Ah. Young love. The passion. The romance. The drama. Love usually has a way of helping us to embrace people for everything they are and aren’t. And as demonstrated by Judge’s story (a magnificent young man who no doubt has a bright future ahead of him!), alcohol has a way of exposing our deep dark truths–especially the ones we try to hide so we can be more loveable. But perhaps the combination of both could be the catalyst for change that could lead to a brighter future–and maybe a better love. Please enjoy,
The Dream Between the Night
by Judge Chase Katz
It’s a long drive back from Solana Beach. My girlfriend and Brook are both drunk. The freeway is hauntingly empty, and I struggle to stay awake. When I feel like falling asleep, I hop into the conversation.
“Of course, I don’t want kids,” Brook says. She doesn’t slur. If I hadn’t watched her do three shots, I wouldn’t know she’s drunk.
“Why not?” I ask, “You’d probably be a good mother.”
“I have too many medical issues,” she says, “I have diabetes, there’s a history of cancer on my mother’s side.”
My eyes dart to the burn-like skin creeping out of my shirt cuff. I lean off the lance-wound on the back of my thigh. “People’ve had kids for worse reasons.”
“Riley, you probably shouldn’t procreate either,” slurs my girlfriend of two years. It’s not too hard to tell she’s drunk.
Brook chirps in agreement.
“Now, Daniel—that’s a man who needs to procreate.”
I think but don’t talk. I listen to Brook and Lys as if passing by strangers talking own their own. Every little bit I hear makes things worse. I tune them out until we get to my place. Beachfront property. Revetments on a retaining wall. High tide filling up the rocks. Rain swirls motor oil on the streets. We park, and I laugh as I get out of the car.
“I probably shouldn’t procreate.”
“Honey, I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Tell me why I shouldn’t procreate.”
“That’s not what we were saying,” Brook says.
“Nothing worth passing on, huh?” I cut my fury with an ironic tone. “If you think Daniel’s so great, why don’t you procreate with him?” I slam shut the car door and storm down the alley. It takes a few tries, but I get my key in the hole and barge into my apartment.
“We didn’t say that,” Brook says.
“Riley the invalid!” My teeth flash and my pulse raises. “Better not procreate with him.”
I shut the door to my room, turn off the lights, and fall into bed. The door creaks and Lys kneels and sobs at my bedside.
“I would never say that, I would never say something like that…”
I roll away from her, onto an arm eaten by dermatitis.
“But you did.”
“I would never, I would never…”
I tell myself not to forget to the anger.
“I would never—”
I tell myself never to forget the anger. I think of slapping her, but she’s drunk so I have some mercy. I turn back, grab her by the shirt and pull her close: “Either admit you said it or get out of my fucking bed.”
Her breath is uneven. A streetlight flicks on outside and she jolts. The room turns silver. She’s afraid but I don’t care. I roll back onto my right arm while she cries on my left. The beer on her breath keeps me awake. I’m utterly disgusted. It’s an hour before she sloughs off me and I finally get some sleep.
* * *
Brook is in my bed. The rain is falling backwards outside. She smells like motor oil. She gets the smell on me as she runs her hands through my hair. She apologizes in more ways than one, and I know it’s wrong, but I don’t stop it. We go until morning, until it’s pale and grey.
I wake up feeling dark inside. I don’t like that dream. I’ve never felt anything for Brook. Maybe I dreamt that to get back at her. I stop myself from remembering its details. I forget that it happened and get up.
Sweat and dew cling to my skin as I walk down the hall. They’re both gone. The futon is back up and the sheets are folded in the cabinet. It’s exactly as it was before they got there.
There’s a voicemail from Lys an hour ago. She says wants to talk.
I sit down and think of last night, but it somehow feels too distant to remember. Like the dream was months ago and the night months before that. I get a little existential and think about the difference between memories and dreams; but it’s nonsense. So, I kill the thought and then I call Lys.
We meet at Lestat’s that afternoon. A café with red adobe walls. I watch the people go by and taste the anise in my coffee. I tell Lys about last night but not about the dream with Brook.
She tells me she and Brook don’t remember anything.
I’m at a loss for words. I struggle to accuse her or believe her. I hold my head as I start to doubt last night happened. I start to think it was more dream than memory. I start to think of what I did with Brook. I start to think I should forget last night.
Then I remember the anger.
And that’s the last time I consider forgetting anything. Not the night, not the memories, not the dreams.
I look at the abscess scar on my wrist. I look back in her beady black eyes. I say, “Of course I’ve forgiven you. But I’ll never forget what you said.”
I could never look at Lys the same way again, but a few days later and she’s smiling back like always. I guess she didn’t hear me when I said I wouldn’t forget. Guess she thinks I’m smiling at her.
* * * *
Breaking up is hard to do…looks like Lys never got that memo. Or listened to oldies.