Sleeping In The Shadow Of Morpheous – Part Five
I woke up on another couch, in a house. She was there. She shook my chest and made sure I was awake and ready. She led me outside to the garden, where there were rows of plants; all dead. They had no caretaker. The unstaked tomatoes had fallen over from the weight of their own broken fruits. The birds had pecked to pieces. Their vines had become brittle and hollow with the lack of water. Maggots ate the immature cucumbers and the overgrown squash from the inside out. Strawberries; putrid and brown, decayed as their leaves dwindled and rotted away. Only one plant survived and it stood alone contained by its own pot in the corner of the fence. The blooming seemed sacred; covering the plant with cerulean and goldenrod flowers. I thought Jackie might like them and picked a bouquet and began to head back inside to get them in some water. By the time I had gotten to the door and turned the knob, the flowers were crisp and dehydrated. They shriveled as if they’d aged a thousand years right in my hands. Their vibrant colors dulled in an instant and they began to crumble like a dirt clod. Thinking she did; I turned to her and asked “Did you do that?”
“No. They were supposed to do that. Can’t you see? ” She thought for a moment. “Jackie brought you far from where you were, but you must see it has an end. I don’t want to be mean. She loves you like none you’ve ever met. She will take you even further. She will bring out the best qualities you have. Jackie was a stepping stone to me; I’m your stepping stone to Her.”
I sat down on the patio steps, thoroughly confused. I snapped my fingers and a flame took over my thumb and lit my cigarette. I took a drag and blew out the flame with a sharp exhale. She sat down next to me and laid her head on my shoulder. I passed her the smoldering cigarette.
The cigarette hissed as she pulled. The grey wisps of smoke melded with the black vapors emanating from her cheeks. The gentle breeze whisked them both away to nowhere.
“What’s her name? Can you remember?”
“I can’t remember what I’ve never known. I wish I knew her name.” She sounded sad and frustrated. “It would be so much easier for you to find her if I just knew her name.” A tear streamed down her hazy face.
“Do you know where she is?”
“I told you, I’ve always been here!” she snapped. “I am the part of her that hasn’t existed on your existence. We are parallels, we’re the same but it just doesn’t translate.”
She laid her head back down on my shoulder and sobbed because it wasn’t going to be easy. She couldn’t make it easy.
“I’ll find you. I promise.”
“Find her. She’s waiting. She’s been waiting all her life to meet you.”
I took the final drags off the cigarette as the sun set in the west end of the garden and rose simultaneously in the east.
I woke up on the couch; the sun had been up for what seemed like hours. I got up and began to make breakfast. The iron skillet sat on the coils, not yet red but getting hotter. I pulled the eggs out of the fridge and some onions and bell peppers. The iron skillet would take some time to gain heat, so in the mean time I beat the eggs, and cut the vegetables. A pat of butter in the pan let the aromatics cook through. I turned on the oven to get it ready to bake the frittata once it was thrown together. I threw in the slurry of eggs, and watched them change from a runny liquid to a half congealed solid. I took a pot holder and put the skillet in the hot oven.
I ran the bathroom and peed. As I stood there I saw my reflection in the medicine cabinet mirror out of the corner of my eye. I thought I saw her. I turned to look. I saw myself as she was; another black wispy mess of vapor, red eyed and staring back at myself.
I woke up startled at the dream I’d had. I took in a deep sharp breath as my eyes jolted open. My comforter and sheets were an impossible color. Somewhere between blue and yellow; but definitely not green.
“You ok?” she called out.
“Jackie?” I asked as she stepped out.
“No, it’s just me. You sure you’re ok?” she had a face, a real pink skinned face.
The confusion set in set in again, but it faded when she got into bed with me. “It’s so cold.” she said as she clung to my chest for warmth. She cooed as my skin warmed her body. Her head layed on my shoulders, she was pretty; blonde hair, brown eyes and a smile that could drop you dead. “Remember, look for me. You won’t find me without looking.” She’d found a way to show me who she was.
She reached over to her bedside table and opened a jewelry box. She picked a ring and placed it on my finger. I reached over into my nightstand drawer and found a silver chain with a single laurel leaf charm. I slipped it around her neck, and our eyes locked.
I kissed her
She looked me in the eyes, right into my soul. She looked into who I was. She looked at me with that expression. The one that can say everything that ever could be said without a single word spoken. She shuddered as we connected our bodies. I felt the tiny hairs behind her ears on my lips as I kissed her neck and pushed deeper. She held her hand on the back of my head and ran the other down my back. She held me tighter with every thrust. My hands explored every curve of her body. It was like we’d made love a thousand times before; yet it was like each our first time. “I will never stop searching until I’ve found you.” I whispered in her ear. The passion and emotion grew with each every breath. I held her top lip between mine and she held my bottom lip between hers as we climaxed together.
Her piercing eyes shed tears; they rolled down her face into the crook of her smile.
“Let’s go to sleep.” she said. “I’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
I could see the sun setting between the slats in the blinds.
I woke up. The sun was rising. I stood up and found that I had somehow gotten myself from the couch to the bed. I’d slept on top of the comforter. I went and took my work clothes from the dryer and threw the couch covers on the naked furniture. I didn’t have time to put the cushions back in, I was running late for work. I quickly showered and brushed my teeth. I could see her in my peripherals as I swirled the brush around in my mouth. She was smiling, watching, waiting.
I took out my kit. I looked at my options. I ate a dose with some Benadryl and swallowed it with the leftover beer still sitting on the coffee table. I tied my apron behind my back and headed out the door as I lit my first cigarette of the day.
I got to work and began stocking my station. Chopping tomatoes, slicing cucumbers, and refilling the mixed greens. I walked behind the bar to get a pitcher of beer to make batter for the shrimp appetizers. Jenn, the bartender, was cutting garnishes and trying to watch her kid at the same time. I pulled back the draught spigot and let it mix with the flour. Jen nudged me and pointed across the bar with her paring knife at Jackie, who was training. “You meet Jackie’s replacement yet? She’s cute.”
Jackie was showing the new girl how to use the point of sale system. She tucked her blonde hair behind her ear. She looked up only for a moment with her brown eyes and smiled at me.
first chapter: Sleeping In The Shadow Of Morpheous – Part One
more by JORDAN CLAYTON
photograph by Bruno Marinho