Chasing the Fog
One binder for poems and another for stories; that’s how you organize genius, he thought. Yet the sad truth was there were only two poems in one binder and the other was full of scrap paper that said, “Research this.” And, “Allude to that.” He needed something; something to write about, to express his views between the lines of horror, fiction or fantasy. Willing to write reality, but that was too real. Reality is solid, unchanging. You can’t write a metaphor about a woman picking bananas. It was just that: a woman picking bananas. Sure you could personify the fruits, slip in a hearty message about choice or what have you, and send it to a magazine for fifty dollars just to breathe for a couple more days.
Sometimes he would write plot outlines, a superhuman trying to find his place in the world while fighting for the greater good, a poor beggar child searching for her father whilst a demon-king chases her, or the dark re-telling of a popular children’s tale he had hoped for. None would get past a page. Maybe he should write double-spaced, he thought. It was dusk when he opened up the binder again. He was thinking of advertisements and the way they sold, what they needed to sell. Pondering, he could probably write a half-decent advertisement in his sleep including camera angles and special effects. He disliked hollow scripts, maybe even hated them. Substance, he thought, that’s where the Pulitzer’s go. A cold spring wind ran through the open window. Imagined closing it, then decided he liked it. He was always a fan of the cold. Throughout his life his best memories had a blanket of snow over them. His pen touches the paper, nothing. Nothing was a description so suitable, so pure. Everything could fit into nothing. Yet, he had to break his nothing streak and therefore: break everything.
Chapter 1: All the Gods
Do you believe in God? He had asked his Mother once driving into town. His Mother’s life had been told in child-friendly segments throughout his life. That’s all she had to say. She believed in something, he knew that. There were questions that pounded his Mother’s temples. Do you believe in God? Maybe. Does he believe in me?
I am no hero, he thought. You know when you watch television for too long so that when you turn it off there is an outline of the scene you were watching on the screen. He felt like that, a paused moment slowly fading and waiting to be statically alive again. To be turned on, but by what and from whom? Break the spell himself, re-iterating to himself. He would set out one day to do so. One day soon, he would.
It was twenty-six past midnight when he opened up his binder again. The furnace jangled on, the only sound besides the seldom heard snoring of his parents. Usually the scritch-scratching of his pencil on paper would drown out the other late-night sounds, but he was in a slump. The worst part was that he knew that he was in a slump and could not spin out of it. He dressed in the light of the full moon.
In his knapsack he packed a sleeping bag, a pillow, a change of clothes and some snacks. Not knowing how long he would be gone. The pockets of his blue jeans hid his wallet and cellphone. Turning off his cell phone; he set forth to defeat the day break. He stared at the woods through his bedroom window. It was an abyss of shadows and sharp edges. Staring intently at the abyss and the abyss stared back at him.
On his dresser he left a note. It was one of his best works to date. On the note was a word, the word was “Goodbye”
There was an evil in this world: Unspeakable, unflinching, and unstoppable. It was a look in a man’s eyes or a twinge in a woman’s chest that would, eventually, lead to death, or worse. People are evil, he thought, selfish, brutal, dishonest and evil. This was unfortunate because evil could disguise itself in well-meant motives. If Superman killed Lex Luther, wasn’t Superman evil?
“Well,” Super fans would dawdle, “Mr. Luther can’t attempt anything, anymore. So, no, Superman’s not evil.”
Yes, he was. They knew it, and forever would hold onto it. In the dim light of the moon, such as right now, they would remember that Superman had broken the Cardinal Rule. Superman’s soul would forever be blackened. He could almost hear her weep.
Chapter 2: The Wake
In the black of sleep and the black of night, there is no time. There is only memory. Awake and asleep, these are the things that define us. So sleep, and wake. Remember your dreams, and your wakes. Remember her, remember all of us. Memory is but ourselves, cast in characters we thought we played. We are never the main characters of the play. Awake is no act. So wake, and sleep. Memorize the scenes, the players and the set. Play your part, know your lines. Should memory fail, follow your heart, follow your dreams. Arise with the knowledge that time has passed. Arise anew in the costume you wear and sleep with the knowledge that new dreams and new memories will exist in no time.
Chapter 3: The Girl in His Dreams, of His Dreams
He dreamt of her, the immortal her. Sleep is but the fluttering images of truth, lies, hidden truths and deeper truths. He dreamt of himself, only more poignantly. Some images of himself were blurred by his own self-indulgence. Some images were not so opaque when he dreamt of them. Their future, their story, similar to a Hollywood movie only more jumbled.
She was beautiful, is beautiful. When she spoke, she sang. The times when she didn’t speak in his dreams, were even better. It was not being said. The dreamlike imagery of her tilting head ever so slightly to the side and him falling, gushing. His heart: warmer than ever before. Her eyes and his eyes would meet and everything was so clear, so indescribably cognitive. Not like when they were together, awake. Awake and together, there were doubts. The mind worked overtime and worry would take over. Was she only friendly? Only wishing to be friends? His heart would sink, walk away with doubt. Head hung in shame.
She was afraid of her own body. He wanted to hold that body. Embrace every angle and curve. She held him with friendly embraces; he wanted to meet them with romantic subtext. She looks beautiful. Why can’t he tell her that? He can’t.
It’s nothing like his dreams. The imaginary “them” running in slow motion to meet at the lips. Nothing like the thirty-five millimetre running through his cerebral cortex, every night he closes his eyes, wishing that the real-life counterparts would act like they do in his dreams. Yet still he dreams, wishes and dreams. Was he in love with a girl, or the girl in his dreams?
