March 9, 2008

"I could make you rue the day, but I could never make you stay."

She slept fitfully. She knew she needed to stop sleeping with the computer next to her, because it was so frequently incorporated into her dreams—dreams that were hard to separate from reality. Did I really email Beth and tell her what time I’d meet her, or did I just dream it? Occasionally she would realize she had missed paying a bill online because she dreamed she had done so and had thus put it completely out of her mind.

Just before waking, she had a vivid dream. In the dream her writing block was ending, and she was eagerly going to her online journal to flush out all sorts of ideas that were spinning through her brain. She felt creative and eager and itching to get the words out. Realizing just how long it had been since her last entry, she scrolled through the words she’d typed on the last several. One of them stopped her cold.

In one entry, she’d spilled out her most cherished, private thought in three little words. Right there for everyone to see. Worst of all: right there for the person who needed to see it least to see.

Oh, Jesus fuck! She panicked. How could I have forgotten I wrote this? It’s been here so long! God knows who all has read it… It was her custom to use all of her powers to encrypt such emotion. How had she allowed such an oversight to occur in the form of blatant, undisguised words?

Urgently she tried to delete them on the off chance that some of the damage could be undone. But suddenly her fingers felt heavy and clumsy and stuck to the keyboard. She couldn’t make them work right, couldn’t punch the right buttons to make the words that gave everything away disappear.

With a start she woke up. She lay for a moment letting the fog clear from her sleep-laden brain and reminded herself over and over that it was just a dream. She hadn’t given anything away. No one had seen those words. Her thoughts were still her own. She treaded unsteadily to the front door to step out and have a look at the world—at this late hour everyone else was well into their day.

Stepping down onto the cold concrete with bare feet, she tried to suppress her feelings of guilt for staying in bed so long. I was up late! And already in a sleep deficit! She considered the things she might try to get done today that might assuage the guilt. Otherwise she was feeling pretty good; maybe being somewhat productive would help harness that feeling and make it stay a little longer.

Turning her head to look down the path, she noted that the mail had been delivered. And then she saw it. Knowing what it was immediately, she jumped slightly. Her breath caught, and her pulse quickened. She didn’t know whether to run toward it or away from it. Maybe I should wait until tonight, she thought, or at least just a couple of hours. Instead she let out a deep sigh and, resigned, began to walk toward it.

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