Morning is Broken

{I was searching for the sketch I did of the nightmare I recalled in my last post when I came across some assignments I saved from college. This one was supposed to be recounting part of a normal day in the minutiaist style of James Joyce’s  Ulysses. It gave me the most powerful flashback to the morning I recounted that I thought I’d share it here.}

The mirror bids me good morning as usual. Nightshirt off. Panties on. Good morning to the closet of a bedroom and ugly white walls covered in black and white photos of other people kissing. Good morning to the spots on my face, too small breasts, too wide hips. And now a head of hair that’s about eight colors because I can’t leave it alone. Idiot.

     …ugly. Say it, say you’re not good enough. 

     I’m not good enough. 

     That’s right. You’re lucky, aren’t you? So lucky I keep you. 

Stop it. Stop.

A shake of the head. Hands ball into fists far too late to act as any real defense.

     Don’t think of him. 

A sigh. Stomach flat. Edge of a hip. Okay. Better. A turn. Cellulite.

…not good enough….not good enough….not good-STOP! 

Debating breakfast. I run hands over the straight lines of my collarbones, down arms, almost skinny enough. Grip breasts. Fuck it. Shower.

After the shower, it’s quiet. Anna is asleep still. Elyssa gone. Dance probably. Theatre major. Daisy… probably upstairs in her boyfriend’s bed.

Lonely. Still and lonely.

There’s a tiny patch of sunlight that hits the corner of the living room. It glints off the edge of a bit of fingernail clipping, caught in the buzzcut carpet. Silver polish. Not mine. Should vacuum. Swear I’m the only one that cleans. But that’s all right.

I don’t mind. Keeps my mind busy.

     You’re everyone’s mum then. 

     Not really. 

     You are. But it’s endearing. 

THERE’S a happy thought. Daniel. Lips. Hair. Eyes. Voice. Accent. Hair on his chest. Man. Man. Love. Eyes. So new.

     They’re hazel. That’s what you were wondering. I saw it. 

Movie theater. Valentines Day. Walking home. Hollywood after dark. Down those streets a thousand times but not with him. Hands, laced in the dark. Lips. Chest. The curl of brown hair, chest, stomach, lower. God, how I love…

   …the way “Robo-Cop” sounds with an English accent. 

I sit in the patch of sun. Wedge in next to the sliding glass door, press my back against the wall, heartened by the feeling of my vertebrae pricking my skin from the inside against the plaster and at the same time hating that the feeling cheers me up slightly. I brush my hair, eyes closed. Copper tipped bristles scrape my scalp. The sun’s glowing warmth hits a shoulder and a hip first. Spreads from the points. It’s the wrong angle to be hot, just the sensation of being touched by light. A hum starts in my throat.

No one’s around to hear. Lonely and still. Quiet, so quiet. It’s not that bad.

Two sips of whisky in the flash but I’m not gonna drink it

Swear I’ll make it last til we’re

Drinking out of the same glass again

The rythm of my brushing keeps time to Passenger tunes.

Ahhh Passenger. 

Daniel, Daniel. Where’s my phone? Eyes open. Done with the brush. I stretch in the sun. Curl my toes like tender leaves of grass in a breeze.

My legs are skinny at least, thought they look sickly and pale in the direct sunlight. I can see every tiny blue vein through the vellum I’m made of. Blue. Wormlike. No one will love you. My skin is so easily broken. I’m made of tissue paper.

I’m still in my towel. And I’m sure I should getting off to somewhere. Class perhaps.

Who am I kidding, of course class. I’ve missed far too many days already.

Dress. Leggings. Shoes. Eyeliner. Halfassed and smudged. Powder. Nothing else. I might have a date tonight and that calls for the full nine. Though I get the impression that this one wouldn’t mind if I skipped the makeup. Simplify simplify. Maybe that’s why I l-ike being around him.

Though the sand may be washed by the sea.

