She gently nudges him on his shoulder, trying to get him to roll off his back. He only snores when he sleeps on his back. The sound is like a far away two stroke motor, and he is running rich tonight. I just need a couple solid hours, she thinks, rolling back and forth, finding no comfort in his queen sized bed. Maybe I should sleep on the couch.
My current place is a place of darkness. There is something sinister, unknown. Drool drips from the end of its cartoonishly long front fang. I can’t really see this. I just know that in the depths of all that’s sinister, this upcoming demon, whatever event is about to befall me, the darkness has fangs glistening due to overactive salivary glands. Salivary dally, as the drip of spit hangs surreally from the hair splitting tip. I dread the dream world. She’s asleep already, breathing in that way that people do right before they start snoring, though I know she won’t. She never does. I wish she would, so I could be angry, I could roll her over, push her away, struggle against something tangible.
She’s on the side of the road. Temperatures soar, the air over the desert is visible, wavering. Small rodents burst into flames if they hop quivering into the sun. Nothing alive is visible, save herself and two-ton cacti, engorged on monsoon waters. They know how to live here, they know that the water window is small and only open briefly. The road is so smooth, not like New England roads, which heave and grind with every freeze, every lusciously cold winter. The desert is not the place for her. She’s rail thin, and incapable of retaining much water. How did she get here? Why, she thinks, am I wearing all black?
The landscape is essentially beige. It is dotted by dead scrub, and off-tan outcroppings, occasional buttes. The road, unbending, disappears into the landscape, absorbed by the dense air. She knows that she occupies a specific location only by the fact that there is this segment of road before her. Suddenly, a shadow begins to emerge out of the haze that the road dissolves into. It grows steadily taller, and the vertex of her eyes’ intersecting lines of sight becomes less and less acute. In the shimmering, the object is tough to discern. It looks like a man, flying just at road height, bearing down on her. It is a man, a man and machine, a man dressed in black leather, riding a motorcycle through this abyss. For a quick moment, she contemplates how to occupy herself, makes to look busy, and then ceases this ridiculous action. There is nothing to hold in her hands but sand and spiny things, no crevices to inspect, no place to hide. She doesn’t know how she got here.
I am imagining a cocoon of darkness, my body tightly wrapped and swathed in black. I know I must transform, but at this stage am afraid of what shape my wings will take. Will they be leathery, unwieldy, hairy? I hope for lightness, for color, for patterns and eye spots and delicate appendages which demand a day of drying in the sun. What I expect, however, are wings I will be ashamed of.
Next to me, she mumbles a little. The words are unintelligible. Who is it in her dreams, the caterpillar of a monarch? Of a gypsy moth? Of Darwin’s moth with the ten-inch proboscis? She rolls away from me and quiets. The walls around me are pulsing in and out. I can feel it, pressure rising, pressure dropping. I try to match the pressure inside my lungs, in-out, out-in, let the room take over breathing for me. It doesn’t work, and now I can think of nothing but breathing, and I’m paralyzed, I don’t know how to breathe, and I’m sure that there is no longer any oxygen in my cocoon. I’ve expanded too greatly and there is no more room available for the gas.
Now, without intermediate travel, he’s beside her, bent over the handlebars of his loud bike, steadied on one foot. The motor is undulating in pitch and velocity. It seems alive, and he faces forward, refusing to turn his head towards her. He is an appendage of the bike, is not himself alive, is not a person. She climbs on behind the rider, the motor takes a deep breath, and roars, causing the landscape to blur and finally bringing air to evaporate the sweat on her forehead. She sees nothing but tan and blue, separated by a horizontal line, and the shiny black orb of his fully enclosed helmet in the middle. They are flying, straight as a laser, and, she realizes, along a similar parabola; the road is falling beneath them, and now in front, the horizon line is dropping, faster than it should be, faster than the road. In fact she can see it now, the road ends, the land ends, the whole world ends and they are careening off the edge of it, and falling. The motor roars with no resistance from the road.
Snoraack, kkeh, kkeh. She’s landed in bed next to him. He’s sawing logs as usual. She’s breathless, the impact has knocked the wind out of her. Frustrated, unnerved, she heaves on his shoulder to lift and roll him off his back. Jarred free of my cocoon as I’m rolled by some beneficent force onto my belly, something which sensed the predator prepared to snack on my chrysalis. But I realize immediately that my benefactor was no one but she. I rotate my face through the pillow. “Was I snoring?”
“No, it’s OK. I was having a bad dream.”