Straight On Til Morning

Feb 21 2014

“I have to do this,” said John, with the air of someone who was trying to feel sorry.

“you need to be careful”, said Jane. “i dont think you know what youre getting yourself into. the price might be more than you’re willing to pay. you might be lost forever, you might never come back”. He hadn’t seen her in weeks, but John thought that she looked more beautiful than ever in the fading daylight beaming through the kitchen window. He thought that she would never really know about her beauty.

“I’m sorry,” he said, just as though he was trying even harder, “I love you, but I can’t be a good artist without going there.” Jane looked tired suddenly, and John realised that it was because she was defeated. She flicked a few sorrowful droplets from her gentle, intelligent eyes as she stood up. “goodbye”, she said, and kissed him on the face. “please eat a sandwich John, you look like shit”. She walked out the door and closed it softly behind her, and he knew that was the last time he would ever see her walk out. No one else was left to wonder or worry.

He had been trying to place himself into the most liminal spaces possible. He had decided that home was the most liminal space possible, as being the place to return to and recuperate between efforts out in the world, so he stayed in his home. He lingered for hours in doorways, and paced up and down hallways all night, and thought that he was getting closer, but he knew that the closest he came was when he was in bed. The bedroom is that strange place where so little is done, but so much is done; where dreams are another world that exists but will never be, and where new human beings are conceived in the darkness with a few bits of stuff that came out of nowhere. He stayed in bed, and starved, and the sheets that were already stiff with sweat became foul.

A few days and nights after Jane left him forever, a vision came to John in that place between sleep and awake, where dreaming doesn’t yet happen but thoughts and images become volatile and lose their boundaries, lapping against and overlapping each other. In his vision a silver curtain of stardust descended from the skies and settled over his house and all of the land around as far as the horizon. It was shivering with its own weight, and then its tension broke and it flooded through all of the things it touched, leaving its traces through everything and sinking deep into the earth.

He started awake, but could not tell immediately that he was awake. In a part of his mind it seemed that he had awoken as often happened in this weird place of slipping halfway into sleep, but then he realised that he was being tickled and he was consumed by shudders of involuntary laughter. “Wake up, wake up sleepy head!” bubbled a deep cheery voice, “Can’t be sleeping all day! Got to get out in the world!” John jumped out of his bed and looked at it, and realised that he had been tickled by its fronds. It was a mass of foliage, and it was alive and talking to him. “Ha ha ha,” it laughed. Its mattress where he had reclined was all a bed of roses that were blinking open and closed and they each had an eyeball in them that was peering at him in amusement. “But you’re not a person, you’re a bed!” protested John. “And I suppose you think you’re a person?” said the bed. “You’re just a big old sleepy head! Ha ha ha! Up an’ at ‘em! Ha ha ha!” John didn’t think the conversation was going to go much further, but he tried anyway. “What am I then? And what are you? And where am I?” The bed was not moved. “Ha ha ha!” it said.

When he walked out into the hallway, John surprised the walls in a state of undress. “Don’t look!” they shrieked, “We’re naked!” They were trying to shimmer back into their papers, which had all come down, and were not going back on as smoothly. His eyes clamped shut and his hand flew over them, but he unthinkingly began to feel his way along the walls, and they started giggling. “Oh well, we guess you can have just a peek,” they said, and when he opened his eyes again they were coyly peeling away their papers once more to reveal the raw surfaces underneath.

John tried to use the toilet but it was overflowing with chocolates in shiny wrappers and they were spilling all over the floor, but then he realised that he felt no need to empty his bladder. His toothpaste had also turned to chocolate, and so had his toothbrush. When he ran the water in the sink urine came out. At least, he thought it was urine at first – but then he realised that it smelled like lemons, and when he experimentally tasted a drop from his finger, he realised that it was lemonade. He drank some, and it tasted amazing, so he grabbed a handful of chocolates and began to eat them as he walked downstairs.

His studio was a state of chaos. He thought that there must be a wind storm in there because all of his papers were flying about, but then he saw that they had turned into butterflies. He could see his paintings all over their gorgeous wings as they fluttered around, and he still thought that his favourites were the most glorious. They were battering against the windows, but the windows turned to steam, and they flew out. All of his paint tubes had popped open and were gushing forth waterfalls, and his pencils and paintbrushes had turned to pretty little snakes and they were swimming around in the paint. He closed the door.

He walked out of his house into a perfect afternoon with a sun that very softly chimed “Forever, forever,” in a sky with clouds that were raining clumps of fairy floss. Two small honey coloured rabbits on his front lawn were ignoring him completely and complimenting each other on their choice of coats and hats. The branches of a very large nearby tree had turned to a ferries wheel and were revolving at a leisurely speed. John hopped aboard and as his cabin neared the top he flung his arms wide and breathed in the sweet fragrant atmosphere of that Other place. Tiny winged naked men and women buzzed obliviously around him in the balmy air, but there was not a human soul as far as he could see. “Finally,” he said, exhaling the word with all of the pure relief and safety that he could have ever expected to know, “I’m alone.”

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