book of days serial #1

The night was white cold and clear in its desert hoary winter moonlight. By then she was sleeping not in the spartan bedroom, but out in the living room so the wintry wetness of the night pool-light wove mint tinged nets across the ceiling. There she slept on a faded red futon mattress that she purchased after it had remained on outdoor display in a parking lot for months the previous winter. The cats enjoyed its salty, oily odor. She slept there wrapped in a thick sleeping bag. The sleeping bag had a psychological purpose. In light of the uneasy sense she had that sleeping regularly in a room other than the bedroom could be construed as the first step toward something unnamable, she told herself that she was sleeping under this arrangement just until the insulation of the sleeping bag made the heat prohibitive, and just until the task of fitting wispy sheets to the mattress every evening became too daunting and indicative of her mania for hiding the issue, just until the heat blossomed, just until the fires began to burn in the mountains and set to weaving the brimstone grey nets across the bedroom ceiling, sleeping out here only because the bedroom in the apartment was so stark, so damp, only because the palms scraped against the screens and there was no one to wake her up in the mornings.

Midmorning. She was out until mid afternoon. The skies were losing their blue solidity and slipping into that misty neutrality that reawakened her awareness of a ground plane in the city. At this time of year the afternoons were evenings and by nine postmeridian she was dead to the world.

After an aimless tour of the courtyard and galerie leading to her apartment door, she hesitantly entered and sat down on the futon in the outer room of the apartment. She sat as though waiting for someone in the lobby of a hotel. One of her elbows rested against the edge of the futon that touched the wall. Her shoulder leaned against the wall as though it were the wing of an all-encompassing armchair. She remained distant that way for almost half an hour without moving anything but her forearms and hands, which ran periodically across the more oily portions of her face. She, at length, rose and went into the bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed.

Although it was still early in the afternoon, she felt very sleepy. She was afraid to stretch out and go to sleep. Not because she had bad dreams, she adored the depths of grey sleep, but she feared the difficult task of waking up again. When she fell asleep, she was always afraid she would never get up. She would grow conscious, but not among the living.

Her fear was not as strong as her need to sink away. She got the alarm clock and set it for seven postmeridian, then threw it into the hallway to necessitate her rising somewhat consciously in order to disarm it. Two hours later, it seemed like mere seconds to her, the alarm went off. The hammering shriek lasted for a full minute before she began to laboriously work toward consciousness. The struggle was a hard one. She groaned. Her head trembled and her feet shot out. Finally her eyes opened, then widened. Once more victory was hers. She smoked five cigarettes in succession, into an ashtray on her chest, before rising.

It was then hideous dusk and her grog was still deep. She spent the evening sitting, rising to awareness, and watching the cat sleep. She spent the night wide awake and keenly driving in a meticulous loop around Los Angeles County.

Critical Response:

« | »