Wednesday, August 26, 2009

jonah's dreams

Here's a little chunk of the chapter i'm working on today. Me likee. :)

This is the first introduction to Jonah, but for other pieces, search for tag 'crescent city blues.'

ADDENDUM: these are all very very rough-drafty style, just FYI.

Thanks for reading!

The dreams were happier, Jonah had to admit, than his waking life. How strange, he thought, to be happier in my sleep than I am when I’m conscious.

There is a 4:00 a.m. sense of worthlessness and insecurity and lack of hope that all but the most dull-witted and emotionally insensate humans come across at some point in their lives. It’s a sudden wakefulness, a sweat-drenched wondering where the hell your life has gone, often followed by an overwhelming, debilitating sense that you have no business doing whatever it is you do, that you are a pretender, a faker, and a sham, and that everyone can see right through you.

What Jonah was experiencing was different, in that it was much, much worse.

It was a crashing, crushing sadness that overcame him upon awaking, true enough. But the engine that drove it was a strange, non-specific sense of loss, a sense of some forgotten magic, of a paradise hidden from sight--a devastating, creeping notion that somewhere along the line, he had misplaced...himself, for lack of a better word.

What made it harder still to deal with was that there was no real reason for him to feel this way. There was nothing in his real-world life that reflected such a change.

It was most poignant just as he reached consciousness, a sense of loneliness and despair so deep that it could occasionally bring tears to his eyes just as they cracked open to see the first light of day. It was as if he were living someone else’s life when he was awake, and that he could only catch fragmentary glimpses of his true self when he slept.

It was a sensation that he was never fully able to shake--that he didn’t belong here in this world, that he had simply mislaid his real one.

He managed to put it to one side, to carry on in the mundane tasks of his work during the day. But every moment of consciousness was plagued by a quiet, nagging sense that his existence was somehow wrong, a mistake, a dead-end that had been reached after a missed turn. He constantly longed for sleep, for a return to that world where he felt comfortable, where he felt right.

Where he felt he belonged.

And so he slept, as often as he could, as much as he could. His machines hummed around him and he slept.

In his dreams he was a part of a large family or clan. There was usually a house, more like a lodge or a commune, a shared compound. It was a raw, sprawling place, a sea of chaos where friends came and went, where children ran underfoot and there was always lively conversation. Smells of cooking emanated from the huge and ever-populous kitchen, and a holiday atmosphere was ever-present. People laughed unselfconsciously and told stories or played games. They sat and drew charcoal sketches or read aloud to one another. In a corner a woman with a thick, braided rope of iron-gray hair hanging down her back smiled as she painted, her easel tilted to allow her to take in the light outside the broad picture window.

Jonah smiled too as he turned to gaze outside. There he saw packs of wild, whooping children playing on the lawn, black and brown and blond and shimmering with sweat in the hazy sunlight, wearing only as much clothing as was absolutely required. Racing after one another, shrieking and laughing, they were a flock of bipedal starlings coalescing, then exploding apart in a series of childish algorithms no adult could ever understand.

Many times in his dreams there was a waterfront, a dock that lay at the foot of the lush, green lawn below the house, where boats were tied up. Groups of men took small craft out onto the water and returned with a bounty of snapper, crawfish, and oysters, pretending to toss the fish at squealing children who ran down to greet them. The men unloaded other sacks as well, ones they didn’t flaunt and which were quickly spirited away.

Even as Jonah sat a hundred floors up behind titanium-bolted doors, plugged into his workstation, monitoring a hundred forms of data streaming past in a thousand different permutations, as plugged in to the modern world of ones and zeroes as anyone ever had been or ever could be, even feeling the steady flow of re-circulated air kept at exactly 65 degrees, even then he could see the pastoral vision from his dreams. And although he had never been there, he felt in some way, as if it had been created for him.

Simultaneously he felt as if he had created it for them, the people who were his dream-family.

He shook his head and made a conscious effort to set aside the lush, green, liveliness of his dream-world.

The real world was strange enough.

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