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HUMAN CONDITION

“Last night, I dreamed about my mother. She was wearing a hat made of yellow flowers. It wasn’t sitting on her head, it was snug around her ears like a bathing cap. Another funny thing, it was glowing.”

But Reva isn’t interested in hats, glowing or not.

“Do you dream about her a lot?”

I think about that for a moment. Define a lot. “No, not so much. I wish…I wish I dreamed about her more.”

Reva scribbles.

It all feels way too heavy. I rush into speech.

“What a week I’ve had! Not bad, I’m not saying bad…but not great either. Good and bad. That’s every week I guess.” I grin, winsomely I hope. “It’s just…sometimes things get to a person, you know what I mean?”

Reva nods.

“On the happy side, Bitsy started to crawl.”

That earns a smile from Reva. A smile, a point.

“We’re putting all our breakables away…in drawers, high on shelves.” I flap my hands, distracted, feeling better.

“Well,” says Reva, “that’s quite a…”

“Yeah, yeah, a big step. A milestone.”

Bonny, known as Bitsy, is very sweet. “She crawls on her stomach,” I say, “arms and legs pumping. She looks like a turtle…in a hurry.”

I wait for Reva to laugh, but she just scribbles. Too much scribbling with a serious face. It’s worrying me. I feel like a stand up comedian who’s bombing.

“So what’s going on with the universe?” I say.

Reva lifts an elegant eyebrow. With the money she’s earning, probably professionally done.

Okay, okay, I don’t know what I meant. Silly question. I shift on Reva’s comfortably upholstered couch, realize I haven’t been breathing for a while and suck in air, feel it streaming through my mouth like cool water. I swivel my shoulders, trying to relax them.

“What do you need from me?” Reva asks.

“God knows,” I blurt. “But He doesn’t exist, right? So nobody knows.” Now that’s a depressing thought. Shit, in another moment, I’ll be weeping. “So, a bathing cap made of yellow flowers. Not the weirdest thing you’ve heard, I’m pretty sure, but still…I wonder what that means.”

Reva smiles gently. “What do you think it means?”

“Oh, give me a break,” I say.

“What could it be, a hat made of yellow flowers?”

“No idea.”

And suddenly it’s back, the weight is back. It’s forcing my shoulders down, curving my spine. Talking is not going to lift it. Watching Bitsy crawl is not going to lift it. Having my mother back is not going to lift it. Nothing’s going to lift the weight of life, the terrible weight of everything I fear.


“Human Condition” was published in Fictive Dream.


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