I wrote this in hopes of getting a feel for describing what we don't know--the place where the forgotten goes, ghosts, the place in our visual field where we see visions. I hope you find some enjoyment out of it! I'd love any feedback. There's some profanity that's spelled improperly on purpose here.
When the water came on, realization flew: “My synapses haven’t seen this excitement since…” And it crashed. I had no reference point to match that everyday rush of icy spheres gliding across the results of the southeastern summer on skin. I even knew the water was coming. I turned the knob--the cold one--I waited for it to flow, and then stepped in. I thought I had minimized the surprise. My knowledge of what will happen and what it should feel like might have had a more successful journey as a polar bear traversing the Gobi desert on its way to my consciousness of the near future. Presaged occurrences usually end up getting lost along the way.
Now there was only the task of accepting that where there were refreshing spasms, there would soon be just wet skin. The water told me so. The drops hissed “we can share the burden of your heat, but we cannot spare your sensations.” I stalled in accepting this sacrifice; I wanted every drop to bite. So, I got out, and went to turn on some music in hopes of overpowering the whispers riding on the breath of artificial rain. Hopped back in, tingled again, though slightly less than the last time, as the water warned. A self-fulfilling prophesy? Could have been, but I don’t know if reflexive ion exchanges believe in them. Luckily, there was an added sensation to be found on this entrance: my stomach churned as my ears were relishing the attention. The @s$holes who were doing the homophobic yelling earlier downstairs might come screaming at me “MUSIC NEEDS TO GO DOWN, DICKWEED. IT’S MIDNIGHT. @S$.” I had never seen the guys who lived beneath me, only heard their yelling and music at inconvenient hours. I had flickers of guts towards flickers of archetypal doushebags. My fist passed through their jaw, which passed through the visible dreamworld that lay somewhere between the foreground, retina, and the ever-expanding echo of unassembled memories.
Of course I knew what I was really going to say. “Oh yeah, heh, real sorry about that. I was in the shower and the music kicked up on its own.” So, for fear of being stood up on that date with Glory, I turned the music down. Wet mutations of my footprints painted the wood floor as I scampered back to my source of stimulation. I was now the conductor of an orchestra of sections nobody really wanted. Sagacious water, imaginary underground voices, and music that I wished were louder. However, my body was cooled, my nerves were satisfied, still sending their thanks for making them feel useful for the first time since….
My teeth felt gritty. I wasn’t quite done with another day yet. I had associated into existence the idea that clean teeth equal a concrete conclusion to my day. The feeling of overpowering, spicy minty freshness naturally precedes dreams. However, my toothbrush was not cooperating for the first time since…another buried reference point. I have this recurring thought every time I misplace something: “At some point, they’ll have a button for finding things. When that day comes, I bet I’m going to think ‘At some point, people had to find things themselves. That’s the way it still should be.’” This dumb idea and I walked around the back of the house a couple times. Twenty or so minutes later, I was defeated, and had to secede the closure of the evening to the mysterious forces of things that engulf or move practical items when you’re not looking for movement and not listening for snickering.
It could have been revenge. I mean, the toothbrush was probably tired of being treated like a whore for its 3-month life-span. A toothbrush has one use, and I believe this toothbrush knew that. I have no connection to it, except for the connection of sensation present during its two-minute use. When it’s too frayed at the edges, can’t do its job very well, I throw it away. This whore was smarter than my last toothbrush, and I was kind of glad it escaped my tyrannical grasp before it was labeled useless after being the timekeeper of two integral parts of my day—waking and unwaking.
So, no spicy, minty freshness? No dreams. Not yet, anyway. Thoughts would have to substitute until his phalanx became too bruised and weary to have any effect on the nefarious nemesis Loneliness, and the creature beyond all men, Craziness. Hallucinations then could storm in and play the hero, like he always does, and then the stories would be told for generations by Dreams, who would get interrupted by the knight Noises, who always wanted more attention than everyone knew he deserved. So it was, a battle against Loneliness in the war against Craziness. I was about to find out how long Thoughts could last.
