Réalité, fraternité, égalité

You woke me up in the middle of a dream and showed me a newspaper article. You couldn’t get your apartment rooms sold (the newspaper made a mistake, they meant rented) for over $1231 a month, though the rooms were worth $1671 each. But the economy is bad and you had to take that into account.

Naivo, the Malagasy writer, didn’t show up to the birthday party held for children at my grandmother’s old house that my brother and I’d sold a thousand years ago, so there was hell to pay and the children roamed the old neighborhood. That wasn’t our responsibility. A little girl had a crush on you though and when you turned to talk to her, smiling, I suddenly saw your hair, longer than it had ever been before, even though I had just seen it short in your profile pictures. Years must have passed without my knowing it. Your hair was always black in that almost blue way but with dignified grey hairs cropping up when you were twenty. Now, with this mass that reached all the way down your back, those were invisible. You let your hair loose when I asked you to, and I marveled at it, told you it was beautiful.

At your parents’ house, I said hello to them, and your father was in a wheelchair, sitting next to your mother, as they both worked intently together on a single computer, discussing how to write an article and what pictures to include. We sat down in your living room and you told me that your father injured a disc, or something like that, which was why he was in a wheelchair. You didn’t sound worried, so I didn’t worry either.

We talked. Your hair was down again, but now it was braided everywhere, easier to manage and less tangleable. You leaned in. I didn’t move. I let your lip brush mine. But I didn’t move. It was your move. Your turn. Your decision. I was open to it, but my eyes were wide open and I watched and felt you hesitate, pull away, lean forward again and kiss me.

It was nothing like I remembered it. You poked into my mouth though your lips were as soft as they’d ever been. More vivid. We were naked and having sex with your parents in the next room until I pointed that fact out. You shrugged, pulled out, and I worried–we hadn’t used a condom. You shrugged again. I was on birth control, and hoped you were clean. I followed you out the door.

In a dark hallway, waiting for the elevator, people were milling about and when the doors opened I was about to get in but you stopped me. Started kissing me again. Told me it was my turn. And I fucked you against a wall but good. You held me but I fucked you. This was clear.

Neither of us climaxed. Those sensations seemed long gone and the sex quick and dramatic only in the mere fact that it was happening at all.

I told you you must be a man whore now. You shrugged, this gesture which had never been characteristic, and you said maybe. I asked how many. You said four. I asked if that was four hookups or four people you’d had sex with on and off. You said it was on and off sex. Nothing serious, was the implication.

You put me to sleep again and I found him there, in bed with me, waking up. I snuggled into his back. Warm and broad. When he turned to me I kissed him, recapturing his feeling. He was nothing like you. He was better than you, and this dream felt more vivid than your awakening. I kissed him again. He held me.I told him I’d had a nightmare, when in reality, I had no idea whether I was now in one of those or in a good dream, where you can taste and smell more, where time is more linear. Those dreams are calming, settling, and I preferred those overall to the reality I’d just experienced, which was so strange.

Because you stopped me before, when I tried to kiss you. You told me that I didn’t matter in the way I wanted to matter. And for the first time, I didn’t force myself upon you, and I accepted that you were different. I let you come to me. I took what happened on its own terms.

Still. I’m glad to be dreaming again.

The Town and the North [Flash Fiction]

Once upon a time, there were train tracks. Along the tracks, somewhere midway between their beginning and end, was a town. It was small and rustic and old, the kind of town where you married the boy you played with when you were four and grew up to be just like your grandparents, grumpily proclaiming that things were different in your day, even though they really weren’t. It was the kind of town that few people left, and if they did leave, you knew they weren’t going to come back. It was the kind of town that could fulfill your dreams; your dreams were small and simple because you didn’t really believe there was a whole world outside of the town, a world where you could do something different than what your parents did before you. It was the kind of town that killed any aspirations you had above your station and strangled your imagination because it interfered with what you were supposed to do to make your family proud.

Nobody in the town knew what the train tracks were. The train that had once run along the edge of town had been diverted to a different route so long ago that nobody in living memory even knew what exactly a train looked like. The children in the town knew that if they ever worked up the courage to leave, they would follow the tracks. On long summer days, they dared each other to go farther and farther down the tracks, always turning away with frightened giggles when they reached Old Gabby’s farm a little outside town. Everyone knew that Old Gabby was crazy and that his dogs were vicious, and whenever the children heard the barks, they would lose their nerve.

