My high school had a pair of original wings—erected at a time when “Advanced Arrowhead Design” was part of the curriculum—as well as a modern addition, a wing with a roof and glass windows and other newfangled stuff. Oddly I can’t recall ever having a class in the old building during my four years at the school.
In my dream I’m assigned classes there, but don’t attend.
As the semester progresses, and I fall further behind, it becomes more and more difficult to begin attending—to enter the rooms and face stares from the teachers and students. To say nothing of catching up on all the work I’ve missed. Instead I pace the hallway outside the classroom doors, catching glimpses of shadows through frosted windows, overhearing occasional laughter. Eventually it becomes so late in the semester, failure is a foregone conclusion.
I feel awful about it as I pace the hallway. I’m filled with an ever-increasing sense of dread. Finally the semester ends and I have Fs in all my courses.
That’s when I enter the classrooms, now empty. They’re dusky and dreary. The ancient desks are carved with initials and graffiti static. The tile floors are dull and chipped. The blackboards are hard to erase because of accrued abrasions; some of the chalk marks are permanent: wispy remnants of lectures long forgotten, evidence for which is nevertheless impossible to obliterate.
In my dream I wander from one empty classroom to another, and the void seems to speak to some unknown tragedy, something more than merely flunking out of school. I pass through the rooms one by one. They never end. They never, ever end. The emptiness itself has sentience, a purpose, a plan.
I awake in a panic, and don’t know why. In real life I attended all my classes and earned good grades.
An Australian friend, call him Tom, described a trip he took with his 80-year-old mother, and I want to share one small part of it.
Tom’s father had died some years earlier, and he’d arranged a tour of Australia with his mother primarily to get her out of the house; she wouldn’t stop grieving, wouldn’t stop visiting the cemetery twice a day.
At a stopover in a small, remote town in the Outback the hotel couldn’t provide the two rooms Tom had reserved, because a guest was ill and unable to leave. Tom and his mother were thus forced to share a room, and it had only one bed.
No problem, Tom decided. They’d sleep together in the same bed. It was a little awkward, but hey, it was his mother. What the hell.
After they’d settled in and Tom turned out the light, he heard his mother weeping softly in the dark. He turned the light back on and asked what was the matter.
“I just realized, this is the first time since your father died that a man has shared a bed with me.”
Tom took his mother in his arms and held her until she fell asleep. From then on, for the remainder of the trip, he reserved only one room at the hotels.
I joined Fictionaut recently. Wendy and Jennifer have farmed some writers there, so I thought I’d give it a shot. So far, nothing for Lascaux, although a couple of pieces have come close. (Stop The Presses: between writing this post and posting it, I found two gems at Fictionaut and made offers on both.)
This attack upon the Girl Scouts just makes me want to buy more cookies (pinched from Sarah Laurenson):
Can’t resist sharing this (yoinked from Mark Van Aken Williams):
I have to run now. My seventy-eleven-year-old neighbor Eleanor just called. She wants the boxes I carried from the attic to the basement last week carried back up to the attic. When, in an admittedly irritated voice, I asked why, there was a long silence, then she said, “Does it not occur to you that perhaps I changed my mind?”
“It also occurs to me that you merely enjoy watching me huff up and down three flights of stairs while you swill your vodka.”
“You know what to do with that thought, Stefan.”
Right. Parrish it.