Pastoral Genocide


The Only Bad Part about Flying is Landing
September 13, 2008, 6:15 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , ,

She’s telling me about her dream while we’re sitting at the kitchen table. It’s early in the day, not quite light yet. I’m tired and yawn while I hand her a cup of coffee. She’s got a look on her face, a distant and quixotic look. She sighs like she’s been somewhere and, now, she’s glad to be back. She says to me, “It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t breathe; at first, there was everything and then there was nothing and it didn’t matter to me, either way. I’ve never felt anything like it.”

Her recollection of her dream is foggy and inconclusive. It has a non-linear plot and it’s hard to follow. I try, though. I like hearing her dreams. They’re a slice of her, a piece of something meaningful. It’s a personal thing, sharing your dreams. I don’t often remember my dreams. We’ve been married eight years and only recently has she started telling me about where she goes when she falls asleep.

Anyway, she’s saying that it started slowly. Her dream. She was walking to work like she always walks to work. “I didn’t know it was a dream, at first,” she says. “It was bright day, a blue day. It was beautiful and I remember thinking that this was kind of day that makes you feel good to be alive.” I know about those kinds of days so I nod my head.

She continues, “Everything changed, though. I got closer to the shop and the air seemed heavier, like a cold front was moving in. But there was no wind, nothing. The day looked the same but it felt, um, different. And then I noticed that there was no sound, anywhere. It was quiet and I felt so alone. But I wasn’t scared. I was just there and I was walking to the shop, counting my steps.”

She’s been trying to get into shape, lately. So she counts her steps. She told me that she tries to walk seven miles a day and figures that one of her steps is equal to two feet. That way, according to her, one mile is equal to two thousand and ten steps and seven miles is equal to eighteen thousand and four hundred steps. I don’t know how she keeps track of it all. To me, her schematics seem neither worthwhile nor efficient. But that’s how she is. It’s endearing.

So, she’s counting her steps and almost to work when it starts to rain. “It was the weirdest thing, she says. “It was raining but it was sunny and the rain was coming down in big, fat drops. It wasn’t making any sound. Everything was quiet, but I could smell the rain. It was waterlogged and heavy, you know, but it also smelled good. Comfortable, like everything was different but that was okay. And the drops were hitting me but I wasn’t getting wet.”

She says she gets to the shop and unlocks the door, like she does every morning. She steps inside and she notices it smells like coffee. “It smelled fresh and new and it was, you know, a good thing. Like, I’ve always loved the smell of coffee, maybe more than I like to drink it. I think a lot of people are like that. I am.” And I think about it for a second and I agree. She’s right, coffee is about anticipation, about gentle pauses and the logistics of inhalation.

“And then, it everything turned upside down,” she says, her face curdling into a frown. She’s concerned about her dream and even now that she’s awake, it’s following her. “I heard this siren, like a tornado siren. It was close and I could tell the megaphone was circulating. It was loud and then it would sort of slink into the distance and then it would get loud again. I didn’t know what to do so I just stood there. It started to get hot, like really hot and the siren was still going off and from the window I could see that the sky was still distant and blue and I’ve never been so confused before.”

She stops for a second, to take a sip of coffee. She spills some on her shirt and says “goddamnit.” She grabs for a napkin and tries to wipe it off. But her shirt is cotton and the coffee has soaked in. She looks at me and continues onward. She’s talking fast, like she’ll forget it if she doesn’t get everything, absolutely everything, out right away.

“I go outside and then I see a formation of planes flying over my head. They’re dropping things, black specks that look like aspirin pills, out of their bellies and it takes me a minute to realize that these are bombs and they’re dropping them right on top of me, they’re floating down from above. I’m scared, you know. I’m scared that I’m going to die and that these bombs are going to kill me. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do so I run inside and sit under the front desk. I try to remember what we learned when we were in school and we had to practice against the Russians coming and dropping bombs on us. So I grab a thick book and I’m cowering there.”

“Then, I hear a boom and everything shakes. It just like what I expected it would be like. It was so loud and I was scared and all I could think about was those poor people in Iraq and how their lives must be so hard. Everything went fuzzy and white and then I wake up. But I don’t really wake up; it’s just part of the dream. I’m lying in bed and you’re gone. There’s a depression in the sheets but it’s cold and you’re gone and I don’t know where you are. I feel so alone, I want you to be next to me and you aren’t and I don’t know what to do.“

She looks shaken. She’s always been a very beautiful woman. Her face is perfect and there’s not a single thing about it I would change. Right now, it’s draped with a look of childish concern that makes me want to hug her. But I don’t. We just sit there and then she starts talking again.

“I get out of bed and I look for you and I find you in the garage. You’re pouring gasoline into the lawnmower and I try to get your attention. I say ‘John,’ really loudly, but you don’t look up. I walk over to you and I touch you but you don’t notice. All I want is for you to notice me but you don’t. I’m not there but I am and it’s so confusing that I go back into the house and sit on the couch and think about things. I’m trying to make sense of everything but I can’t and suddenly I feel so sleepy. It’s a good sleepy, a comfortable sleepy and I sort of fall into it, you know, start to fade in and out and I feel so warm and happy. But I don’t know why I feel happy, I just do. That’s the last thing I remember.”

And then she gets up. She clears the coffee cups from the table and places them in the sink and goes upstairs. I hear the water turn on and I know that she’s stepping into the shower. I’m still in the kitchen, alone and thinking about her dream.

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1 Comment so far
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this story gave me wood

Comment by barry wood




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