Remember that twitch just moments ago? That hypnagogic jerk happens to you every night. This time your foot got tangled in the sheet. Like a mouse. One that’s being bombarded by Phillip’s pounces. Philip’s claws don’t dig into you anymore; that’s how you know this is a dream. Philip is dead.
If you’ve finally convinced yourself, then what are you doing? Stop lying there. Stand up. Stop them. Don’t you see what they’re doing? They’re trying to kill you!
The curtains are purple. What kind of a hospital would have purple curtains? No kind of a hospital would have purple curtains. Ergo, this is no kind of hospital. At the very least this is not a kind hospital. The bed is potato-stiff and lumpy. Hospitals are known for non-stiff beds.
Go back to the song you shared with Bethy. The song, not the girl. Forget about the girl. Focus on the song. Do not be fooled by tricks of the mind. Thinking is always better than feeling. Is this the punishment? Is this the crime? No one can render your thoughts unappealing.
abab—the rhyme scheme. Anagram for abba, Aramaic for father. Why would your father say goodbye to you? Is he going on a trip? Far away? Again? That’s just fine, then. You did fine last time. You did so fine he had trouble finding you. That was when you got Philip. When you and Bethy first got Philip.
Forget about your family; forget about the girl. You hate her. Hate the girl. Hate the girl.
When did you quit the family business? On your brother’s birthday, right? He swore to never speak to you again. Yet here he is. Of course, this is just a dream. You never can trust family. Not even in your dreams.
And especially not with them. The moment you speak your dream aloud they will crush it. Rattling off statistics, singing the phrase starving artist as they steal your plate of pasta putenesca, reminding you of the family business, legacy, honor, pride, and other virtuous sins. You don’t need that in your life. You have better things to do with your time.
Was that your grandmother who just ran out? Mom probably made her cry again. Good thing you never had to suffer through a mother-in-law. Anagram for woman Hitler.
Remind me, why are you dreaming about your family? You’re not Norman Bates—you actually made something of yourself. You only lived up to a few stereotypes: bachelor pad, illicit drugs, paint stained clothes. But you hated alcohol. And you were overweight; you were the opposite of starving. You don’t need to speak in the past tense—look at your waist right now!
Stop wasting time. The song, the girl, the paintings. They don’t matter. Philip is in danger. No, not in danger. Endanger. Philip is endangering you. Run away. Get up. Get up and run. Get. Up. Run. Go. Run.
Gun? Nobody brings those things into hospitals. Except crazy people who should be there anyway. Look around you. Do you see a gun? Anything that shoots? Do not be fooled by tricks of the mind. Trust your senses and not the analysis. Ignore the commentary. “Approach as if nobody has ever approached before.” Isn’t that how you paint? As if it’s the first painting ever created? The first piece of art. The first thing ever done purely for sake of the aesthetic. Art for art’s sake. People will wonder at how completely and utterly useless the art is. And they will adore you for it. They will go Wilde for you. For it. For in it they see themselves. Totally useless.
Philip is getting closer. See, Philip’s fang is lying on your forearm. Focus. Stop distracting yourself. Bethy doesn’t matter. World peace doesn’t matter. Nothing matters except waking up. Right. Now. Haven’t you heard what everybody is saying? You can hear them. They don’t know that. Show them. Move. Move your goddamn finger!
Thinking is always better than feeling.
You’re feeling tired. These people have overstayed their welcome. Don’t they know you need your sleep? Maybe when they leave you can sleep.
We don’t want sleep. We want wakefulness. Mindfulness. Awareness-ness.
A preacher once told you sleep is for those whom God loves. God loves you. How could He not after all the art you’ve created? After all of His creation you’ve mimicked? Recreation is re-creation. And you’re supposed to be like God. So, create like He did. Like he did: ex nihilo.
It’s the opposite of that. Into nothing, that’s where you’re heading. Toward the event horizon. Toward the singularity. It is the first and the last black hole. It is nothingness, a hole in the universe. But it is also everything. A black hole that has absorbed every particle and wave in existence leaving you as the last bite.
Philip hurt us. Who’s ‘us’? Who else is here?
Philip is gone and so are we. That was it. Our Rubicon. Our point of no return. Is this the punishment? Is this the crime? Our exit off the highway. Our death brought about by you.
If we’re together how can I find you?
Go back to Bethy. Picture her on the couch. Cross-legged and sunburnt. Holding the NES controller.
Where are you?
Your death is my death. Had you known, would you still have done it? You could have moved your finger, but you chose not to.
I’m sorry; I didn’t know.
You didn’t think to ask.
What do we do now?
We sit here and talk, think, and feel for as long as we can.
No one can render your thoughts unappealing.
That sounds like a good plan.
Benjamin S. Bowden is a writer and mathematician from New England currently working as an Operations Manager in New York. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Katie, and their many plants.
Image via Pixabay