the hole in the cellar

There are places in the night while I dream that are real. I visit them intermittently but with enough regularity that I know them when I’m there.

There’s the place deep in the darkest, dankest corner of the cellar — a cellar that is rather sprawling with lots of rooms and a huge, professional, restaurant-style kitchen full of well-used stainless steel counters, ovens, blackened gas cook tops, and cooks. Yes, there are people down there cooking all the time. They know me because this is my cellar.

Past the kitchens, the linoleum on the floor becomes broken and crumbly, until it finally gives way to stained, pitted cement. The ceiling is lower here, so even I have to crouch a bit to make my way through. The walls close in to form a narrow, dark hallway which turns sharply to the right. At the end of the hallway — more of a tunnel really with walls and floor given over to tightly compacted, damp dirt — there is a crevice-like opening. It is easily missed as there’s no light hanging from the dirt ceiling here.

Shimmy sideways through this opening, you will enter into a small but complicated cavern with mud-made columns resembling termite towers beset with little depressions, shelves, niches, and secret hidy-holes. The cavern is lit, but it’s not clear where the light is coming from. The soft, creamy light sort of emanates from within the walls. From the dirt. In some spots it sparkles like mica.

There are three of these rooms, set back but without regard to regular rectangular room configurations. They just sort of veer off each other at odd angles, always going deeper into the earth. It’s easy to get lost here, but I know the way because I’ve lived here all my life.

This is where I keep the special and rare Christmas ornaments. The ones that are old — some older than Christmas — and full of magic.

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