dreams

chinatown

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waiting on the curb for your train to arrive, a woman walked past who looked like she came from another world. a second later she was lost among the cars, the people, and the late afternoon sun, all begging me to remember them just as they are now. they wound themselves around me, and I got lost. the best kind of lost. the kind where anything can happen, like you might turn into a bird or I might already be a bird or your train might come in like a purple summer breeze that brushes the hairs on my arms.

or it might never come. I hung in limbo hoping it would never come because once you got here it would be only one thing when I wanted it to be everything. but you did get here and you told me about an art museum you visited, and while we walked I drank sake from the bottle.

and we are not in love! oh, but what if? one, two, three more drinks and let’s pretend. stand closer. talk softer. breathe faster. let’s pretend. and I will go home alone tonight and sleep well because we have a small house by the sea where we watch the stars come out every night. sometimes we touch hands, and most of the time we are happy. there are still some weeds growing in the garden on the side of the house, but we will get them tomorrow.

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On Being Medicated

Pills

Previously published on Thought Catalog

You function “like a normal person.” You take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and make it out the door in less than an hour. It used to take you the whole morning. And two to three cups of tea. And a handful of songs that glistened on your ears. If you made it out at all. You used to lose time looking out the window because everything was beautiful, and everything in every season had a hazy glow attached to it. In the summer you’d go out to see what the plants looked like after the heavy sky left drops of rain on the leaves. In the winter the fresh snow would cover everything and fill your mind with soft corners.

But now, none of that. There are only dirty sidewalks and messy gardens and more fucking snow. The world is a place you are forced walk across to get to work/school/home. At work you answer emails and make phone calls and order supplies and tie up loose ends and find solutions to problems. Under fluorescent lights you go to meetings and cross things off your to-do list. Your hair is combed, your tights don’t have runs in them, and your boss praises you. You smile because you have forgotten that this is not you.

No, the You you’ve known all your life would not feel good about completing a purchase order or remembering which folder a document is in. The You before the medication had dreams about doing more than this. It was always Which city am I going to next? And now it’s When is the microwave in the breakroom free? During the day this doesn’t seem like a big deal because you are focused and productive. You see clear goals and paths carved out to get you there. You are medicated, and everything is linear.

But when have you ever been a fan of straight lines? At night you remember how you used to love the twisted ones best. How much time did you spend just wandering, even if it meant not getting where you were supposed to go? You would always find something better, or at the very least you’d see/touch/taste/feel something amazing on the way there. The world was not something you were forced to be in; you wanted to be in it, badly, and wanted it in you. You wanted to put your hands on it and breathe it in. What was that like, again?

It’s too hard to remember because every morning you wake up and swallow a blue capsule that pushes all that out of sight. It gives you tunnel vision, and during the half hour it takes to kick in you can feel the narrowing like waves crashing over you. Soon this part will be over, though. Soon you won’t be reaching out to grab the hand of the person you used to be while the tide pulls her under. You’ll forget her and you’ll forget the way the sun hit the streets just right this morning and how the breeze brushed past you whispering “Follow” as it disappeared around the corner. You’ll be fine, and you won’t dream.

It’s ok because this is what the doctor says is “fine.” This is what your parents and teachers and bosses say is “fine.” But you know this is not fine because fine is having space for your thoughts to breathe. It is thanking the stars or the lord or the Smiths that you are not like the others. It is what you were before you were medicated. It can be yours again, and you know it, and each day it’s harder and harder to hold your breath and go underwater. One day you won’t do it. You’ll just stop, and you’ll live again. You’ll stop, and you’ll see and feel and be in love with the world again. Any minute now.

This is Fiction I Swear: Part 14

Part 14: A Parting Shot

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Sometimes the papers don’t tell the stories we need to hear. They tell us about robberies and murders and corrupt politicians but they don’t tell us about boys with light hair who try to steal your souls or about girls with nice smiles who lie to your faces. They don’t tell stories about us. So I tell them. Sit down and listen. Lend your ear to the one who might cut it off.

The sky is lilac for some reason tonight and strange spaces are opening up between the buildings. I can’t think of any good words to put down in this letter so I stop where I am, I stop with what I have, right in the middle of the sentence. She’ll get it. I fold it up and put it in an envelope and drop it in the rusted box at the corner. Then I jog across the street at the red light and continue down 18th. I’ve got ends to tie up before I go.

Past the park I used to cut through in nicer weather. Past the trees they planted in September. Past shops and cafes and everything that has been bought and sold, bought and sold, like you say. Find something that hasn’t been! And I can’t.

I can’t think of what I’m going to say to you because my mind is full of your earliest memory. You told me about it once, about sitting on the floor while your parents argued in an apartment off Lawrence. About yellow lights and floorboards and the smell of Chinese cooking. It sounds sort of nice to me. It sounds like being underwater while the world explodes up above: only muffled noises reach my ears and it all seems far away. The water holds me and flames can’t touch me. Nothing can touch me.

I stop in front of your apartment and look up, way up to the window that lets a pitiful amount of light into your living room. Even in daytime. Wait, is it your living room? Or maybe your bedroom? I have to think. I’m going over the layout in my mind, getting all tangled up in the rooms and the corners and the walls and the floors when I hear my name.

-Ana.

You’re standing in the open doorway looking like a storm is about to hit. You know why I’m here. I ask politely if I can please come up, and you step aside and let me pass: up the creaking stairs, three flights, cobwebs above, below, and on all sides. Your door is open when I get to the top so I walk in and set down what I’ve brought. I promised to return it weeks and weeks ago. It might have been months but here I am finally and you don’t look mad that I’ve kept it so long. You look like you’d rather never see it again, like if it would keep me from saying what I’m about to say you’d have it buried deep underground where no one would lay eyes on it until the end of time when the earth turns inside out and all things hidden come to the surface.

-How are you?

-Fine.

-Is it ok if I leave this here?

-Sure.

The dishes are dirty in the sink. There are clothes everywhere and a few cans of soda on the table near the couch. You’re staring at me while I look around the room in all its chaos. They say a system needs chaos. They say it wants to be in disorder, that it’s more stable that way, and I’d like to believe them.

Finally I look up at you and you take a step closer to me, challenging me to say it. Go on, I dare you. I part my lips to speak and you step forward again. I’m forgetting everything and I have no idea where I am or if it’s hot or cold or if I’m moving or standing still.

You put your hand on the back of my neck and lean forward so our foreheads are touching. Eyes closed, we hang on, for how long I cannot say.