This One Time, 99

This one time I was lying on my back in bed, doing the usual thing I do when I can’t get to sleep, which is nothing. Straight-edged shadows crept across the ceiling, accelerating and whipping across, then slowing down again as cars drove past on the road outside, headlights at their brightest on the unlit road. I don’t sleep very well sometimes, especially lately, but I don’t make it worse by letting it get to me and fighting it.

This house that used to be home is now just a large box made of some smaller boxes, connected by hallways. I live here because it’s better than sleeping outdoors. Also I keep my stuff here, not that I have much stuff worth keeping. But when it comes right down to it, I don’t so much live in this place as haunt it.

A home is someplace you can feel protected and comfortable. You surround yourself there with diversions and symbols of peace and kinship and brighter memories of history. My history has been revoked. My future has been shattered. There’s nothing left for me here but debris.

Maybe it’s just the house that’s dead, while I’m still alive. These things being relative, it’s hard to tell which is which. I want to move on, but I don’t even know what that means.

On my back in the bed, I watch the lights and shadows move on the ceiling and — well, I’d say daydream, but it’s definitely nighttime — imagine that the lights outside the window are from a spaceship coming in for a landing in the high grass out front, or perhaps weaving between the thready pines to find a convenient place to hover by my second-storey window. The light brightens to an almost daytime glow as the lock turns and the window slides up. A wind enters second, behind the light, and blows the curtains and some dust around the room, and the next thing to enter is another shadow, followed by the shape that cast it.

In this dream-vision, I am unable to move. The dark figure that has come in through the window fills the room with a presence, the same way that even the smallest snake can fill a room so full that almost everyone wants to leave immediately, even though the snake is in no way threatening. The fact of its existence is enough to make all other details unimportant by comparison.

I can no longer feel the bed beneath me, so I must be floating. I still can’t turn to look at my visitor, my examiner, my judge. The room turns around me. Am I being carried toward the window?

If I were to leave, to be taken aboard the craft outside the window and removed from this place, I would not be missed. I fill no niche. I have no job, no close family. I would just go into the light, and vanish, and be forgotten. I have already entered into my afterlife.

Am I dreaming of the beginning of a new adventure, a fantasy of a fresh chapter, of a clean, break, of abandoning the wreckage to the waves of entropy, or simply escape? The light brightens as my feet orient toward the window and supported by my dream, I float through it into a blinding white light. There is one last dark circle, a black hoop comprised of a thin slice of yard and dark sky. Passing through it entails a brief heart-stopping agony, and then I am on the other side.

The room was gray when I next woke up. The weak early sunlight didn’t want to be in my bedroom any more than I did. The air was stuffy. The window was closed. The floor was covered with a scattering of discarded clothes. Just my luck. I was abducted and delivered to a new life that was, in every way I could immediately see, absolutely no better than my last one.

No matter. At least I knew the routine. I would shower and dress. I would eat and put on shoes and leave my box full of boxes and make the rounds of my usual haunts. But this time I would look for all the tiny details that my imaginary abductor might have gotten wrong, those tiny little details that would be cracks where I could dig in my nails and peel up the layers of debris and dust that were obscuring my new life.


April 9, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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