Saturday, 6 June 2020

'Follow It Down' by Kathryn Kulpa

He only likes me in the dark. At night, when we turn to each other because, finally, there’s no one else to turn to. For a little while, he won’t have to tell me what’s wrong with me, and I won’t have to listen.

He always falls asleep before I do. I bury my face in sheets soft with washing. I smell detergent, think about soapsuds swirling through warm water, try to follow that spiral down to sleep. But I don’t.

It’s April now. Still cold, but wet and melting. I hear the spring peepers outside, picture the stream that runs by the roadside, try to follow it down to the bay, to dream country. But I can’t.

I hear him breathing, matted and milk-drunk. If a careless knee brushes mine, I imagine I’m standing next to a stranger on a subway. Some impossible, anonymous city. I can almost hear the scratch of charcoal on paper as I draw him in my mind: my stranger’s face. Sometimes then, when the sky lightens and the frogs fade, I can fall asleep. My dreams are vivid in a way real life isn’t any longer, and something’s always chasing me—zombies, a man with a knife—through places I haven’t seen in years. The shopping mall I haunted in high school, a parking garage from my old work. I dodge and fade into the anonymity of crowds.

There are ways, I’ve read, to direct your dreaming. Each night I tell myself: Don’t run. Let the monsters catch you. Fight or die.

But the body does what it does. I wake every morning, sentenced to the real world.



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