2.8.2015 Journal Prompt

Photo by Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Photo by Manuel Alvarez Bravo

February 8, 2015: If you listen…

5 Replies to “2.8.2015 Journal Prompt”

  1. If you listen, my da said, really listen, sharp as pins or needles, then you can hear where they are. That was when we was hunting for grasshoppers and I was small enough and only as tall as my da’s belly button. We was creeping through grass, on tip-toe steps, not making a sound, ‘cept I was not so good as my da and that grass was almost as high as trees to me. And I could hear all around me the dry burr call of the male grasshopper. Da said they rub their legs to make the sound. But then, soon as I got near enough to pluck one off its grass perch, it was leaping away from me. I got bored in no time, and I stopped and I just stood in my own world, which was a world in my head.

    Da said I was a dreamer and he laughed and he rubbed my hair and he said it was ok. He said mam was a dreamer, too, and I was just like her and he was right. I saw mam sometimes, her hands up to the elbow in soapy water or bread flour and she was just paused, like a film when it’s stuck on one picture, and though the radio was on in the kitchen, mam could hear no song playing. I sometimes crept to beside her and I held onto her dress, folding myself inside, just in case more than her thoughts went into the world she was dreaming of.

    That was how it was growing up, growing past my da’s belly button and past his shoulders and his head. Not so big as da can’t still take his hand to me if I cross him, but big all the same. Growing past mam who was herself growing smaller. But never growing past my dreams, not completely.

    And being like that is how I knew when I saw her. Her name’s Chrissie and she’s pretty in that way that girls can be when they don’t quite fit into their own clothes, when they’re all angles and eyes and smiles. Awkward she looked, and pretty at the same time, and Chrissie was a dreamer.

    I see her some days, most days, just standing, leaning against the railings or against a wall, and she’s lost to what is going on in this world. Sometimes, I just creep up near to her, creeping soft as grasshopper hunting and on the same tip-toe steps, quiet as my da was back then. Close enough I can hear the lightness in her breath, close enough I can almost hear the soft burr of her dreaming. And I just stand there listening, wanting to hear a spilled word from her lips and that word a name and that name my own so as I’d know she was dreaming of me.

    Then, of a sudden, and yet not so fast as sudden usually is, Chrissie is back and you can see it in the way that her body adjusts to where she is and it takes a moment. Then she sees me, and she smiles, and she asks if I am ok.

    ‘Been dreaming?’ I say.

    She nods, and she looks briefly guilty and she looks all around in case there’s more than me knows she;s been dreaming. When she looks back at me it is as though we have a secret together, or a part of a secret for she never does tell me what she’s been dreaming and like that she is just the same as mam whenever I asked her.

    Then Chrissie runs away, or flies, like grasshoppers flew from the boy that I once was. And I move into the space Chrissie has been in, feeling the warmth in the stone or metal that she has left behind, and I breathe deep, trying to catch what is left of Chrissie’s dreaming in the air and only ever stepping into my own dreams and even they have holes in ’em now.

      1. Thanks for reading yet again, Patty. I have no problem with you adding this to the Friday list. Indeed, as before, I am thrilled that you want to keep doing this.

  2. You don’t have to be asleep to be dreaming. That’s what I was told. You can be awake and standing on your own two feet and all the world rushing by and you can be dreaming. And I’ve seen that sometimes; people just stopped where they are and they are briefly not in this world but somewhere else.

    Then, when I was studying philosophy, which I know is no use to no one like my dad said, well, I heard about how all of this world could be no more than a dream, a thought in the head of god the creator, and there’s just no way to prove that it ain’t. ‘Course it’s easy now not to believe in no god, and I don’t, but there ain’t no way of proving that my thinking that isn’t just another thought in the creator’s thinking.

    That’s when my dad said philosophy wasn’t worth shit to no one, not if it just fucks up your thinking when before it was clear enough. Dad don’t believe in god neither, but for him there ain’t no difficulty in that. He says we is all stardust and at the end we is just dust again and who knows but one day we’ll all be stars once more.

    Dad’s into cosmology, he says, and that’s shit, too. He reads newspaper headlines about the big bang and how the universe is running away from us, and all of that sort of fits with his plain thinking. But when I start in with talk of parallel universes and alternative realities, well, then he thinks I’m being philosophical again and he says I’m talking through a hole in my fucking head.