If thoughts are seeds, then the greatest farmer I have ever known is the mirror. There are tiny doubts ensconced within everyone’s cerebral scaffolding. The mirror seems to be what shows us these doubts, magnifies them, and repeats them as if the doubts were themselves standing between two mirrors, being reflected back and forth an infinite amount of times in directions we can’t see, but we are aware of. So, I looked into a mirror for a little bit, to see what thoughts would flare, to see what doubts were coiled snakes, covered in gasoline fangs. The fangs on these things started at the surface, dwelling on issues of vanity. “What a stupid haircut.” Sinking. “These freckles. These yellow teeth. My body is a stain.” Envenoming. “I didn’t realize how much I could never have until now.” Burning, but it’s better than lonely.
Then, sanity doubts usurped the vanity bouts.
The thing that looks back from the mirror always appears a little different when it’s the only other thing in the house with eyes. A little more distant. A little more like a human facsimile of electromagnetic energy. A little less “you”, but more “you” than you had ever known. The thoughts in my head were different than the thoughts of this thing staring back. Maybe not, though. I didn’t know what this particular plane in two-dimensional space was thinking. In that regard, he was less “me”. I did know what this thing looked like, except for during blinks. Except for when I closed my eyes and waited to feel like I was being watched. Most eerily, most importantly, I had a two-dimensional interpretation of what it was that he was seeing: the same thing that is seen by everyone else. The best I can do is to see two dimensions of what others see. Still, more “me” than I had ever known about before looking at the mirror. Maybe you know more about me than it’s possible for me to know about myself. An out-of-body experience that triggers the most in-body experience I can fathom. The day that I can see myself when wading through silence and shadows is the day that I run away from myself, unable to handle the weight of the introspection this would induce. I fear that somehow science will make this one of those self-fulfilling prophesies, and I will be nowhere to be found in my shell, circa 2014. Blurry, green, infrared caricatures of me in the night are not convincing enough at this point.
I turned off the mirror, accepting a slightly weaker foe: darkness. There are taxes in this exchange that I completely miscalculated. Absence of light and sound are related; in cahoots. Darkness echoes loudest in a valley void of sound. Silence sets black flame to the darkness, intensifying it, until we can smell its spreading, taste its vastness. To face the dark and quiet, Hallucinations and his cavalry better be nearby. Unfortunately, his horse was nowhere near the valley’s horizon on this night. I’ll accept this challenge. I wasn’t totally alone, I still had Thoughts left.
My visual fields got bored first, and so they were first to succumb to mischief and vandalism as a means of entertainment. I wouldn’t say I started “seeing” ghosts, just imagining what might appear if seeing were to occur; an incandescent, silken human silhouette, its source of light and heat appearing to be a desire for its own density. I could only think “Wow, a ghost would be great right now, actually. There might be a friend floating in the ether around me. At the very least, there would be an external spirit enemy, instead of myself.” And this was the first time I had ever welcomed the idea of sharing space with ghosts. It was a breakthrough. What I had broken through was a little unnerving, a little more vicious than my new friends or enemies could be. I had broken through the concept that desired communication shall be limited to other tangible beings. And then I found loopholes, and they shattered that concept.
I have had a pen pal for about 7 years now. Our distance makes me feel insulated from any potential harm she could do. I tell her everything I’d like to say because none of it matters to anybody who matters to her. The dagger in every secret dissipates on its journey into her atmosphere. I know she wouldn’t willfully do any harm, but potential without intent still leads to pain, and pain doesn’t care if intentions are involved. I hope we get to toss our daggers back and forth forever, and you could say I love her. But, she is nothing tangible to me. She is a listener, a giver of advice and anecdotes. I know she is a person, but the symbiotic pen pal relationship is not one revolved around physical or even visible comforts. There are fabled lovers who fell desperately in love with a voice, a letter, a song, an eloquence, a ghost. I then wondered if I could love the ghost that I might have seen. Could I trade words, and only words, for an unknown number of years--an unknown number of unborn hugs and kisses, and romantic wishes? Nothing that my pen pal provides is outside the realm of what a ghost maybe could. I guess all I wanted was a pen pal to cut this silent pitch in half. It was garroting in its entirety, manageable in halves; the difficulty was dealing with this as truth.
