Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On Waking Up Alone

Kettle – 394

Sarah Van Name

In the dream, I was in a house with a vase of yellow flowers. I was expecting you to walk in dripping at any moment – after every lightning flash, I thought you might be there as sudden as a thunderclap. But the noise came and you did not, and I put the kettle on. My throat was starting to feel sore, as if I had shouted too much and regretted it, and I was making myself tea with honey like my mother used to.

At a burst of thunder that shook the house, I half awakened. I dreamed, again and again, of turning over in the bed and reaching out to move closer to you. But I couldn’t make my body move, and I dreamed it, over and over, believing each time that it was real until the covers became mazes that I wandered through and forgot the house with yellow flowers where you were expected home.

For minutes, maybe hours, I dreamed of turning over. Like a well-loved record, the same chords and static wails, played every hour in a department store.

After minutes, maybe hours, I dragged my consciousness out of the quicksand and opened my eyes. The black of my room was distinct from the black of sleep, and I caught the light filtering from the alarm clock. Lightning, and thunder close after.

I turned over. You were not there.

I looked at my phone: 4:17, no new messages.

I thought maybe I could work my way back into dreams and find you, warm and whole, but red shapes coalesced behind my eyes and I could only understand the loneliness of the storm and the night and my bed. I slipped in and out, tangled up in my covers like fishing nets.

I swore I felt your leg brush my hip once, I swore I heard the blankets shifting. I turned over, fully awake. You were not there. Only the loneliness and the blue shriek of the lightning.

Then, out of nowhere, a fit of rage rose up unbidden, like the anger that used to grip me in tantrums as a small child. I thrashed in my bed, kicked the mattress in fury, bit down hard on my arm, dragged my nails fast up my thigh.

The moment passed, and, afraid of myself, I began to cry quietly in the dark.

Sorrow - the National

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