    And there’s this girl I know, Libby, and she’s important to me and she listens to what I tell her. And when I said to her about universes next to this one, she said of course, and she said that was what dreaming must be. Like dipping your toe in water and feeling how different it is from air.

    Libby’s a dreamer, you see, and not just when she’s asleep. I catch her sometimes and she’s sitting on a chair looking into nowhere. Or she’s standing in the street and she’s stopped, and it’s as if she’s holding a pose and holding her breath also. And seeing her like that I know she is dreaming. If I’m beside her I wait till she’s done and then I ask her what it was this time.

    It takes a minute for Libby to gather her thoughts, then she says something about me and something about being in another place and everything’s different there, as different as it can be, and yet still we are together. Libby says it’s proof, if proof were needed, that we are meant to be. Like god intended us, she says, and not in this world but in all worlds. It’s cute when she says it, but cute is all it is.

    I don’t tell Libby that as good as it is with her, there’s this other girl in my world, in this world. Libby’s important and I would never want to hurt her, but there’s also Kate, and some days I think I’m meant to be with Kate rather than Libby. It’s a thought in my head at least, a muddled thought; or it could be a thought in god’s head, and maybe my dad’s right and all this thinking just fucks things up.

    I don’t dream like Libby does. I wish that I did. I wish that I had a glimpse of somewhere other than here and now, and I wonder if there’s a universe next to this one where Libby and me aren’t together and it’s just me and Kate and no one is hurt or any the wiser for it.

    Kate doesn’t dream. Not even when she’s asleep, not though I watch her some nights, and I can see her eyes flickering in the lamplight. When she wakes, she wakes pretty and she says again that she doesn’t dream when she sleeps, so maybe she and I belong together only in this world and that would be ok, ‘cept for Libby. I just don’t know.

  3. It must always have been so, I think, that girls on balconies lean with their hands on their cheeks and awake and dreaming. Didn’t Shakespeare’s young Juliet do so much and she was dreaming of the forward boy she’d just danced with and that boy was Romeo. And now my Juno does the same, stands with her hand to her cheek and she is lost in dreaming.

    Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright, which is to say she is more beautiful than the moon or the stars, which is the jist of what Romeo was saying when he saw Juliet just so on her balcony. And I think girls lost in dreaming or sleep are more pretty than is good for beast or man and out of reach also. And Juno, pretty enough most days, is prettier still when she is on her balcony and dreaming and my heart aches to see her.

    And that hand upon her cheek, and I held it once in mine, and being but a new pilgrim in love I didn’t know then what I had. And now I’d give anything for a touch of that hand or my hand to her cheek. And I want to call up to Juno and tell her as much. But that’s just romantic shit, and I blame Shakespeare and his bookish friends for that. Or movies I blame also, movies with their broken and shiny bits of love and nothing like life really is.

    Juno, two years younger than me, and she’s just a girl, and I dared to kiss her once. Let lips do what hands do, they pray grant thou. It was her birthday I remember and she was fourteen and I made a small gift to her of a silver bracelet hung with silver charms. And in exchange I asked for a kiss and I reminded her that she was fourteen and a big girl now and so I thought a big girl kiss was what was required.

    It was nothing to her, I think, and it was everything to me. I play it over and over when she is not near and I lick my lips and taste again that kiss. And I wonder if it has always been so that boys dream also, not on balconies perhaps, but hidden in the dark places and under the cover of night, and all our impatient boyish thoughts leaping ahead of where we are. And I wonder what it would be to watch Juno sleeping and dreaming and if she could be prettier still than she is today. And that one thought is a pain sharp as pins or knives.

    And I close my eyes and I see her then in her bed, in the bed I imagine for her, which is Juliet’s bed from the film, all cloud-white cloth and drapery, and I peel back the sheets just to look at her curled into sleep, and like that the world would be enough and more than enough. No, I lie, it would not quite be enough, for I would want to know what it was she was dreaming, just as I do now watching her on her balcony.

    And I would wish by the inconstant moon (which is not for swearing by) and all the crossed stars, that Juno was dreaming of me.

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