The beginning of the end

An afterlife in dreams

Come back. Even as a shadow, even as a dream. — Euripides

I can’t sleep at night. I sleep during the day. I turned life upside down. Right side up was killing me. At night I am ‘the ghost who walks,’ like my boyhood hero The Phantom. The cat walks with me. Together, we are night prowlers. I am a ghost in hell waving my gun at demons.

So I sleep during the day. Only in daytime, in dreams, does life return. The best dreams come during the day. Today, I was with S, the 21st day of the month. It was cocktail hour in the living room of our hovel and we were drinking. She was smoking a cigarette. I lit one up too.

“When did you start smoking again?” she asked me.

“After you died,” I said. “I started drinking more too.”

“I didn’t know that was possible,” she said with a wry smile.

“I didn’t care, you know.”

“I know.”

I told her I had opened up one of the cartons of cigarettes she had left unsmoked and lit up. That first drag was like a draught of a life lost, and found again, I told her, the life we shared, drinking and smoking, just having each other, a couple of misfits living in the living room.

“I know you hate sentimentality,” I told her, “but I just want to tell you, thanks for looking after me all these years.” She didn’t say anything so I continued. “And I’m sorry for the times I didn’t treat you right—”

She stopped me there and said: “You know what you call that? Thirty years of marriage.”

I told her I loved her, not missed her, because she wasn’t dead. We were as alive as ever, smoking and drinking in the living room. I leaned over to kiss her.

I woke up then. It was five o’clock in the afternoon. Cocktail hour. That’s when the profound sorrow hit me. She was dead. Cocktail hour would be without her tonight as it has been for three years and four months of nights to this day, the 21st of the month. But in that dream… in that dream we were together again.

Dreams are the door to the afterlife. The best dreams come during the day. Night dreams bring out the demons. Which is why I stopped keeping my gun in the bedside drawer. One of the demons. Bound to use it. And that would end all dreams of S.

We would both be in oblivion. No memories, no life together. As long as you’re alive there’s an afterlife.

So now I read through the night and sleep during the day.

To be with S.

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