Essays

Next to Lost

Dreams whisper like smoke, curling off this cigarette, drowning in a night filled with air. A suffocating air. Spiraling, circling, finding its way back to me in the form of memories. Deep memories, regretful memories, real memories. Not like that song in Cats. These are real. These are haunting. Trapped in a cell painted with gray matter. I have to let go. Move on. Further than the east side. But these dreams always arrive. They always appear, like the train passing by, shaking the balcony on my apartment. Unsteerable.

The first one that arrives tonight is of a car. Steering the wheel of a lead-footed Saturn wagon. 90. 95. 100. Caught it at 120. Don’t remember getting there. Stereo blasts cryptic anger, both proud and ashamed. Realization strikes like waking up late for work. “Fuck! What am I doing?!” So often asked, so rarely a good answer. One hand spasm, one knee jerk, would bulldoze a path through the country homes. What am I doing? Maybe this will show her?

Sleepwalk around the apartment. Convince myself I’m not alone. I’m not. I’ve got the internet. Technological communication. The modern water cooler. Conference room, telephone, and singles bar all in one. Prism that I’m staring at now. So alluring. Such a beautiful ugliness. Always accepting.

Who was she? She was she. The she. I still dream about her, although I don’t want to. I wake up with the glow of the latest dream where she finally loves me. I couldn’t win her in life, but I continually win her in dreams. The place that doesn’t matter. I crave to scrape the neurons to destroy any memory of her. But what if I miss, and take out hand-eye coordination instead. Small price to pay? Who am I kidding, I have no hand-eye coordination. Where is she now? Unimportance in my life, but starring role in my dreams. How did it all begin? How did I end up doubling the speed limit, fanning a flame of unquenchable rage? I could have killed that night. I almost did. Memory will return soon.

The spinning cloud of smoke hovers around my face, like the non-smoker at the smokers’ table. Veils and burns my eyes. Blackens my lungs a little more, but obliviates pain for a short time. Here it comes.

She cheated on me. No wait, we weren’t together. But we were. Friends with benefits. What the fuck is that? She was lonely, and she needed someone for the time. Who better than her closest friend? When someone more attractive came along, she used him instead. But it was me that she loved. Wasn’t it? That part is foggy. I loved her. Maybe not. That part foggy too. I was obsessed with her, I remember that much. My life was meaningless if I was not with her. Her life was meaningful as long as someone was with her. Could be me, could be him. That night it was him. The previous night it had been me. Had I not seen her on the road, shrouded by the dulling street lamp, her silhouette blending with his, maybe I would have never known. Maybe I would have never recorded it. Maybe I wouldn’t remember.

The cold wind presses against my face, creating fake gin blossoms. Can’t afford gin, or else they would be real. Lose myself in alcohol as well as smoke. These memories will kill me faster. The wind can’t make my skin numb enough.

I was numb as I looked down that road. Emotions pressing on my temples like my foot on the gas. Desperate to explode. So much of it that I couldn’t feel anymore. I couldn’t stop swearing, I had no control. I had no meaning. Without her. What a pathetic high school mind. More distorted with each repetition. That night ended with no further consequence, except the black mark on my psyche that I can’t seem to erase. That everlasting instant. Two hours in my life. Feels like two years. I long to lose the memory of that night, but it becomes more stylized with each visit by the subconscious. More vivid. More bright. More lonely. Keeps chasing me. Not lost, but next to it.

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