Chapter 4: Sunday
The wind rustled, eye fluttered open. Awake, the smell of bacon. Shuffling steps, muffled voice, a conversation or the radio. It was Sunday. He was still home. What a funny word, home. His home: not for long. Distraught, his half-remembered dream had profoundly bothered him. The thoughts of departure and smell of youth lingered through the air. It was even more disconnecting. He hid his pack under the bed, threw on a pair of pyjamas and made his way upstairs.
There, his parents were waiting, his Father sat on the couch watching highlights of last week’s game and his Mother stood in the kitchen bacon in hand, for him. Wanting to bolt out the door right then and there, his Mother held his stare. His designated spot at table waited as he backed into it. Sulkily, picking up the paper, checking the Sunday comics he smugly chuckled at Shultz’s depiction of childhood. Mother handed his juice and pills to lackadaisical hands. Pig-pen swirled around fingertips. Swirling, he tossed into a dream of dreams within dreams. Dragons hid behind the cacti. When the Dysomnia ends; he will run, never to look back.
Chapter 5: Lackadaisical Hands
We are ordinary people, ordinary clothes, smells and shapes. She changed her hair, changed again. The she disappears. Back into his subconscious, waiting for another day. The wolves see him, smell him. Chase and growl, bark, never biting, it’s not what we want. We want the scare but not the pain. We hit the wall and abruptly turn around, the wolves are gone and a lonely dark alley replaces the woods. Now we’re alone, you’re alone, he’s alone. Walk toward the lamp-post, the cement gives way to darkness. We fall, ready to wake. Ready for light and ground and for the unbearable torturing loneliness, he was ready to go away. She reappears then and you’re ready to start again
There was a blur, a motion. Someone was carrying him. Softness, a pillow on his head, a blanket came from his feet and around his throat. There was peck on his forehead. The moisture stayed on his brow, a stamp, an emblem of love. A pill, swallowed.
“Back to bed,” the voice said.
I am in a perpetual nothing cycle. I started this novel when I was eighteen am now twenty. Speaking to you, I had a bag packed ready to run away. I can’t speak to you, I realize. I must do it through “he” and you will never know when “he” ends and “I” begin. This was the only way I could tell you that whilst dreaming he did write plays and sonnets, poems and stories. He was a writer even though his thoughts never reached paper. I plan on wrapping this story soon, I want to finish it. This is what I want to tell you.
Chapter 6: Funny & Peculiar
Perspective is funny. It’s the way that we, as humans, see the world. Not just what we see, but how we see it. In dreams it’s almost too distant. It is like things are happening around you and not directly to you. That scared him. He didn’t dream as often as he liked anymore. The meds wore off and then the drowsiness went away. He started to see the world as others saw it. Human nature funny in the way it tried to recreate the things so solid in dreams. So much less solid in the real world as if they were asking the ultimate creator if their models were anything close to right. Doubt was universal; everyone was questioning their own existence. We are questioning if our dreams meant anything more than a subconscious love for pancakes. What did it matter? Perspective was fickle and could change at any moment.
Religion is peculiar. A house filled with dead angels and dead hopes bleeding from the feet. King James ruled over his peasants millennia after his death. There was a road that led to his hometown. The road was thin and fickle, always hard to rely on. At the end of the road the only thing visible was the church. As if that was the only thing important. He could always take that road and coming right back to that church. Yet, the forest-covered both sides of the paved path making it thinner than it already was. The church was so daunting, larger than it was. It had always felt further away than it appeared. Perspective was tricky business and the church had a distance to it.
Chapter 7: Love
He fell in love with every woman that he saw. First it was his neighbour, he had written her a letter when they were young telling her that he liked her. Standing at her mailbox, he ripped it up. Everyone on his school bus then fell in love with her. Then there were the two he was wedged between during school. They annoyed him, and how he secretly enjoyed it. Surrounded by fellow boys he admitted to liking one more than the other. They soon found out, the torturing stopped. His first romantic dream was about this one girl, it was a beautiful dream about them getting married and kissing like they did in the movies. He gave a rose to one girl on Valentine’s Day, but there were more popular boys with better smiles and better roses. One girl didn’t even notice when he fell hard for her in high school. He was mostly invisible those days anyway. Even now dreaming, writing, wanting to run there is a girl who he finds truly beautiful. He is unsure if she will ever know. He wished every woman fell in love with him.
Chapter 8: Blood & Fog
While driving it always felt if the world was rushing toward you and not the other way around. Like the whole world is in fast forward. Automobile death was very common. Most likely because every human being is too focused on the whole world passing them by, and then the world hits them. When I was young I played on jungle gyms. A girl and her brother were chasing each other, playing tag. I didn’t even notice until the blood started pouring from her forehead. My world stopped. I was frozen in time, numb to the shoving and screaming of my sister, pushing me to get my parents. I didn’t notice when I started running or remember what I told my mother. I was still on that playground, watching that girl’s life run over her eyes and onto her chin. Sixteen stitches, I can’t even remember how old I was, but I’ll always remember when the world stopped rushing past and just hit me.
They tell me that fog is created by warm days and cold nights. They’re just these low-laying clouds. Some say their memories and dreams are foggy. Hopes can be foggy too. I hoped to one day be a superhero, when I was a child. I prayed to God. They tell me God works in mysterious ways. I think God works in fog. It’s a mixture of sun bouncing off snow, illuminating all, and a cold, bitter wind that you turn your back to. Fog shuts you out, doesn’t let you see the obstacle in your way, until you have to manoeuvre it. They make specialty lights for fog.
My mind blinks to the beat on the radio as I drive. I click on the fog-lights. The clouds part, but just in front. The only thing not encompassed in fog is me. I drive towards the fog, never hitting it. It follows behind, waits ahead. I chase it, we all chase it. I want the fog, he turns in his sleep. The whole world is in that fog. All the memories, dreams and hopes reside there. I believe in the fog, never to touch or taste her. So, tell me reader, answer my qualms. Does the fog believe in me?