Dreamscapes

Visit dublit.com to hear Kevin reading an excerpt from his novel “I Am a Figment of Your Imagination” called “Dreamscapes.”  The reading was a part of Lindsey Wolkin’s “Image and Text” event.

Dreamscapes

Awake.  Fall awake like trapdoor victims.  From earth-toned dream worlds ticking clocks, gasp awake into slate penumbra of spartan room.  Sunrise shadows cast blue through fog, windows, curtains.  Breathe deep, sunny cuddle of fresh linens.  Roll away beneath blankets, heavy-woven with lead and yawn.  Eyes plat shut, slabs of clay fallen from heights upon potter’s table.

Clocks thickly ticking, faces melting roman numeral drips. What reverie, swarmed by timepieces atop high desert plain?

Her last bit of waking chastises herself for such daguerreotype Dali-scapes.

Wind gusts, clears ticking haze to reveal wide valley below.  Diseased alluvial basin, dry and crackled skeleton plain.  Empty riverbeds branch away and away and away into nothingness, infinite fingers of some alien hand.  Winds hum dirges.

Clouds gather red-black ahead, high above cusp of fan, where barren channels start fractal splitting.  Or?  Where tributaries find convergence?  In dry places of sleep and insinuation, telling fails.

Infant child, babe of glass, there in arms, quiet.  Shivering ants march thousands down arms.  Hold tight to baby in arms.  Sing lullabies:

“Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall,

Ninety-nine bottles of beer,

Take one down, pass it around…”

Clouds rumble mnemonic menace, burst forth erubescent deluge.  Blood spatters across dusty plain, thicker drops than melting clocks.  Glass breaking, glittering cry, and shattered baby—myriad floating crystals—falling up and up into red downpour with it we are falling, falling up again into wakefulness.

Lucy sits up and tosses the heavy quilt aside.  Her hand is at her groin—even through her underwear she can feel it starting.  That dark and sunken shape in her mind from the night before—it rises to the surface and dissipates like vapor, leaving behind a wash of relief, and a hole in the shape of a child.

She hops out of bed and skips into the bathroom, thanking god for her period.  The bathroom tiles shiver glee up her damn beautiful legs and she plops down on the toilet and urinates out the first bright red globules of blood.

Often I take these mornings to revel in my love—remembering the times when my hands graced her curves and folds and her flesh quivered beneath my touch.  But today, I don’t know.  There’s a vacancy carved in me and I feel it most when I look at her.  A cavernous longing.

I float away from the drone of her piss hollowing the toilet water.  Her bathroom’s yellowed wallpaper is waterlogged from shower steam and is starting to warp at its seams and shrug in its corners.  The grout between the floor tiles is black with mildew.  All of the in-between spaces are infected or dying, and here I am, trapped in my own in-between space, watching the only person who makes me feel like I’m anything at all.

She’s still gloating, wiping herself with a fold of toilet paper.  The ink-stain on her hand flashes between her thighs and she thinks of the drinks last night.  Her chest shivers with guilt and hindsight.

My imaginary stomach flips.  Would it be so bad to have our child?  An abortion would be preferable?  Is that with any baby, or is it just mine you don’t want?  No, no, it’s Casper’s you don’t want.  Yes, that must be it.  If it were just me in the picture, well we’d be married with two-point-five and a picket fence by now.  But as usual, Casper is the one to go fucking up the mix again.

In her shower, the faucet knob is reversed.  It turns left for cold and right for hot.  Lucy turns the knob to the left and waits for the hot water with her hand under the gurgling spray—she’s become so accustomed to the faucet’s backwards quirk that when she reminds herself, “the faucet runs backwards,” she actually makes a second compensating flip and runs it “normally,” thinking that “normal” is “wrong” and “wrong” is “normal.”

Lucy thinks this is the story of her life, but I have no idea what she means by it.

She turns the faucet all the way right and the water steams.  She always forgets to tell her guests about the shower’s quirk.  Sometimes they ask, and sometimes they just take cold showers.  Casper, the morning after Halloween, he never asked about it, but the mirrors were fogged up good.  She guesses he figured it out on his own.  Perhaps his shower runs backwards too.

She steps into the shower and the memories pour down over her like water from a scalding kettle.  Casper snakes through her mind, intertwining with Jeff’s hazy, soft-focus dimples.  Jeff’s adoring eyes and sweetly pathetic one-liners.  Casper always said just the right thing, even in those moments when she didn’t know herself what the depths of her mind were hoping to hear.  Jeff’s tongue probing her mouth meekly during that farewell kiss while her eyes stayed locked on Casper, dark and skulking in his shadows.  Casper.  He is suddenly everywhere, plastering the walls of her mind like the swollen bathroom wallpaper.  Casper on Halloween, wild and rabid, his tongue lapping at her navel and all the parts below; Casper drunk and murmuring declarations of love in a voice that didn’t seem his own, pumping away inside of her; Casper fetal and sobbing as he rolled away from her, his come cooling in a pool on her belly.  Casper, the schizophrenic outcast, somehow still haunted by the memory of a brother he never even knew.

Lucy studies the diluted trickle of blood sliding down her leg.  The space where my stomach would be writhes as I watch the trickle swirl the drain.  Lucy turns the faucet all the way back to the left and the water goes frigid.  She turns a quick circle under the icicle claws and slams the knob in.  In the stillness she’s left shivering and gasping for air.

When Lucy was a child she believed in ghosts.  She believed in magic and unicorns and faeries and the world was brighter somehow and the rain was just god laughing tears of joy.  She believed Casper when he said “we” and would ask “well, what does Paul’x think?”  We’d offer to draw her a picture and she’d ask for two, one from him and one from me.  Her chest shivers with more guilt and hindsight.  She thinks she encouraged him, facilitated his madness.  But the truth is, she was the only one who ever believed in me.  I burrow deeper into her mind and pull up those old, hidden memories— back when we were kids, and she believed it really was the two of us sharing one body.

I make her remember:  When we were twelve we climbed that tall black-oak, but Casper got scared.  She called out to me from her perch up there atop the highest branch “Paulie, make him climb!  You guys can do it together!”  The wind rustled and shook the tree and I never knew it until now but she was scared up there by herself.  Looking out across a dry summer valley at the ocean crashing whitecaps ‘til the horizon, and the sound of birds and rustling leaves in her ear, and the smell of dead moss and lichen in her nose, the metallic taste of fear rose in her throat—not of the heights or the shaking branch, but of being up there all alone.  Un-companioned.  The solitary girl in the solitary tree.  “C’mon Paulie!” she called down again.  “I know you can do it!”

And I could.  And I did.  Casper huddled in the corner of our mind and I took control of both sides of the body and up and up I climbed until there I was at the top with her with the breeze and the birds and the ocean at the horizon.  And in her memory the fear washed away like driftwood as soon as I was there—we both remember how she threw her arms around my neck and we teetered in our high-branched perch and almost fell.  Lucy moved her hands to grab the branch between our legs and in her haste touched the young erection taught in my pants.

She said nothing, only widened her eyes and left her hand frozen on my lap.

“Do you… want to see it?”  I offered meekly.

A tiny smile pursed her mouth but then another gust of wind shook the tree and we teetered again and Lucy finally moved her hand down to the actual branch between my legs and cackled laughter and cheered “Hold on!  This one’s a doozy!”  And we sat in the tree with the wind blustering us about, laughing together and holding on for dear life while Casper hid in his corner.  It was our moment, just her and me.

 

Copyright © 2009, Kevin Hobson

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