The old may be lost in the new

Four will not wait for three

I like my voice at least. Soft, husky, good ear for pitch.

Class. Too hot. Took the stairs and am out of breath. Sitting against the wall, my own misshapen citadel, I fan myself  with the yellow legal pad I keep with me for my lists. And the letters.

Daniel: I miss you. Is that selfish? Very well then, it’s selfish. You’ll never read this. 

     You’ll never know…

     I love him, I love him. It’s pointless. He’ll just go back to England. But I love him. 

Check the ipod, finally. I have to wait. Can’t just check it constantly. Have to have some boundaries. Inbox. Empty. Refreshrefreshrefresh. One message. Not him. Leave it. Glance up. Professor’s chatting. Down again, reach for the watch I left on the bathroom countrer. Stupid. I crane at the clock and feel hideously rude. Two minutes left.

Refreshrefreshrefresh.

Nothing.

     Three never waited for two. 

     Though you will not wait for me

Scratching a heart on the corner of one yellow sheet in pencil. Graphite smudged on my fingertips. Scratching it out again.

     I’ll wait for you. 

Stomach growls. I pretend it’s upset. It is, but for the lack of foord, rather than what sort. Tap my foot, tap the tip of my pencil against the desk. Tap the toes inside my shoe. The usual anxiety building. I should focus on something else.

     I can’t take this deep slow panic. 

     Teach me, teach me not to dream

     Dream deeply

Tap in time to the shift in soundtrack.

Professor. Erin. I call her Erin. Even when I’m not in class. Hands me something. Journal. Never know if I’m doing these right. Wish I could compare with other people. But I don’t talk to them.

What? My hair. I touch it.

It doesn’t look bad.

A grin.

Thanks. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

I cling to the wall. I needed that. Shouldn’t have dyed it. Shouldn’t mess with it. Why do I bother trying to be pretty? Why. But she was kind.

She’s always kind. I wonder if she knows.

Orientation. 3? 4 years? English advising. Saw the tattoo on her wrist. Her smile the first that didn’t make me want to hide under a table. Or run. No more school. Please no more people.

I sat to her right. Or left? So long ago. Only her face left, her wrist. It’s the little things that stick. Most important.

Maybe I won’t be weird here. Maybe… 

She’s my favorite. Role model. Something. Has been since day one. Never told. How would I even go about doing that? So infinitely awkward. I don’t keep my mouth shut enough as is. Maybe at graduation.

You kept me here. 

     I just wanted to be like you. 

Erin, green gem of the silver sea, or at least hope for a place where I’d be comfortable in my skin.

One minute to class time. Attendance poll. The routine.

Blergh

I like class. What I don’t like is leaving my closet of a room. The bathtub, no water, knees to chest, huddled. It’ll be okay. It’s okay. I’m okay. Class is great. Rooms are too big. The walk there too open. Too many people. Like cattle lowing and ambling from one pen to another.

Let the day begin.

Refresh the inbox one last time. One message. Him. Wrong him.

Subject: YOU

Body: need to get back to me. You don’t get to do this. YOU are MINE. Call me. NOW.

-M

And this routine’s back.

 No one else will want you, say it, say it. 

Don’t think of him. Don’t. Don’t. Ipod away. Hiding. Routine. Fear. Loathing. Also routine.

Face in hands. Phone lights up.

New message from: Daniel

Temptation. Class has technically started. But I need this. I need this.

I can resist anything but temptation. Just a peek.

Morning angel. Walk with me tonight? It might rain : ) xx

Worth it. I do love walking in the rain. So does he. And his umbrella’s a perfect fit for two.

Nobody else will want you, say it, say it SAY IT you are MINE….

Morning angel…

I’m nobody who are you? Are you nobody too? Well there’s a pair of us, don’t tell…

Phone away. NOW the day can start.

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Nightmare

When I was a kid, I used to have this recurring dream that, at the time, scared me more than anything. I had the dream so often that I stopped disturbing my parents when I entered their room for comfort and would just stand alone in the dark, listening to the pair of them breathe, shivering in the cool air until I was calm enough to return to my own bed and the warmth of my blankets.

