9. YOU WAKE UP THE NEXT DAY. IT'S A NEW DAY, SURE. BUT SOMEONE FORGOT TO WAKE
YOU UP OUT OF THE DREAM YOU WERE IN THE NIGHT BEFORE...
woke up with a start, and found myself on the lamppost. "What a nightmare!" I
I noticed it was still nighttime, but as I looked up into the sky, I saw a white
line dash across the starry heavens and land somewhere below the horizon. It went
taut, and I could hear the old blind fisherman, somewhere, grumbling as he tugged
and pulled, dragging the sun slowly across the sky to shine on the city. Although
the sun was blaring brightly, everything still looked dark. But when I rubbed
the lamppost, it gleamed underneath, and I realized it was only dirt that was
coloring everything so grey.
My stomach was awake too, and while I whispered to it to be quiet, I couldn't
help but overhear the thoughts that danced in the back of my head. "You're wasting
your life away! You're supposed to be somewhere. Everyone has someplace they're
supposed to be..."
"Who am I?"
"Where am I going?"
"Hey, you, eavesdropper, mind your own business!"
"I'm sorry," I gasped, and tried to listen to the sound of my stomach instead.
I shook my head to try and make the thoughts disappear, but when that didn't work,
I slid down the lamppost and tried to hurry away from myself. But my feet left
black imprints in the pavement, and I found myself following behind.
I stopped in front of a phone booth. There was someone inside crying softly and
pounding on the glass with feeble fists. But the windows were all black, and I
could not see inside. When I tugged on the door it wouldn't open. The sobbing
grew louder. I rubbed the soot on the glass with my sleeve. A face stared back
at me through the hole in the black soot. It was me!
I gasped and fell back onto the sidewalk. Suddenly the glass exploded on all four
sides of the booth, and when I opened my shielded eyes, it was empty. A quarter
rolled out and hit my shoe. Reaching over, I picked it up, and walked into the
glassless phone booth.
I put the quarter in the phone and listened to the voice on the other end of the
"Welcome to Nowhere," my own voice whispered from a future yet unknown. The wind
rushed through the holes in the booth, prickling my skin like wisps of memories
flooding my quivering brain.
I put the phone down and turned the page in the phone book and read the recipe
carefully. "Add one life and mix thoroughly. Separate your feelings and stir.
Simmer and bake on low flame until well done. Place on the shelf until stale,
then sprinkle with holy water and bake in preheated disappointment. Voila, poof,
The phone rang. It was me again. "Hello, what did you call me for?!" the voice
on the phone demanded.
"I think it's for me," someone whispered, and hesitantly held out her hand. I
turned and looked at the pretty face and my heart skipped a beat or two. Our eyes
met and a spark of hope flashed between us. My lips quivered, vaguely remembering
hers. My heart began pounding. I opened my mouth to speak, certain that I'd known
her ... somewhere, somewhen, but I couldn't remember where or when, and it was
so important to both of us that I did. I stared in silence as panic gripped every
fiber of my soul, and though my heart was screaming to be heard, I couldn't speak
Helplessly I watched my silence crush the expectant hope in her eyes and she disappointedly
looked down, breaking the connection. "Thank you," she sighed as I numbly handed
her the phone and backed out through the broken door onto the windblown street.
I kept stepping backwards, still hoping in vain to speak the words she longed
to hear. But she quickly forgot about me and turned her attention to the phone.
"Crick..." I heard her eagely, hopefully gasp into the phone. The
silence on the other end was deafening and she lowered her head, hope almost completely
gone. "Crack..." she answered herself in a hopeless sigh, and a tear ran down
her cheek. The phone remained silent.
"May peace prevail on earth," she
whispered slowly and deliberately, as if desperately reciting a prayer or the
last chance offering of a secret password to unlock her future.
overheard words echoed in my mind, drifting and fading as she too seemed to blur
into the distance. Her hopeful sentiment seem to unlock something in my brain,
but before I could reverse my footsteps to tell her so, a newspaper blew into
my face. The rambling scrawl on the scratchy pages of yesterday's news distracted
me just long enough so that I'd completely forgotten what I thought I'd discovered.
I didn't bother removing the pages as my footsteps carried me further away. I
did think about cutting a hole to see through as I walked along, but decided it
was best not to. My destination was probably clearer this way.
I reached into my pockets to warm my hands, and felt something soft and rubbery
and squishy. It made me shiver as I rolled it between my fingers. I pulled it
out to have a look.
"Yuk," I gurgled. "A piece of lint-covered ABC gum. Gross!" I gagged and dropped
it into a half empty bottle of warm beer lying on the road.
A flower opened up, cracking the bottle, and its stem pushed out across the empty
street, barring an invisible progression of yesterday's dreams. The beer label
hung like a banner flapping in the breeze. I snapped the stem and watched tomorrow
rush through, wiping away the roar of cars and buses and sirens and people's voices
humming and hissing.