by Kayleigh McKay




        Go back to sleep.  Sink back down to the place where everything passes you by.  Regress; it’s like crawling back into the womb.  Under blankets it’s a warm, safe place.  Infinitely comfortable, a different planet.  You can shut the door on your failures and they cannot claw you when you’re asleep.


        I hate the sound of chewing gum, and the wind and the rain are too cold.  Raindrops dash against the window pane and explode on impact.  It’s not loud enough to drown out the gum-noise, though.  It’s the squishing, I think, that gets me.


        What’s the reason, what’s the reason?  Why do I feel this way?

I know “why”—but the world is still gray.  Clouds are thick and rolling in, the winds are from the west, I think.  Strong winds, blowing the shells of the leaves around, skimming the tops of the puddles, clogging the storm drains.

        I should be happy, but I guess I’m not better.  The summer experiment has failed—I can’t be without the pills, whatever chemicals are in them.


        I had a dream the other night that I was floating in a river.

        But I think Ophelia is overrated.

        She’s not dead, this woman, there is harp music, and the woman’s hair is the longest and most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

        She and I—because she is me—float all the way back to where the river begins.  Up inclines, up small waterfalls, underneath strands of leaves hanging down from the bank.  The water is perfectly clear.  We go all the way back to the source.

        Then the world reverses itself, and we, high up on the steep mountain rocks, flow back with it.

        Her hair is brown, and her dress is rainbow.  Downstream we go, back, back, back, to where we started.

        Freud would say I’m a lesbian, or in love with my mother, or suicidal, but he’s even more overrated than Ophelia.  I wonder what he found when he turned his lustful eyes inside his own head.

        Someone should’ve put him on my regime.  Serotonin and caffeine would fix him up—no more Oedipus Rex.


        I’ve never loved sweaters so much—sadness makes me cold.  I need distractions for myself.  Spend your money on things you don’t need—too much food, too many calories.  Cheerios are expensive here.



Should I be happy?  My Grampy died little over a month ago.  He’s been ashes for a month now; my favorite month of the year—October.  I don’t cry often, but sometimes, only sometimes.



        Going to sleep in the middle of the day—taking a nap is a denial of the rest of the world.  It’s perhaps the only measure of control there is, deciding that, for an hour, you won’t have anything to do with anything at all.

        Have another coffee before you fall asleep.

        Maybe one day you’ll have a daughter to stand over your fallen body because you were too stubborn to use a wheelchair.  Maybe she’ll be there when a nurse pulls breathing tubes out your throat.  Maybe you would have woken up if not for the hospital’s drugs.  Maybe there’s no such thing as a brain.


        Nature is slowing down—apple cores take longer to disappear on the sidewalk.  An unidentifiable cat-skunk-rabbit skulks in the corner between two walls.  It hides behind bushes and no one can pinpoint with any satisfaction what it is.  Dead leaves coat the world, and it’s too cold outside and too hot inside.

        What’s that mix of snow and rain that makes me want to stay in bed all day?  Something freezing, hard enough to sting your face, but not hard enough to bounce off after impact—it’ll stick there, like the memory of eating something too caloric, and sting you until you wipe it away.


        It’s oppressive, having always to have something—don’t forget your medication.  Punished for forgetfulness, or a laziness that prevents you from walking back to your own dorm building in the middle of the night.  If you forget them, your mood will pay for it the next day.

        Something inside is lacking, a chemical imbalance that turns the entire world upside down.  A cataract of ugliness that reaches its dull, gray tentacles into everything.  A fog on the window that blurs all the things you see.  The shock wave that rippled out from the moment his head struck the table, with ricochets running throughout my life.   

Why do people ask “what’s the point”?  What arrogance!  Does there have to be a point?  Who are you that the world should explain itself?


        Is it abnormal, then, to hold your Grampy’s bloated, unfeeling hand?  When it feels too heavy, and the fingers are too thick—like too much meat inside a sausage casing?  Not to recognize him until the nurse peels back an eyelid?  What about buying that expensive coat you don’t need?  Or wanting that sixty-dollar fountain pen?

        Run, for God’s sake, run.


        The Earth is spinning slower—but they’re playing Christmas carols at the mall.

        Thanksgiving is being absorbed by Christmas like how a black hole devours a planet, a galaxy, people’s lives, and an ancient tradition.  The harvest festival is being eaten alive by the fat, leering Santas in the displays of Rite Aid and Target.

        Christmas Eve and Black Friday are terrifying.  They turn shopping malls into war zones, full of zombified sale-seeking hordes that trample each other at the gates of Wal-Mart.

        I never leave my house those days.  I’m too sick of everyone those days.

        The fifty-thousandth cover of Jingle Bell Rock echoes soullessly inside my head.

        Once more unto the breach.


Coffee floods my insides and now I feel better.  There are more colors in my room now—I see what’s left of the sunshine, the blues and purples and bizarre stains on my sheets.  Soy sauce from last year?  Salad dressing?  Semen?



        I’m an ungrateful little shit.  Yes, Grampy died, but he was an old man, and everything else in my world is good.  I’ve fallen in love, bought pretty things, seen good films—that’s not enough?


        But it can be fixed—this problem.  This fight for my job and the place I love.  It’s a tiny place high in the sky where the world is jazz music, good coffee and melting chocolate.  The fourteenth floor is a home of mine, and it has to stay.  This administrative failure—I won’t have it.

        This is a loss I can prevent.  I can try, at least.  I can be a warmonger, but I can’t be a neuroscientist who fixes smashed brains, or brings an eighty-nine year old dead man back to life.


        Perception is not a question of right or wrong.  Blindness is no sin.

        So excuse me while I go home.  Home to my nest, my burrow, my bunk-bed that looks like a pirate ship.  Excuse me while I return to the origin place, the world of dreams.  Let me crawl back to where I was born today and start again with a new set of eyes.


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