They never went the other way down the tracks. That way, North, lay something more frightening than dogs and crazy old men, something that parents didn’t even need to warn their children about; the kids learned quickly enough that when they tried to go North, their skin began to prickle, their hair stood up on their arms, and the world seemed to darken. Nobody every talked about it. It was the kind of town that didn’t like to voice certain things.

That became a problem when one day in late autumn, a woman ran into town from the North and fell, panting and red-faced, onto the mayor’s porch. She managed to scratch a word in the snow before she passed out: “Help.”

Miss

I miss things.

I miss things that I’ve never had, like long, flowing blonde hair and dozens of friends who look up to me as the queen bee. I miss having wit and barb and fashion sense. I miss having rustic sensibilities and morals and pens made of feathers. I miss writing letters to lovers gone off to war and knitting booties at home for the baby next door. I miss drinking gin and smoking in a dark, romantic bar with a slew of friends gathered round me. I miss walking in fields of flowers with a dog trotting faithfully beside me. I miss having the time to watch sunsets or rather the will to do so. I miss the excitement of court or the comfort of freshly baked bread in the English countryside. I miss high-school dances and yearbooks, being in societies and clubs. I miss singing jazz and opera and dancing ballet in pointed shoes with a muscled partner to lift me up to the skies with grace and beauty. I miss flying a plane and being patted on the back by men who look up to me, my sunglasses hiding the glint of my eyes. I miss appreciating music because it is rare or ice-cream for the same reason.

I miss things that I’ve had and lost even more. I miss my childhood. I miss the joy of reading Harry Potter for the first time. I miss walking to nursery school in the mornings and thinking my parents would never die. I miss looking forward to my first kiss. I miss filling hours up with happiness and fun. I miss my spontaneity, my freedom with food, my baby fat. I miss spending time with my friends without feeling the gloom settle down on me. I miss being happy and optimistic, if ever such a thing were possible entirely. I miss lying in a bed with red sheets and only one pillow for two and knowing that I am loved unconditionally. I miss waking up to a smile, being greeted with joy. I miss conversations and kisses and hugs. I miss security and knowledge that the present is good. I miss feeling better all of a sudden.

I miss things. I miss times I’ve never had and times I hope I’ll have again and times that I know I never will. I miss people and words and glances and gestures. I miss.

Joshua

Josh put down the Starbucks paper cup and breathed a sigh of relief. He’d been craving his chai latte since three in the morning when he first woke up. The dreams were back, and he was sleeping worse than ever. His therapist kept asking him if he could describe them, and he tried, he really did, but the problem was that the moment he talked about his dreams, they’d flee his mind. It was as if the contents of his horrible nightly escapades were only alive when they could torture him, and him alone. If he tried to confide in anyone else, he would suddenly find that he couldn’t grasp any detail of dream. He wouldn’t find the words to describe the monstrous visions or the frightening scenarios, and he’d finally fall silent, muttering feebly that he knew the dreams were horrible but simply couldn’t remember them at present. His therapist thought that he was repressing something, and was very worried about him.

If he was being honest with himself, Josh was worried too. The last time he’d had the dreams was when he started law school. They’d caused him to drop out after a while, and he’d spent almost a year in a haze of pot, occasional boozing and general self-destruction. It took him a long time to force his life back together. He’d felt like Humpty Dumpty for years, putting himself together piece by piece because all the king’s horses and all the king’s men had given up on him.

Now he was thirty-five and was the manager of the distribution offices in a company that sold furniture. It wasn’t an impressive job by any means – his office was one of many that were spread around the country, and so there were some fifty other people in the company with the exact same job title as him. That wasn’t to say that he hadn’t worked hard to reach this position. He had, and he’d suffered for a few years at the entry level customer service before he began climbing the ranks. All in all, he was pleased with his job. He had his own office on the tenth floor with a view of the courtyard that his building shared with the other five in the office complex that was comfortably nestled in Downtown.

Josh rubbed his eyes and tried to wake himself up. Since three that morning he’d dozed on and off until six, when the alarm clock rang and his day began. He’d gone to bed at one in the morning, so he had, in reality, a total of two hours sleep. He smiled as he took another sip of his chai latte. At least his slow and tentative relationship with Mia wasn’t being screwed up by his dreams. She’d kissed him sweetly last night after they’d enjoyed a glass of red wine at the bar he took her to after dinner. They’d talked for hours, sipping their wine slowly in a corner table and enjoying the dim light of the bar that made them feel as if they were all alone. When he’d walked her home, she’d kissed him at the door, called him a perfect gentleman, and then, with that ever-surprising grin of hers, she’d ducked into the building and shut the door firmly behind her. He’d walked back to his own apartment in a delirious daze.