In the nightmare, I was alone in what I can only describe as a vast endless bayou or swamp. There was dark water all around me, murky, sweating into the air, humid and fetid, heavy. There were marshland trees far away, their roots coming out of the mud and into the water. Their branches were surely draped with grey moss.

I stood on a muddy sandbar of sorts out in the open: a protrusion of soft, wet, mushy ground that oozed under my bare feet. I was dressed in a yellow bathing suit, cut simply and polka dotted in white, a child’s boxy one-piece. I was not muddy when I dreamed this as a child, except for my feet. There were other protrusions like the one I stood on all across the water, not a far swim and they probably stretched to the shore, but there were gators in the swamp, under the surface, invisible to me but a danger nonetheless. I was trapped and frightened and clammy on my muddy little pedestal.

The worst part was the speedboat. It was red and so far off that I would always hear it before I saw it. Tiny and fast, zipping about, close to the trees along the shoreline. I knew it would save me if I could just get its attention. But I never could.

Eventually, I would decide to get in the water and swim from sand(mud)bar to sandbar and this is where the dream varied.

Sometimes I would wake just as soon as the massive reptilian jaws rose from the water before me, too close to paddle backwards away from. Sometimes hands or claws would wrap around my feet or ankles from under the murk. Sometimes the water was shallow and sludgy and I would begin to trudge across the ground before inevitable piercing my feet on hidden harpoons jutting from the mire.

A few times the speedboat turned just as I reached the midpoint between two perches and ran me down. Once I grew heavier with each kick or pull with an arm until I could no longer tread water and I sank beneath the surface. I’m sure there were more variations on how I met my doom but there was never a time I survived.

I had that nightmare from before I was in school, so approximately the age of 4 all the way up until I was about 16 years old. It recurred most frequently when I was a very young child, but I did have it at least twice in junior high and once in high school. My senior year of high school, I sketched the scene for an AP Psychology project and I still have the sketch somewhere.

There’s a certain significance placed on recurring dreams, particularly nightmares. They’re supposed to reflect the inner workings of your subconscious and are supposed to reveal hidden fears. I wonder what I could possibly have been afraid of, or convinced of, or so subconsciously fixated on as a child of four that I then gradually let go of over time.

Was it symbolic of my growth? My fear of being mired in the stresses of adulthood? Once I reached high school I no longer feared the adult world?

That doesn’t quite fit. I stayed pretty sheltered until I was at least 18.

Did I feel trapped?

That doesn’t fit either, as the only thing I’ve ever really felt trapped by during that period was the expectations of others and that didn’t kick in until I was at least 8 and by then the dream was less frequent.

Is it something else? Something I’ve missed? Has the nightmare really ended? Or is it lurking there beneath the placid surface of my current dream pool, like some scaled, jagged toothed reptile, waiting for me to paddle back into its jaws. Will I find myself in that swamp once more, a grown woman, breasts pressed high and hips squeezed by the now ill-fitting swim costume? Will the harpoons pierce the monarch butterfly tattoo on my foot? Will my flesh still be sweet to the gator’s tongue?

Have I perhaps grown too bitter to eat? Am I too wise to slink into the water willingly? Might I now devise a way to flag down the boat?

Is the nightmare even so awful now?

I think perhaps its become some sort of bittersweet dream. If I could slip back into it I might reclaim that effortless suspension of disbelief and in being trapped once more in a distant swamp, find myself free of the mundane bonds of my adult mind..

It’s the mosquitoes I should worry about.

Dehydration.

Starvation.

Who’s driving that boat and do I really want to flag them down, especially in the tiny yellow swim suit?

There are a thousand worse dangers than murky waters and alligators.

So perhaps the nightmare isn’t quite a nightmare after all.

 

{Written in response to The Daily Post’s Nightmare Prompt}