The familiar piercing scream jars me awake from my dream. The joyful vision shatters. I try to coax it back, hold it longer, caress it, unwilling to let go. I long for a few moments more with it before it fades and dissipates into nothingness. Before it floats away, fragments of my happiness transported in the wind like dandelion seeds aloft in a warm spring breeze.
Today, like every other day, I fail. It’s gone.
That dream-shattering sound won’t stop as I try unsuccessfully to push the infinitely small button of the alarm clock with my hand. I can’t reach. My arms too small, my fingers useless. Of course they are. I’m a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The famous Barney.
A big, purple, million years old dinosaur. Groundhog day all over again. Every time, every morning. The same thing. You’d think I’d have changed things. Figured it out. But I’m the same as you – stuck in old habits, old patterns. Doing the same thing over and over again. It’s a very human trait, I’ve been told.
Pulling myself up to a standing position from the cold floor where I sleep, I do the only thing I can to put an end to the wailing that pilfered my dream. I do the same thing I do every morning – I stomp on the stupid machine. Feeling the bits of plastic and wire succumb to my massive purple foot sends a pleasant tingle up my spine. Suddenly, I feel better.
As I make my way to the bathroom, I kick the mangled remains to the corner and watch as they skitter across the polished stone floor of my luxury cave. With a satisfying clang, the twisted mess comes to rest against the carcasses of its brethren who faced the same fate earlier this week. It’s not Friday yet so the fallen will remain there until my cleaner comes in and removes them. It’s an expensive habit, but a small price to pay.
Sunlight filters in through my floor to ceiling windows, which have been outfitted with a shade system that automatically adjusts to allow the perfect amount of sunshine in. A few rays catch my collection of fourteen, crystalline Daytime Emmy Nomination plaques which are housed on the display shelf that adorns the far wall. The light dances joyously around until it’s split into tiny little rainbows that splash on the walls of my bedroom.
I stop in front of the rows of accolades and stare at the physical proof of my failures.
The earlier joy of sending the alarm clock to its maker, vanishes.
I can feel the tears bunching up in the corners of my eyes, threatening to spill down my elongated purple snout. Fourteen times I was robbed. I feel as though a heavy blanket is about to smother me. That I’m being buried alive by molten lava and fiery soot like all my relatives were, in the before times, some of their bodies only now being unearthed.
I take a deep breath and force the tears back down into the depths of that meteor crater whence they came. My agent keeps reminding me that I won back in 2001 for sound mixing. Sure, I won, but I had to share it with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and that pompous Regis. That’s my legacy. No one remembers 2001.
It’s always at that point that I end up in front of my incredible dance studio mirror. Every single day I stop here, at this exact same place, and I look up at my reflection. My eyes have lost their lustre. My once luminous purple scales, dulled. My teeth, yellowed and aged, like stale chiclets left out too long in the sun. My dopey grin, once globally recognized, vanished.
Instead of joy, I now only see sadness.
I should have gotten rid of that mirror years ago, but I can’t. It holds too many memories. Too many times when I used to walk by and be proud of the reflection shining back to me. The world’s most famous purple dinosaur. It evoked memories of when Baby Bop, B.J., and Riff would come over and we would jam until the wee hours of the night. We would nail our moves, our bodies whirling and twirling, synchronized. Perfect harmonies intermingling as if blessed by Simon and Garfunkel themselves. We were stars.
The children loved us. We loved them. I loved them.
We were a happy family.
But it’s been 10 years since they forced me off the air. Since they stole my purpose.
They said I was irrelevant. That my audience had grown up and that the new generation didn’t ‘get me’. They even had the audacity to tell me that the new kids found me creepy. Me? Creepy? Have you seen those fucking Wiggles?!?
The good times. All of them gone. Dissolved like my dreams dissolve every morning. Exit stage left. The curtain falls.
I break my gaze from the mirror, the burden of those memories weighing heavy on my shoulders, and trundle, head hanging low, into my walk-in shower. Using the heavy foot pedal, I turn on the stream of steaming hot water and step in.
The tsunami hits me. Everything is spinning. I lose my feet from under me. I’m trapped in a vortex. Everything is swirling in a rush. I can’t stand, I can’t breathe. Gasping, the weight of my being is crushing me. I drop to the shower floor sobbing.
Sitting down against the cold Italian tile, I gasp for breath. The droplets rain down upon me from above, cascading down my snout in tiny rivulets. I know it’s not only water but also my sadness diluted and spinning down that drain opening. I try to wrap my little arms around myself. I can’t. Of course I can’t.
I’m Barney the Purple Dinosaur, a millions of years old Tyrannosaurus Rex and I’ve been taken off the air.
I close my eyes, a curled purple ball and everything fades to black.