Meanwhile, In New York?

Meanwhile, In New York?

I was wrapped up in something. Wrapped up really tight but not uncomfortably so. I could barely think. I had blacked out and then not really – I felt my mind sort of slip away and away and away, but it never really left me. Like a road slipping away under an automobile, maybe, now that I think about it: just unraveling in back of me while still attached, and as it did that, I marveled that I could have so much consciousness, that I could be so much in my own mind, so much to keep spooling out like that. I thought of my mind then like a fishing line just going out and out and out, my imaginations and thinkings and emotions just spooling away. What was attached to the other end of it, I wondered? What was it clinging to, or what was pulling it away from me while I stayed here?

I couldn’t breath very easily but that didn’t bother me so much, either. Nothing bothered me so much. For example, I saw sometimes a vision of Naked Girl clinging to a giant thumb as it pulled first through rocks and dirt and then through nothingness and then through more nothingness but a different kind of it. The first nothingness had been a soupy mixture of colors and what I’d swear were thoughts. Have you ever seen a thought? I have, now, I think, because I saw them in that vision, right then. Thoughts look a lot like birds, only they look more like butterflies, I guess, or maybe like hedgehogs. I didn’t know then what hedgehogs looked like but remembering back now, I’m pretty sure that thoughts looked exactly like hedgehogs except for when they looked like bricks. Just like colored bricks, red and yellow and green and sandy and solid at the same time, thoughts were, like crystal balls.

Well, anyway, I saw thoughts. You try to describe them when you see them. You’ll probably eventually be able to, just like I did. I can do it a lot now and each time I see them I don’t know how to describe them. I wish they stayed looking like hedgehogs. Those are cute.

The second layer of nothingness was scarier because it really was nothing. Nothing nothing nothing just… void. That’s what I’m supposed to call it, I know, now, but I didn’t then. I wasn’t scared then, either, maybe because the part of my mind that was supposed to be scared had already reeled out behind me and now was gone. I hoped I could pull it back in but I didn’t know where to pull it back in to because the part of me that should hold it I guess was gone, too.

Then there was more thought-soup and I could see Naked Girl again but she looked cold and blue and she shivered a lot, not shivering like cold but shivering like the image on the telescreen sometimes blurs when it doesn’t quite synch up – vibrating, almost.

I tried to focus but I couldn’t so I just enjoyed the comfortable feeling of being kind-of-pleasantly-smushed by whatever was doing the smushing but then I got uncomfortable because I didn’t know where Naked Girl had gone and I was surrounded by sounds that I couldn’t identify. It was strange – stranger, maybe, than everything else that had happened to me. Or not. It was as equally strange as everything else that had happened to me, since I started walking out of that diner. The only normal things that had happened to me were those few days with Brigitte when I listened to Reverend Tommy talking and began to gather that I might be what he was talking about and wondered if Brigitte would still love me if I was what Reverend Tommy was talking about, wondered if I could make her more like me…

… why was I thinking about that now? I got scared a little then and began to struggle against the smushing because it felt like my memories of Brigitte were unspooling and I didn’t want to lose those.

Did I?

It was strange because I couldn’t gather my thoughts and I was still smushed feeling but the nothingness and the nothing-thought-soup were all gone. I was in a room. I realized I was in the diner. There were people walking around, people sitting a the diner tables, a grill with things cooking on them. Other waitresses. Outside the window was a city street, filled with city-daylight, the kind of daylight that is had when sunlight never reaches the ground directly, when all the light that hits the ground has been reflected and reflected and reflected, over and over again. I watched the scene in the diner as I tried to keep what little was left of my memories from unspooling out of me, tried to hold onto the part where I met Brigitte because I didn’t want to forget that.

Did I?

I looked around the diner and tried to remember why I might not want to remember meeting Brigitte but I was confused. The people in the diner were eating their breakfasts and talking. The forks and knives and spoons were touching the plates. Doors were opening, Horses and walkers were going by outside. The grill was smoking and sizzling. When I turned my head I could see a large guy, kind of fat, really, but fat in that really big way that lets you know that there’s fat, then muscle, then more fat underneath that and that the muscle is really strong, has to be to move all that fat. The big guy, the man, was punching buttons on the cash register and people were waving their hands and it was blinking and then someone set down a stack of plates.

But the sound wasn’t right.

Did I want to forget Brigitte? I didn’t know.

I saw a flash of Naked Girl clinging to a thumb.

The sound in the diner was all off. I looked at one guy, a guy that was wearing something kind of fancy, a little too fancy for this diner, a suit of some kind. He was reading off a Read-Or, or watching the Read-Or, I guess, because there were no words on it. I was, I realized, approaching him, and I looked down at my feet, which were not bare at all. Hadn’t I been barefooted? I had shoes on now, sneakers. They were velcroed shut and there was, I realized, blood on them and I almost screamed but I couldn’t, quite, and also I realized more that it was just ketchup, because I looked and I was carrying a bottle of ketchup, carrying it, it seems, to the man in the suit with the Read-Or held in his right hand as he sat at the table, pushing eggs around with a piece of toast in his right hand but not eating it.

On the Read-Or unit, a face was talking, or at least the mouth was moving. I heard everything through a muzzy haze, the same sounds I’d hear when Brigitte would be messing with me and I’d pull a pillow over my head—the sounds coming from me but muffled before being bounced back to my ears, woozy moans.

Did I miss Brigitte?

The sound on the Read-Or unit was like that, but it didn’t match up. As the Read-Or face’s lips moved, I didn’t hear words. I heard screeching, like metal doors being pushed open and shut, or metal on metal, at least.

I held out the ketchup to the man. I felt my lips move. I meant to say something like here’s your ketchup and I wondered how I knew to bring it to him. Dreams sure are weird. I tried to remember why I’d brought it to him. Did I want to remember that? No. I didn’t care about that at all. What did I want to remember? Brigitte? I don’t know.

But instead of saying here’s your ketchup, I heard my voice, all pillow-muffled, say “It might get easier as time goes on.”

I stopped. I was confused. But the man in the suit, watching the screeching-metal head on the Read-Or, didn’t seem bothered in the slightest. He smiled and held out his hand and his mouth made movements. As he did, he said:

“How did you even discover they could do this?”

I stepped back, having handed the ketchup to the man. Before I could turn, I saw him unscrew the lid of the ketchup and turn the bottle upside down. He hit it with his hand, over and over, trying to slap the ketchup out. But instead of hand-slapping-glass, each time he hit it the sound was someone talking:







Then the ketchup came out and the man poured it on. I finished turning around even though I wanted to hear what the ketchup bottle had to say. I saw that the man at the cash register, the big guy, was looking at me funny. He opened his mouth to say something but his mouth, again, didn’t match up with what he said. His mouth seemed to be saying Rachel come over here but I didn’t follow that because the words I heard him say were

“I think she’s waking up, that’s why. Secure her.”

I remembered waking up and I didn’t want to lose the waking up feeling and I tried to run out of the diner again, tried to throw down the tray I was carrying in my left hand, and tried to run but my sneakers wouldn’t move and I just clung to the thought I don’t want to forget waking up.

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