Dream Sequence #35
I am fourteen and I am standing outside the chain-link fence of a playground I never played in as a child. Or did I? The swings are the old-fashioned kind, with a plank for a seat and thick chain ropes, and the ground below is hollowed into a curve that has been worn smooth by feet wanting more.
The jungle gym is made of steel tubing, and the pink and yellow paint is peeling. The metal slide looks treacherous; there is none of the baby plastic, safe and ugly Fisher Price toys of today. These are simple slender brutal bars, you climb them, and you hang on or you fall.
I think I didn’t want to climb them but I was never given the chance not to and then I am in a field of Danish clover, making tiny daisy chains. I am sitting on a hill of green grass with my mother, who is smoking a cigarette, having just given them up.
We are alone, and then no, I am in a room with bearded women, and each long black bushy beard is sculpted, topiary style, into a letter, but most of the letters are J’s. The room is a classroom, and the teacher, a nun, takes great pleasure in throwing chalk ends out of the open windows, she throws her rage, her sexual desires and her suppressed love all out the window, with a flick of her wrist.
I go down to where the chalk fell, I rush down yellow brick stairs, past the washrooms with tiny miniaturized toilets and basins, I rush down three flights of stairs, holding the steel bannister and thinking that the stairs had not felt so narrow when I walked them as a child but perhaps it was because I was not supposed to run down them, ladies walk, they don’t run but I have to reach the chalk, the chalk in the rose garden, the chalk among the thorns.
But the water rises up and my family are in danger, I paddle and try to stay afloat, talking to my mother and my father and my sister as if I’m not drowning at all, as if everything is perfectly fine and my best friend says we should learn to smoke, everybody should know how, and let’s go bowling, ten pin, they have it here you know, and let’s take diet pills to get stoned, everybody should know how.
But I am getting takeout with my father, and I am disappointed, the portions are so small, one bite and my grilled steak sandwich with the secret BBQ sauce is gone, and there is nothing left but the taste on my tongue that makes me want more.
I am a page being designed. I feel the arrow moving across my skin, the headline is dragged across my forehead. The boxes of type and art are moved around and I want to shout stop it, I am so tired, make up your mind can’t you? But the designer can’t and I am made over again and again and again and all I want to do is sleep.
Lisa de Nikolits is the author of five novels. Her first novel, The Hungry Mirror, won a 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award. West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick. A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell recently launched in Fall 2015. Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, 2015, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House as well as poetry in Canada Woman Studies Journal (Remembering, 2013, and Water, 2015). Her sixth novel, The Nearly Girl, has been accepted for publication by Inanna and is scheduled to launch in Fall 2016 and her seventh, No Fury Like That has been accepted for publication by Inanna in 2017.
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[Picture derived from a photo by Aaron Alexander]