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The dogs in my nightmares never bark. I can tell them by their speed and the noise of their paws. The sounds I most associate with fear are the muffled footfalls of dream dogs scrambling into my attention to rip the sinews from that girl at work or my father or Lauryn Hill and leave me alive to wonder what I'll do now, now in the dream. And when the characters are revived and get back up, now with pointed ears and long snouts, they walk on two feet, in the shoes I've dreamed for them, but they make the clatter of four scrambling paws.

Sometimes when I'm awake I overhear similar sounds, and the struggling actor/dog-walker responsible for them might look over to me and wonder why I'm exhaling and closing my eyes and stiffening up. The reaction is immediate, like when I recognize the sound of my alarm clock in everyday noise and feel compelled to turn it off, even though I can't hate it because more than once it's saved me from the dogs.

Other times I have dreams of repetition. I hear overlapping versions of songs that have gotten stuck in my head throughout the day, or I face unsolvable versions of simpler problems or puzzles I've already solved. I'm often aware that I'm dreaming, and I'm driven to keep working on the puzzle until I wake up, knowing that the dogs await my failure.

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