Uma Gowrishankar and Hildie Block

Uma Gowrishankar

Dream  ( acrylic and mixed media on paper )


Just a Bad Night 

By Hildie Block 


 “But you said you didn’t want to,” she looked alarmed.  “You said this is what you wanted.”

“That’s not what I said,” he was spitting mad.  So angry his body could not contain him.  So angry he wanted to hit something.  So angry he could bend steel.  So angry he wasn’t sure what he might do.

“It’s what you meant.  You said you wanted to be normal.  This is how it happened.” She was calm and to the point.

“Who said you are allowed to read my mind???” Now he was screeching.  But the sound echoed in his head and almost didn’t sound.  “You can’t read my mind. You are wrong.”  The “G” in wrong echoed like a bell toned.

“Am I?  Well, now that you asked, I do have a signed contract.”

“With whom?”


He paced slowly around the floor.  “I don’t remember this.  I don’t remember this.  I don’t remember this.”

“It’s okay.”

“No, no it’s not.  Show me the paper.” He puts out one hand.

“Okay.”  She hands him a thick stack of stapled papers that have materialized in her hands.  They bear the creases of being folded in three. “Happy?”

“No.  Not happy.”  He looks down, flips the pages, feels like he is looking through them.  “What language is this in?  I can’t read it.”

“Here.  You need your glasses.  Put them on.  It will be clear.”  She hands him a pair of thick black rimmed frames.

“WHAT?   Those aren’t my glasses!”

Clark, maybe you better sit down.”

 There’s a pause.

“I think.  .  . I think . . . I think . . . I’m lying down.”  He starts to fade.


“What?”  He looks like she disturbed him with her answer.  Suddenly surprised to see her there at all.

“Yes, you are.”  She cocks her head.  “You are lying down.”

“I don’t understand.  Lois?”  His voice is panicky.  It starts to come back to him.  “I can’t read?”

“You don’t get it do you?”  Her face softens.  She looks almost sad, sympathetic, concerned.

“No.  No, I don’t.  I don’t get any of this.”  He turns.  He tosses.  His head burrows into a pillow.  The scent of musk and sweat meet his nostrils.

“I just wanted to fly.”

“I’m not sure you did.  You signed the papers.” Lois starts to pale to nothingness in the morning light.

A crushing noise sounds. 

“What’s that????”  he startles awake.  Jumps out of his skin.  His red blanket falls to the floor.

And just like that, another day begins.

His wife wonders why he seems so sad this morning. Just staring down at the Sports Section, and eating his cereal automatically.  Robotically.  Rhythmically pushing his glasses up on his nose.  Eat, eat, read, read, push, drink.  Repeat.

“Just quiet,” she figures, and wonders if he is coming down with the cold the kids have.  His students find his puns without their usual zest for life.   He grades tests slowly and methodically, but almost like he’s not reading them, not there.  His car starts when he puts in the key. There is no line at the bank.  His drive home takes 15 minutes and no one cuts him off.  The cops aren’t even manning the speed trap this day.

He unlocks the door, comes in and no one rushes to ask about his day.  He’s still quiet, so she asks when he comes into the kitchen.

“Bob, you okay?”

“Yeah.  Just a bad night’s sleep.  You know.”

And he looks up at her and sees Lois’ same sad eyes staring out of his wife’s face.  And he closes his eyes behind his glasses, and wishes, once again. That he could fly.

But he could try again tonight.

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