Saturday, November 29, 2008


The hill is endless, no cross streets in sight, simply one constant block with lookalike bungalows on either side, some with FOR RENT signs. I want to stop and look at one of them, but I'm propelled constantly forward. I'm in a car, then, am I? Evidently, though I'm not driving, and no one else is, either. But I'm viewing through a window, and I hear a radio commercial for something called Mid-City Waterbeds, though its given address is actually somewhere in the western suburbs. I hear this and I know this, though I have no idea where I am, what city I'm in.

The window is gone, the radio is gone. I'm walking now, downhill this time, and people follow me. Not threateningly, more like I'm leading them. They catch up with me, they pass me, we move onward, then suddenly stand still. We're at some sort of crossroads, faded green hills loom up before us, dotted here and there with trees and houses. The sky is gray. There's a noise...

A train appears in the open area before us. It doesn't pull in, it simply is there where it wasn't a second ago. The train is made of some reflective material, we see ourselves in it, an ugly, unruly crowd, all pressing forward, all eager to be first on board. But why? Where are we headed?

I shove others out of the way, ascend the steps and stop...this isn't a train, it's my old schoolbus, and I'm a kid again. I make my way to the fifth row back, hoping no one notices me. More people file in and take their seats, none near me. I look out the window. Mom is out there, on the far side of a ditch overgrown with weeds, fumbling through her purse for a cigarette.

Jumping up and running out the door, I pause briefly to ask the driver to save my seat. He doesn't look at me and doesn't answer. As I approach Mom, I bend over and pick up the remnants of a long, barely-used foreign-made cigarette from off the ground. "Are you looking for this?" I ask, and Mom says, "Oh, I never smoke."

I wake up.

The cats sleep at the foot of the bed, a dog barks somewhere outside, the clock says it's 3 AM. I stumble to the bathroom, wash my face, pour a glass of milk and go back to bed.

And I'm immediately on the train again--it's definitely a train, not a bus--and it pulls forward, headed away from the faded green hills and the gray sky, to someplace blue and lively, someplace I've never been, and I feel strangely calm.