Dream of Worlds Away

Title (4)

I stand over the bathroom sink, my hands curled tightly over the porcelain edge. The water is running so it sounds like I’m still doing something in here. I used to think about how I was wasting it, how all the lakes were slowly being drained because of my inability to leave the bathroom. The bathroom is such a neutral place. When I leave it I have to go to my room and sleep. When I go to sleep I dream. I dream wild, non neutral dreams. When I dream everything is perfect and then I wake up. In my bed. In my mom’s house. In this life.

I hear voices in her room down the hall. She’s yelling and so is he. When I say yelling I mean the kind of whisper yelling people use when they know they could be overheard. I turn off the tap. I listen despite knowing I shouldn’t.

Earlier tonight he’d been drinking again. No one ever sees him drink but we all know he does. I have found bottles hidden in the basement and the garage. The bottle in the garage was under my old polka dotted baby carriage. My father says hiding your drinking is when you have a real problem. But the man in my mother’s room is not my father. The man in my mother’s bed hides it.

“I can’t trust you,” I hear my mother tell him.

“Did…did you file the taxes today?” he slurs.

“Did you hear me? Are you listening?” she asks.

“If you don’t file you won’t…you won’t get money back from the government.” he says.

“Why don’t you hear me? I’m telling you this has got to stop!” Her voice cracks.

“I should get the forms tomorrow..and you can file,” he mutters.

“You promised you’d get help. You promised if I married you you’d stop!” she says.

“File. Your. Taxes!” he insists.

“Stop it! Listen to me! Please,” she begs him, her voice quiet on the last word.

I turn the water back on. I look at my face in the mirror. I look so tired. I hate my hair. I hate my clothes. I hate how I always look so tired. This time I wash my hands again. I prepare to leave the bathroom so I can go to sleep. And dream. But not before I watch a show.

I love television. I need television. I watch it all day. I watch my special shows only at night in my bed. I wrap my cool blankets around me, wrap my mesh curtain around the bed, put my ear buds in tight and watch my special shows. No one else can be in the room when I watch them. They are mine and mine alone. No one else understands them like I do. No one else cares about them like I do. I leave this world and enter one of the worlds I desperately love.

Tonight I watch a drama set in the deep South. Belles in floral dresses exchange longing looks with gentleman who treat them like delicate flowers. I am in love with one couple on the show. My heart skips a beat when the man pulls the woman aside. They kiss. I rewind. They kiss. I rewind. They kiss. The episode ends. I stare at the screen, needing more.

“Get off me. I’m trying to sleep.” My mother’s voice penetrates the silence.

“Mmm,” he groans.

“I hate it when you’re like this,” she says.

“I hate it when…when you’re like this,” he accuses her.

“I’m not talking about this anymore,” she says wearily.

“We need to talk about the taxes.”

“Oh my god! I’m not talking about the goddamn taxes! I’m talking about you!”

“What about me?” he asks slowly.

“Your drinking!” she cries.

“You really need to file your taxes.”

My mother whisper screams in anger. By tomorrow she’ll pretend everything is fine. By tomorrow I’ll be expected to talk to him nicely. Even when he comes in from the basement or the garage with that look on his face and that smell on his breath. If I’m rude to him my mother will be mad at me. She’ll get upset about everything except him. The dirt in the rug, the dishes I left on the counter, the radio being too loud. She will address all minor things with unnecessary anger. Him she’ll address calmly, and will expect me to do the same. Tonight will be forgotten.

I decide I’ll watch another episode. I’m just getting hooked. Who needs sleep? I look tired all the time anyway. Then I can fall asleep with my head full of the show and dream about the world I love. The magnolia trees, the white gazebos, the charming conversations. I click play. The theme song starts up…

“Why did you promise then?” my mother asks him. They sound so far away.

I turn the volume up. I mouth the words of the song, excited for what this new episode will bring.

“Get off!” Her voice is so quiet now.

I push the ear buds deeper in my ears. The man smiles at the woman. She blushes. I smile.

“What is wrong with you? What is wrong with you!?” my mother cries, loudly this time.

I sigh, frustrated. I can’t focus on my show with the background noise from my life interfering. I drift into familiar thoughts.

 

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Lately I’ve been trying to figure out why I can’t just leave, and start a life of my own right now. A life where my dreams aren’t only quiet things I keep to myself in the dark. I realize I can’t leave because I am too scared to leave. What if my mother needs me here? What if life doesn’t get better than this? What if I fall in love one day and it turns into something unrecognizable? I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve seen it happen to her. The world around me has gone so frighteningly off script. I’m not strong enough yet to risk my dreams getting erased. So for now I disappear into the worlds on television, a part of me feeling like a coward.

I click my fan on. The whirring noise drowns out my thoughts and their voices. I turn back to the screen. The woman takes the man’s hand. Southern sunshine lights up her eyes. I dream and dream that I could be her. The air from the fan blows a tendril of hair across my cheek. It feels like a sweet Georgia breeze.

Whirrrr whirrrr whirrrr

 I dream and dream and dream.

By Ashley Foy

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