That was called justifying my first wishes of having ghosts around. What followed might be even harder to justify.
I began playing dress-up with the ethereal cobweb I saw before me, and an out-of-place British accent did some amazing things to its wardrobe.
“What gender is this thing? Oh, sorry miss….Yes, I know you’re not just a thing, I do apologize. My, that’s a thick southern accent.”
Southern Bell it is, and a southern ball it shall be. It’s about time we impressed the mayor, and alerted him to all the success the pharmacy has been having in this town.
Yes dear, even if we don’t have a plantation, a gardener, and two cooks. We don’t need that junk. All we need is in this room. The stars have a plantation—it’s called the sky. We have one too—it’s called you and I.
Don’t have your dress cleaned? Darling, this occasion cannot squeeze into that little dress of yours. I think you might find this one more fitting.
Nonsense. Of course we can afford it. What I cannot afford is to see this dress done an injustice by having anyone else wear it.
My love, there is not one bee in all the south that could have produced a more tantalizing honey than what stands before me. Be calm, it is time to shine. Mind your bonnet!
The ball was a great success. Mayor Timms was very impressed, and the town was ecstatic to have such elegance in its pharmacy. Also, the presence of the word bonnet was a clear indication that I had finally cracked, and that I was saved. My imaginings had finally fallen under the unpredictable and lively command of our hero Hallucinations. Thoughts had been worn too thin, but he was within reach of a speedy recovery.
“…Flames defined the city, but nobody seemed to care. A warm breeze replaced the nation’s cold fear, and the people felt as though life was theirs again. Their emotions no longer belonged to the state. They were saved. They had one man and two donkeys to thank--”
“That guy Dreams is always poisoning the minds of my squires. Children! Come inside now, it’s time to get to work. Enough of the dallying.”
“Come on! It’s almost overrr.”
“I said now! There’s much to do.”
“Kids, listen to Noises for now. There will be more stories.”
Nobody wants to hear the knight Noises. Hearing that guy is inevitably losing an ending. Not ever having the satisfaction of knowing what happens. The ending could have been comprised of a beauty powerful enough to act as inertia in the waking world. For any action that seems relevant in the dream world, it takes a will stronger than our belief in our perceptions to perform this action “back home”. The ending could have produced a tear on my pillow. It could have yielded a laugh, maybe a scream. It could have elicited nothing special. Worst of all, I will never know. I don’t remember what the dream was even about. Nor do I remember what the noise was that pulled me away from it. The loose end hung there, back in my lonely world full of the senses I sometimes call privileges, but were now considered curses. The loose end then seethed and shriveled back into some unimaginable mystery that I can only describe as a “somewhere”. The place where lost thoughts live is where you will find a blur in a map of language.
I thought about the power of the unknown, now that I was awake. My conclusion was that it’s huge. How we interpret the unknown is what shakes open that chasm between the optimists and the rest. Thankfully, this conclusion satiated my conscious self for now, and I drifted back into safety. Thoughts ceased in time for my eyelids to shield my eyes before nighttime and stillness could grasp my vulnerabilities, and then I’d be awake and alone until exhaustion, chipping pieces off of my ego and into the night.
In dreaming, I guess I shed my vulnerabilities. At least, they don’t affect my actions. I have dreamt many times that I went to school naked. In the dream, I didn’t like it; being naked was being vulnerable. Apparently though, I didn’t seem to care enough to not show up to school naked. Is the dream “me” what I would be if I didn’t fit my actions around my vulnerability, physical or otherwise?
Sometimes, it’s painful to fabricate wishes that I know I will never come true. Each hallucination and accompanying story is just a little taste of the ambrosia that the gods never bring to the level of beings attached to the sleep world. Working another day at keeping Loneliness away would happen regardless of the adventures my mind would wander off to create. So, I welcome these little treasures with alacrity. They really end up being the most exciting part of the X’s on the calendar, which is a testament to many things: the ruthlessness of being an outsider, the power of stories, and the limitations of cold water.