Upwards Over the Mountain

The bed is a cruel joke. Videos and posts and typing, oh my. The burning edges of my eyes make me squint and rub them to tears. A sigh of exasperation escapes, a signal of defeat against an overwhelming enemy. Another car drives by in the empty black night. The computer screen drowning out the filtered in streetlight. I vaguely wonder what my family is doing. Sleeping? Dreaming? Sobbing uncontrollably with their head in their hands? Sorry, I get confused. That’s what my dream was, I think. I’m pretty sure, no, scratch that.

I was being strangled. Cold, dead, wrinkled hands. The stench of rotted flesh and moans and dragging feet all around, grabbing everywhere. It was horrifying. It’s the same dream I’ve had at least once a year for the past 20 years. The empty, decrepit buildings crumbling all around, the zombies staring with pinpoints of light emanating from their eyes. The same one always grabs my arm with its vice grip for hands. The thing is so old the color of its skin has become a greenish hue. It reeks of meat left out in the sun for weeks, of promises and love lost, of beautiful children laughing and running through the fields, the wind in their hair. This thing is none of those.

It looks at me with promises of pain and anguish and pure, unfettered hatred. They’re all around me, they’re all so hungry. They reach out and push forward, each wanting what will never satisfy them. The yearning and emptiness oozing in their moans and shuffles as the certainty of a meal is before them. The one with the vice grips is right in front of me, staring into me with those pinpoints. It opens its mouth; the stench is magnified. I watch its jaws close, see the teeth carve out my flesh as if it were an apple. Blood pouring from the open wound, the others become frenzied with the smell of the blood in the air. It’s staring at me with my arm in its hands, chewing my flesh in its mouth, my blood running out of its mouth and dribbling down its chin. The others surge forward.

I lament the water I left in the living room. I remember having a good sleep pattern; I forget what it was like to have a restful sleep. The feeling of invigoration permeating throughout every little piece of you, bringing smiles to sleepy faces as the sun shines on their cheeks. I want to have my mangled spirit carried in the arms of a giant. I want to bask in the sun with the wind at my back. I want to hear the river as it rushes by downstream, bringing with it the certainty of passing time. I lament the single pillow that lies haphazardly behind me.

I daydream the endless possibilities of a love lost, of a love won, of a love uncertain in its newness. All shaky legs and hungry mouth, frail in its infancy. The awkward arm that you stick under the pillow as her hair tickles your nose. The stinky mouthed kiss upon waking. The promise of an uncomfortable shower, deathly afraid of slipping and falling. Of dirty dishes and arguments of pure frustration. I reach out and touch the empty space that should be you.

No more tears tonight, no more sobs. No more empty spaces, no more whispers of delights and closeness. No more. I want to shut the computer off, slam it over and over until it fucking stops. Rain down my fists of hammering fury until my skin breaks free from the knuckles, until my blood is spattered everywhere. All over the walls, all over the sheets, all over the broken bits of computer. I think my smile would slowly peel back from my teeth, then. I think the laughter would echo off the bare and empty walls, an opera barren of all semblance of melody. “A war cry”, a little laugh mixed in as I say it aloud.

I want to stop playing this song over and over. I want to shut my eyes, to not rub them repeatedly. I want peace and calm to invade this hostile battleground. I want to sing it to no one and everyone, stand on a car in the middle of traffic as I scream with every bit of me. I want to scratch that itch I can’t reach that’s started only because I began thinking of it. I want to drop all the things I carry, just for a while. Let the cumbersome façade fade back to where it belongs. I want to cry until the morning.

Another car passes by. The dull ache for vapid conversations in yet another recondite coffee shop littering the damp landscaped hills that is Seattle. A longing for missed phone calls and annoying text messages filling your inbox. The strum of his guitar alludes to none of those things. It fills my heart. It fills my soul. Don’t worry about the weekend; another party to feel out of place in. Slightly out of synch with each step. A second behind every opening in the conversation. Hesitant to interrupt the friends and obsequious smiles. My teeth just aren’t that white anymore.

I start the song over. The dulcet tones and plucks of the guitar I’ve memorized only recently. I sing along inside my head in beat and rhythm to the music. I can see Mike saying, “Every time. Every single goddamn time.” And Sean “I know man. I know.” And Ricky “I know, I know. It is pretty shitty.” And Ana, crying, “Maybe next time, ok? Maybe next time that will happen.” And Josiah “I just want to talk about it. That’s it, that’s all.” And I remember all those little things that are really big things. Every single thing; every single person. I start the song over again.


©Joey Velasco


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