waking life

It’s a dream, you think, but your eyes are open, it’s Tuesday, the coffee’s burnt. Let’s try this in the second person.

You wake up, “sometimes you just wake up,” like she wrote. Sometimes you stumble to the kitchen and it’s been ten fucking years, still your fingers go cold when they touch countertop, not wood, scarred by your knives and cracking with age, the table came with the apartment and you were so thrilled with two rooms and a closet that you propped up the legs with old books. The closet was low, your dresses dragged on the floor.

You’re not homesick anymore, at least you don’t think you are. That was never going to be your home, not when you were eight and dreaming of away. This was going to be your home, you’re here now, you write, people read it. This was going to be your home, your un-haunted house. You wake up, and still.

Your bike locked onto the porch rail with a titanium U-shaped lock. A good strong kick could have taken out the rail, it was wood and rotted. Nobody kicked, though. Your bike was pink, old, was there in the morning. You rode until your knees ached, clicked when you walked. You splashed through mud and rainwater and leaves stuck to your calves, rode in sandals, once, in high heels, your skirt tucked up into your waistband and the only thing that surprised you was that nobody even looked at you then.

Once, you cut your hair yourself.

This is what happens, this early-morning dissonance. Your eyes are wide open but you see another reality. You know where you live now, know the sunlight in the dining room. You know the tiny kitchen and its open door, know the man in your bed. You know the drive to work, where the cops wait to catch speeders, where to move into the left lane and then back into the right. Your parking space, and how many deep breaths it takes to get you in the door. Seagulls, confused and angry, sit in the parking lot and peck at garbage.

You know this but the alarm goes off and you open your eyes and you see. The cieling in the living room was 13 feet, the cieling in the kichen brushed your head if you stood on your toes. One window, old and rotted, did not open. Drunks passed under it at night, laughing so loud at nothing. You think you are there, the world shifts, you are not. But your fingers feel for the knife drawer anyway, your feet feel the linoleum, not the new tile the loan paid for.

Sometimes in the middle of the night you leave the wide soft bed with the man in it and lie down on the futon, back pressed into the crease where it bends. You sleep deeply. You do not dream.

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