It was a Dream?
I was uncomfortable. The man behind me had obviously not heard of personal space, and the women in front of me seemed to be carrying on more than a single conversation together with the help of their cell phones and unseen others. I sniffed, looking down at my shoes and the wooden floor beneath them.
Soon after dozing into a half sleep, I noticed the departure of the pairs of shoes in front of me, and I kicked into my buying-things-at-a-counter mode. Anxious to be out of the shop as quickly as possible, so as to be noticed as little as I could, I rehearse my lines in my mind as I shuffle on, fumbling in my wallet for money. I look up, and nearly have a heart attack.
Not only am I buying food, strange and unpleasant for me since I was a boy, but I have to buy it from the Woman. At this moment, she is the only woman I have ever seen, the only one I will ever see, the only thing I can see at all. I stand, offended at once for the interruption of my comfortable doldrums by her brilliance, and also by myself for lashing out at her with such a venomous reflex. I murmur out my order, too quietly, for she asks me, "What, sorry?" I say again, louder this time, and she whisks away to make my food. I am stricken with thoughts that she must think I am disgusting, compared to someone so perfect as her, and I am ashamed.
It takes her a few minutes to get my food, and as I hand her my cash I see the moment of exchange seared onto my eyes, a translucent veil through which I can try to grope my way back home. Before I turn to leave, I look back, and she is the only thing I can see clearly. I hang my head and stumble out into the daylight, the sidewalks moving on their own beneath my feet, the stairs of my building dropping away behind me, the world spinning as my door and I stand still, silently facing each other. I move to throw my keys on the table, only to realize too late that my food is in my hand instead. The bag leaps from my outstretched arm, colliding vase on the table, smashing it into the wall beyond. I stand there, the darkness of night unflinchingly marching towards me.
With my eyes closed, I feel my way to the couch and collapse, only too glad to finally have shelter from the world. My throat has a lump in it an my face is burning with a cold sweat. A calm arrives finally, and I drift into unconsciousness, dreaming a dream of motionless hands exchanging squirming paper, a wretched dance of deceit.
When I wake up in the morning, I find myself in my bed. The curtains are drawn, and my girlfriend is dozing lazily next to me. I shuffle to my kitchen to make some coffee, and while it is gurgling and sputtering away, I go to the door for the paper. The headlines are their usual mix of bad news, so I toss the paper onto my table to read later as I walk back towards the kitchen. Suddenly, I turn around, noticing something. My table is bare. This is wrong. I always have something there. Half expecting to find the bogeyman behind my table, I move slowly around it, and I see nothing. Nothing, except- what is this? It looks like a piece of pottery or something, maybe. What a curious thing, I wonder how that got there...