Dreams from Which I Woke Up


     One clear night after too many cups of rum-spiked hot apple cider, my dog and I fall asleep despite the glow from a strand of white lights; she burrows under the covers, where the light can’t reach her, and I pull the comforter over my face. I know the lights will eventually wake me, but the effort to turn them off seems like the greater annoyance.


     I dream that you’re too busy making Instagram art. I don’t mean that you’ve been applying filters like “Perpetua” and “Mayfair.” I mean that you’ve been dedicating days to ensuring all the tiny photo boxes – three for every row – add up to one cumulative collage. Each photo is a selfie but not in the traditional sense: some are your fingernails, moles, and earlobes. The arrangement is starting to look like something. I excuse your absence in the name of art.


     Subsequently I dream that I turn off the lights, but when I wake up, I see them through eyelids crunchy from stale mascara. The only time I don’t remove makeup is when I’ve had too much to drink: I’ve either been drinking with someone and don’t want the day to end, or I’ve been drinking without someone and want the next day to begin. The green strand, with its lights spaced four inches apart, is trying to make 100 points. And I’m not getting any of them.


     As a light sleeper, I can’t understand how I could’ve drifted away under these circumstances. But I love when I sleep through something. Remember that time you and I snoozed through dinner, even with the Chicago newscasters talking about the weather? Remember how I woke up at 11 PM starving like those characters in that Murakami short story? I mentioned the literary connection, that we’re everything but married. I wanted to read you that story and another.


     But I never did. Sometimes I wonder if I love a man because I love him or because I want to create very specific memories with a very specific person. With you, I wanted to ride the jitney bus and walk the High Line and read stories and have a picnic. I was not afraid to do these things alone; in fact, I had done them. But I can only continue having conversations with myself until I can’t.


     I wonder if you know about my list, how the reason I want everything so fast is because I want to check off all the things, so I’ll have them one day. I’ll never mourn the loss of you but only the loss of whatever I’ll never get to do with you. You know?


     It’s that time of night when the bed is a raft keeping me afloat in a stormy sea; I’m holding on for dear life. The lights remain an annoyance, but they’re like stars too, only they’re all equally bright. The worst part is that none will show me the way.



Laryssa Wirstiuk lives in Jersey City, NJ with her miniature dachshund Charlotte Moo. She teaches creative writing and writing for digital media at Rutgers University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Crab Fat, Gargoyle Magazine, East Coast Literary Review, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. You can view all her work here: http://www.laryssawirstiuk.com.



Cover photo: Etringita (https://www.flickr.com/photos/etringita/)