You told her you’d built the house.

She was in my old bedroom at the time, in her underwear.  She defended her indefensible actions as a way of confronting me, defense being her preferred mode of aggression. She stood on her hands, leaning her crossed legs on the wall. This disrupted the pile of books that had been stacked tidily, but she didn’t seem to notice. She yelled wildly between her poses and postures, pupils dilated and eyes wide. She waved her arms, hands punctuated by fists, muscles tense and striving. You sat quietly, ill at ease, on the edge of my old bed. She looked franticly back and forth between us, expecting your corroboration. “You never built that house! He did everything!” She introduced your material and technical skills as evidence. She dismissed, based on grounds of invisibility and immateriality, the notions of planning and organization. Also of paint, even if color did not fit perfectly into invisibility, one could get away with arguing against light these days, the political climate being what it is. Paint itself, when applied to a wall, was so thin, so insubstantial.

Her gaze demanded you join in, but you looked away and toward the ground, silent. Would you have to admit you’d lied? I wondered, but quickly decided that would be no revelation, in fact, it was the very premise and mode of attraction. This performance was the engine keeping things running.

I countered, describing the work I’d done, which I immediately regretted, preferring to leave you both to your storytelling, because I realized it was now impervious.

I shouldn’t have been in there anyway, despite it being my childhood home. I backed away and closed the door.

I scribbled notes in the dark with crayons on torn out sheets of lined paper from a spiral notebook, tossing each page to the side once I’d finished and starting fresh. I moved around the circle of children also drawing in the darkened pre-dawn, but then I spoke to my friend. “Go back to your drawings, there’s a code,” she advised. I rifled through the stack of papers I’d left on the floor, trying to remember something I knew I’d just known. “Remember to remember.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

 

She told me he was sick by way of explaining his behavior.

He’d been creating drama in his family, particularly with his wife.

I watched the eggs become firm in the pan and I moved them around with the spatula.

by Ravi Zupa

She said he knew his diagnosis and this was his way of being remembered.

The eggs began sticking to the pan, just a papery sliver of gold, I delivered the rest to a dish waiting nearby. I tried to remove what was left in the pan. The brittle sheets flaked dry pieces, nothing to salvage.

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

I looked through the window

from the darkened bedroom into the murky morning outside. Instead of looking down from the second story into the small courtyard below, there was now a roof top obscuring my view. It was a living roof, with regularly spaced  mounds of earth planted with grasses, not yet grown in, or dying off for the winter. Underneath the roof was a sort of pergola, also covered in half-grown, half-dead vines. This state of  new growth, halted prematurely for a wintry death, perhaps not planted with enough attention to the season. She built these things in the backyard of my childhood. Adhoc and browning, roofs without walls. These changes to the landscape of my childhood, the view from my old bedroom window.

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There were old campers, the kind I’d like to fix up and to clean. I was to ride in the caravan of campers back to you. Upon entering though, they were so old and rotting and I was to ride in them as they were. I wished I’d found a bathroom before getting on the camper. The space seemed unfit even for the excretion of waste. I had four dogs and a baby and tried to look after them during this transit. I bathed the dogs. As I ran my hand through their wet, soapy fur, I saw their pink skin, usually covered but now exposed. I thought of my son’s beautiful face, pictured it to try to recall joy.

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You rolled around on the bed absently, your eyes never focusing. Yet you clutched at her with familiarity. You spoke, to me and to no one simultaneously, explaining that everything people said about you or said that you’d done was untrue, but I knew that you were lying. I stood there watching from the foot of the bed. You thought things were ok, that they were going according to plan. You were jovial as you spoke, as was your way, perhaps a tell I’d never fully realized that marked a profound and intractable self-deceit.

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You rolled around on the bed, back and forth, clutching with eyes unfocused, grinning and lying.

 

Photos by Jung Lee, Robbie Lawrence, Aaron Blum

For @pleasuregardenmagazine