Aliena nobis, nostra plus aliis placent
– Publilius Syrus –
Green children perch on tiptoes to reach the crayon-wax sun, cicada-giggling to the squeak of fog-swing. The crayon is Helios Red, screaming the flesh from the mist; a dawnmoses parting the decrepit grey sea. The sun throws spears at the copper roof of the swaying birdhouse, which sloughs off the projectiles with practiced insouciance. Thus deflected, the cloying rays dance their noisome dance across his prostrate form, tangled in epic battle with restless sheets.
He’s convinced the world is better when viewed through closed eyelids. When you’re just waking up, the distinction between dream and reality is just myopic enough that you receive neither part of either world— a sort of non-existing downtime without the hope of sleep or the burnt toast of morning, and if only for a second we are treated with absolute nothing; of a monumental and somewhat metaphoric silence found elsewhere in the bottoms of brown-ringed coffee cups and the business end of post-coital cigarettes. If only for the briefest of moments we can melt away like the sun the night before, just when it settled into the horizon’s cradle and the clouds like melted butter, spilt blood, and raised bruises reached into his brain and plucked consciousness from the briny deep.
Open your eyes. Don’t move. If you’re like him, the simple act of recognizing your breath is action enough. Your cortex knocks down spiderwebs with a chemical broom.
Slide your legs across the sheets, stretching subtly. You still grasp futilely at the dusty bookends of a dream; the sort you will sometimes remember but never decipher.
Pull open the covers, blink away whatever remains of your functional memory, painful though it may be. Overcome your vertigo as you stand: if you’re dizzy as a lack of blood blots grey in your eyes, then welcome to my world.
Stagger to your bathroom, feet shuffling on the scratchy carpet. The shower, such a hot, moist arena, reminds him too much of the womb, some eternal nine-month sleep. He realizes what a terrible day it was that he emerged.
He always wonders how a baby feels when it comes to the joyous moment; if a naked, shriveled baby honestly gives a good goddamn about the miracle of birth—or if, more likely the only thing an infant wants to do is escape the frigid, raucous, glaring outer world by crawling back into the reactor core and sleeping for æons. Body fluids all tend to be similar: it’s just as easy to dream in a sac of amniotic fluid as it is with a pool of warm blood or hot semen. Sleep waxes violent and sexual and wonderful, but rarely tangible. He supposes that makes it more art than vice.
The closest facsimile of conception is sleep.
By the time he steps out of the shower, he is naked, wet, shivering, and still thoroughly muddled with blur and amnesia. Understand that waking is reliving a trauma. Remember that the day you came into this world was the first day of the rest of your life.
But this isn’t really about you, is it? It’s about him, and while he stumbles around this morning, eyes thick casks of blindness, he begins to realize how little difference it really makes.
Outside, defying coffee cups, the world grinds on, its sky a hot blue industry, its verdure a terrible engine of creation—ceaseless streams of visceral language cascade like similes from the big dumb grin of that idioglottic sun.
He watches the birds, incensed by their chattering song. You can see his full mug, filled with the dark product of his own industry. Silver steam kisses the harshness of his stubble, thrown into a stark curve by the impetus of his scowl.
Watching him stand restlessly at the window, you understand intimately the way he clicks his tongue when he talks; the ratcheting noise of his rubber soles; the phenomenon of his faithless swagger; the way he knows, in some imperceptible way, that you know this about him.
Remember, when you’re just waking up, the distinction between fact and fiction is just amblyopic enough that you receive neither vice of either mode. And as he struggles to grasp some narrative thread on which to hang his day, he finds the lines of his biography have ceded to impressionistic gestures and the foreign tongue of a broken fourth wall.
The copper birdhouse roof still glints petulantly, perhaps representing the insistent demand for precise mapping of elegantly symbolic storytelling to its corresponding semiotic. Conveniently unnamed, he has finished his coffee, chosen his tie—it is paisley, today—cursed the birds, forgotten the abstrusity of last night’s dream, consumed a poached egg and an apricot and a piece of buttered toast; he has done all this without the benefit of language or preface, leaving the epistemological a priori of the world he inhabits a large and imposing question mark in the minds of those nosy, voyeuristic authors and audiences who seek to fetishize the mechanics of his sleeping, waking, percolating, fornicating and querulously wonder after his continued acceptance of the copper-roofed birdhouse outside his window, which is beginning to oxidize anyway and hasn’t been filled in godonlyknows how long. Now, as you watch him climb in his car, you are intimately aware—because you are reading it—that he is filled with doubt involving the nature of the Self-with-a-capital-S, mostly because the god to whom he does not subscribe is an author with a predisposition to sesquipedality and romantic irony. Having dedicated his morning to the pursuit of metafiction, he now leaves, as all characters do, to spend time enjoying the visceral pleasures of acts sadly beyond our discursive limits.
The sun hurls its invective at the oxidizing copper roof of a birdhouse just outside my window, which sloughs off the heat with practiced insouciance. Thus deflected, the maddening rays dance their noisome dance across my prostrate form, tangled in epic battle with restless sheets.
I’m convinced the world is better when viewed through closed eyelids. When you’re just waking up, the distinction between dream and reality is just myopic enough that you receive neither part of either world— a sort of non-existing downtime without the hope of sleep or the burnt toast of morning, and if only for a second we are treated with absolute nothing.