I had a friend named Tamzin in the summer of 1993. She was from South Africa and she was lovely.
When I was having bad dreams she found me the perfect, smooth, flat rock by the Sea of Galilee (the Kinerret) that fit exactly in the palm of my hand.
I have never been able to hold on to anything the whole night through, but this rock was an exception. Every night that summer I wrapped my fingers around its smooth surface, releasing it in the morning. I endowedthe dream rock with the qualities of a talisman, capable of warding off dark dream demons. It worked. I still have it. The rock, not the dreams.
She remains the best storyteller I have ever met. We would be working together in the banana groves, and I wouldn't even notice all the crickets and spiders that were bouncing off my legs. Her stories carried us through the long mornings of manual labour.
She had gone crazy a couple of times in her life--times when she blacked out and woke up in hospital having cut herself all over and swallowed every pill in the house. She did not know what had lead up to those two meltdowns. But she was put in institutions both times and given heavy medication that caused nightmares. Which is why she understood the bad dreams so well.
One evening, we were lying in the grass. She took out her pocket knife and opened it. Very carefully, she traced my lips with the side of the blade. And I was not afraid.