, I hope to have you doing even more, staying even longer. We’ll get you set up for a real life here.”
One of the narrator’s fictional characters, Detective Gladstone, has gained consciousness and stepped out of a novel into reality. He gradually adjusts to the real world with the narrator’s help, picking up insights along the way about what it means to be human. But an anti-illegal immigrant group does not want him in reality, and he must face down its leader to self-actualize as a real person.