Mia had been part of his life for two years, although she hadn’t realized how much she’d meant to him. She’d been serving him chai lattes, apple pie slices and chocolate chunk cookies at Starbucks almost every morning since she’d started working there and Josh had fallen for her just a little bit more every day. He’d finally gotten the guts to ask her out after she’d been promoted to assistant manager of her branch and wasn’t working at the counter anymore. Josh’s therapist was very proud of him and felt that this was definitely a positive step forward in his constant struggle to keep the normal, functioning life he’d built for himself.

He hadn’t told Mia about his dreams. He hadn’t even tried. They’d been going out for over a month, but Mia, as she told him last night, was in a precarious emotional state. She had survived a badly abusive relationship and had abstained from going out with men for about three years. Josh was the first man she’d felt comfortable enough to go out with, and her own therapist, she reported to Josh, was proud of her as well. They’d joked about having a conference call with their respective psychologists and fixing them up. They’d also wondered idly whether the two were married already without their patients’ knowledge.

But Mia had kissed him, finally, and Josh was ecstatic. As he finally turned from the window in his office toward his computer and the work that was waiting for him, he decided that he’d call her later that afternoon and tell her that he’d had an incredible time last night and that he hoped to see her again. Soon.

He reached for his diary and checked which tasks he’d written down that were a priority that morning. He decided to get the phone calls over with first and then turn to the stack of reports that were awaiting his scrutiny. It was as he clicked on the speaker-phone button that he remembered that Mia had been in his dream. His hand froze over the buttons and eventually the dial tone was replaced with the beep-beep-beep of a phone off the hook. Josh sat still as a stone as horrible visions flashed through his mind again, Mia’s face featuring clearly in them.

Finally, he turned off the speaker and held up his Starbucks cup. He stared at it, unseeing, and turned it around and around in his hands. Not Mia, he thought, pleading with his subconscious. Please, not Mia…

The Bringer of Dreams

The Bringer of Dreams is an artist. She’s old, as old as humanity itself, but she doesn’t look it. Not always, at least. She changes bodies as the whim takes her. Sometimes she’s a little girl with red curls and freckles. Sometimes she’s a teenager dressed all in black, hair a mass of spikes and metal rings through every bit of skin that can hold them. Sometimes she’s a soft-faced woman, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans, hands rough but kind. Sometimes she’s an old, old woman, wrapped in shawls, knobbly cane at her side and eyes tired with the hurt she’s seen and the wisdom she’s acquired.

The Bringer of Dreams lives outside of time. Her home varies as her bodies do, changing from mansion to cottage to trendy apartment to wooden cabin to an abandoned squat full of dust. She feels comfortable whatever her home looks like – comfortable in her skin, in her surroundings, in her art.

Her media vary just as much, because all humans dream a little differently. There are times when she’ll paint pictures in oil, making the details perfect and the shades magical. At others, she’ll work in crayon, roughly sketching in shapes and rubbing the colors to look blurry and unclear. Sometimes she’ll snap photos, or film something, making the most life-like dreams imaginable and sending them off.

She does this over and over again. For each human, a few dreams a night. Every night. For all eternity. But she lives outside time, and her impetuous, playful nature means she never gets bored – or if she does, she’ll just change everything around her, and start anew with something else.

The Bringer of Dreams is an artist, and she’ll always be there, sending us dreams, night after night, year after year, age upon age.

Castles in the Sky

Only lately have I actually realized what dream is forming slowly but surely in my mind. It didn’t start out as something I was aware of, but rather just an idea that floated around the empty grey spaces at the back of my mind – you know, the place where your chores usually go and from which you fish out weird random facts once in a while, like “Curiosity killed the cat” isn’t the full proverb, it’s “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.”

The thing that I realized is this: I have had this blog for a month and a half now, perhaps even a bit more. The days I haven’t written have been very few, and then it was because I wasn’t at home and had no way to write that day. More and more, writing is becoming part of my daily routine. I might not write all that well, I might not be particularly interesting, but writing is becoming more and more a part of my life.

The dreams that this fact arouses send me into a quiet frenzy, the likes of which I haven’t had in a long time. I still love the idea of acting and I still love the idea of singing. I still love the thousand-and-one professions I wish I could shove into a lifetime. But slowly, the thought of being able to actually write for a living one day – even if it is twenty years in the future – makes me feel as if my stomach is about to explode in a burst of confetti and joy.