When the Bough Breaks

last night, i daydreamed before sleep, like always. fantasies, nightswims, whatever you want to call them since there's no day involved, but i'm sure you know of what i speak: not worrying or fretting over Life - quite the opposite. projecting Life cinematically against the silver screen of your mind, how you wish it was written, how you'd write it out for the future.

when i nestled into my pillow, i was more than happy - i was giddy. it had been a wonderful day, Monday, with lots of positive feedback on my writing, lots of connections with new friends and sad stories swapped that stirred within me a joyous high - the old body electric - remembering that it's tough all over, we've all been to Hell but each known different degrees and pain is the same, even if the stories aren't exactly. but we walk through the fires, come out the other side - lil' charred, lil' toasty - but wiser - and warmer - for it.

with these notions in mind, i smiled, relaxed, waded a bit into unconscious streams: the future, my future and i don't know how much time lapsed but there was a stretch of grey then me, standing on a city sidewalk, and i was struck, thinking, "I look so pretty. I look so happy..." i knew it was autumn, my favorite season, because i wore my long hair down, tousled in loose ringlets, a scarf needlessly wrapped about my neck and a light suede coat over my shoulders. i pressed myself up against a strong, beautiful man i've never before seen; i had to lean up on my toes to touch my forehead to his and he smiled - we both smiled this genuine joy that shone like the blonde of his hair - and i reached out, touched his upper arm for balance, my fingers alighting on the strange junction where thin white t-shirt cuff met strong tanned flesh and sinew - and that's when i knew. i knew why we were so happy. i knew why we were so in love. i knew why we were smiling.

without pulling away from him, without removing my arm from that strange junction, i leaned my head over his left shoulder - a "peek-a-boo!" - and there he was, strapped to the back of this man i did not know, do not know, this man i love, harnessed to his shoulders was a cherub with round blue eyes - not mine, most certainly my love's - and a face...a smile i see every day of my life. and how that angel laughed for me, let me kiss his dimpled cheeks, rub my nose at his until he relaxed his sweet face into the smallest of smiles, drew together thick and dark his long lashes and approvingly, soothingly assured me, "Ahhhhhhhmmm..." the three of us standing pressed together like this for what felt like hours, was likely minutes, just us three on this urban sidewalk in some empty city, a white t-shirt bleaching out the sun, our smiles striking out the shirt, the sun, every star in every heaven this cherub comes from a shinier place, a place that stuns the sun, this angel comes from

and that's when i choked—sat straight up in bed, choked, smashed my hand over my mouth but heaved with a cry despite it. sobbed, let loose a wail like i haven't since April 2003, when my little brother had a near-fatal accident. i think 7 years between wailings a permissible, tolerable passage.

i cried myself to sleep. what i dreamt - where my mind took me, what script it wrote without my permission - is far stranger, of course, but just as easily analyzed. i was back at FSU, walking the corridors of the Williams Building, the English Department, and i was younger, grad student age - 26, 27? i walked the hall most familiar to me: right off the elevators, keep straight, TA office to the right, one in front of me but the hall turns, left, and there, on my right - that's my office. but why are all of the office doors shut? where are all of the TAs? why do i think that if i were to open their doors, i'd find live audience game shows recording in there? why am i thinking "What's behind Door Number One?" why am i alone? why do i feel so timid, this sense of foreboding do not open your office door, Annie - do not - but i have to, i must, there's something in there to know, to understand, to learn so open it - turn the silver handle, throw the door open and quickly step away, back, up against the wall so that whatever's inside cannot hurt you.

which is what i do and what i see is a young woman, early-20s. she wears her shiny brown hair cut in a chic angular bob, knee-length khaki cargo shorts, new-ish running shoes and a loose-fitting stark-white men's t-shirt. harnessed around her chest, legs, waist like some sick blue nylon joke of assurance is thin rope and it digs into her thighs, breasts, shoulders - her weight, her body, the enemy - if she rests back, the ropes tighten, pull-purple agony and she must lift herself up again for relief but her arm aches. an anchor rope clipped to the center of the blue web leads upupup the face of a canyon cliff here, in my old office, that rope leads up to no one, nothing - not a person, cactus, tumbleweed - certainly no rock. the young woman is screaming blood, her face boils sweat - she is stuck at the midway point of the cliff and i cannot tell: is she trying to go up or down? which way does she want to go? but it doesn't matter which way she wants to go because she cannot move, she cannot take her right hand off of that rope because the left hand is clenching white knuckled for dear life because on her hip, she carries a baby.

and the baby is not harnessed. the angel has no wings.

but this is the desert, barren wasteland and little can survive here save heat, sand and snakes and christ, that's when this thing...this serpent taller than the cliff looms at the young mother, taunting her, nudging at her as if about to strike but instead, turns his giant head behind her and spews a wall of fire at her back and she howls, contorts into a statue of fear swinging from that harness and the baby wails, his face purple and all i can think is, "Which way is she supposed to go? If I just knew if she wanted to climb up or down I'd find a way to help her but I don't know."

that's all i remember. woke up this morning, thought about the dream a while, then put it away.

a little over an hour ago, the left side of my abdomen kissed with an ache - looking for some recognition, i figured. can't be. that would mean nine - nine separate cycles and/or cyst ruptures in almost eleven weeks. i've had a working week off - five days. i thought it was done, over - just another bout of madness like oh, the so many these past twenty-two years.

writing this has gotten me through the beginnings of what appears to be another rupture, so whether or not anyone reads this...inconsequential. seems i've got a very weak yet somewhat effective narcotic here - addictive but one i most certainly can call a fiend. i have a band-aid, in any case. but it's coming off now, drowned in all this saltwater so it's time to rip it off. i need to close my eyes though why i would after all of...

pain is indifferent to pain. pain is the same.

as i conclude this strange stream,
i curse consciousness,
curse nightswimming,
curse every goddamned dream.


  1. Well, I read it, and it’s a fine, fine piece of writing.

  2. "pain is indifferent to pain" nice, I love the depth of description here and my thews ache for you, my bones break again at the weight of this. Good writing. only one thing which I'll e-mail. Love it love it love it.