Shipping the Gods of Sitcom
I knew them better than my own family. The mother unlike any mother I'd ever experienced. Her beautiful arm clears the marble counter. Hestia. The piggish brother squeaks from his neat and orderly room. Someone has returned him to human form. Circe. He was Castor and Pollux, for they like to cast twins. The youngest, carried about emits ignored warnings, a baby repository of folk reason. Cassandra in cribs. Several dangerous sisters, arrayed like marble on stairs and
couches. Tightening their hair ties. String. The fates, the fatales. Everyone coming into the room,
sprung from the forehead, fully groomed. Fathers in formation with temporary allies: one
neighbor, one friend, one co-worker. At night the screen is the width of my over-sized torso. My
face pixilates into Medusa. Stuffing six kernels of corn into my mouth I wonder what they will
have wrought for me this time. The last words of the oracle: No Talking Spring. Maybe missing
a comma. No talking, spring. All my life I've wanted an altar. And a laugh track.
Once I had a job writing blurbs for dreams. I worked out of an office in the old Time/Life building, second floor. Underneath was a trainyard, though few used that kind of transportation anymore. The trains wailed on their way out of the station, as I laboriously poked at my computer's many missing keys. I can hear, but only badly mimic that mournful cry. All the ticket offices were either closed or not real windows, instead made from bed frames and fire escapes. Over my desk a fan rotated, creating irritating shadows I'd try to brush away, as if they were cobwebs. The city displayed out the office window was like my town but also not like it, some city from a childhood board game since we like to give children the illusion they build their own home.
My parking spot was up a steep lot, and I often went in by the exit, causing others to honk and yell. If I had to leave for an appointment, all manner of obstacles sprang in my path. In one direction streets were torn up, alleys abruptly went blind. Sometimes I'd end up trying to steer a broken trike while an angry or annoying or simply there-for-the-ride companion, whom I barely knew or cared about would comment and judge. Important people showed up en route, people I wished to impress or find a solution to, even members of my own family but they seemed not to hear me, though I'd always find myself running after them, sidelining penguins and umbrellas along the way.
My clientele skewed older, though occasionally a teenager would burst in with a powerful request. They seemed to feel their age made it more important. If they knew what kinds of things the adults came up with, they'd blush. It was tense work since the client had the right and even the necessity to tell me the whole dream, often in excruciating detail, but then go back over it for all the parts they'd forgotten. Descriptions defied their limited vocabulary. They tried to explain matters using various metaphors, often with mixed results. They'd shake their heads over disturbing elements that emerged quietly, like a long-ago childhood companion dragging a stuffed animal. Those animals can bite, too. In the dark corridors where no one wanted to go, the oft-times naked client urged me to open doors and walk down streets. I didn't want to do either of those things, but I needed the work.
I tried to get them to see the beauty in even the most outlandish dreams, but I wasn't the author, I just wrote the blurb. I'd lie down on my couch, since prone was how I worked best. I knew from experience even if I'd recorded all of our sessions or taken excellent notes, the dream would begin to fade, dissolving into smaller, fainter and more transformed elements, like ash disappearing into the sky from a passionate fire. I'd write "startling" or "important" or "it voices what we all wish we could but can't." Sometimes my pen turned into a stalk of celery or a snake. Without a doubt, this process was frustratingly antiquated. Still, as I unlocked the door to my office, or an office similar to mine but with different furnishings, a long line would have materialized, extending all the way down, as far as the eye could see. People stood, waiting patiently, a tale in their hands burning for a comment from someone other than themselves.
Merridawn Duckler is a writer from Oregon, author of "INTERSTATE" (dancing girl press) and "IDIOM" (Washburn Prize, Harbor Review) Recent flash in New Flash Fiction, Penn Review, Janus Press, No Contact, Molecule. Finalist at the Mid-American Fineline contest. She's an editor at Narrative and the international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics.