1 – Overseer – 9
I had a dream that showed me the inner workings of all dreams.
I was sitting invisibly inside a spherical classroom made of zig-zagging planks of pale wood.
It placed me inside a maze that takes an entire lifetime to complete. The change in location resets the mind, allowing you to accept all the changes that occur throughout. It’s all a trick created and run by people you’ve never met. Constructing dense symbols meant to deceive you. To have you search for something that can’t be found. In your dreams your mind moves around you.
Certain things happen so close to you that they disappear. Within the inner and outer sphere.
The most fleeting images are the most important.
Seen at a distance, for a short amount of time.
I was running around a world built like a fishbowl, seen through a fish’s eye, with a bubble surrounding me.
And then what?
The level of deception, of self-deception is escaping me. I was invisible to my own thoughts. I had to be or else they would’ve destroyed me. I knew I was in a dream, but I forgot once I found myself somewhere else.
I was able to change only the unimportant things. And have them come closer to me. Everything else would disappear the longer I looked at them. They were devising their scheme with yellow chalk on a green chalkboard. Layers of meaning:
Everything I saw was me.
2 – Overstellar – 8
Neutron stars will sometimes have mountains that are millimeters tall.
Tortured. By itself.
A few miles wide, where a teaspoon weighs hundreds of millions of tons. Dead and collapsing eye in the sky. Greater gravity creates a more perfect sphere.
Some stars collapse indefinitely, taking everything. Alpha and Omega. The debris they attract orbits so fast around them that they become white hot, giving them a shell that shines brighter than the star ever did in its violent life. They’ll shine so brightly that they’ll darken everything around them and make entire galaxies impossible to see. Existing in space, stuck and obscured in the distant past.
3 – Overseer – 7
My dreams are now more indecipherable than ever. They’ve become so long, with so many players and locations that it’s impossible to remember it all.
My subconscious must have known I was there in that initial dream. Or it had planned to put me there. And only offered me the illusion of control. But there seems to be only one clear way to read and understand the symbols I remember seeing.
The things I barely remember are the things I need to hold onto the most. The rest is just misdirection.
4 – Overpretender – 6
I think people are afraid of me.
How do I become the person I want to be?
How do I build a life?
Trying doesn’t seem to get me anything.
I get what I want, and then what?
I get to be remembered within nonexistence.
I unravel the greater mystery—and then what?
I get to live within nothing.
I don’t understand why things have to be so hard. And why I always have to do more.
Why is it so hard for people to connect with me?
I’m tired of being like this.
I wish I didn’t want this.
I wish I didn’t have to wish for things.
Why am I so afraid to show myself to people?
Who even am I?
5 – Overeater – 5
I think I understand now.
I need to stop
6 – Overrater – 4
I saw the face of someone beautiful as I was falling asleep. A flash of a still image of a woman I’ve never seen. I can’t help but hope and feel like we’ll meet one day. And we’ll both be connected to each other always and instantly.
7 – Overshiner – 3
I keep getting headaches in the exact spot where they lobotomize people.
A sharp point just above my eyebrow, where there’s a depression in the skull.
It makes my head feel empty, and then comes the flashing lights. The hot blue diamond light. My father says it’s stress related. And that he gets them. They come when he’s overloaded. And that his father also gets them, and for the same reason.
I can’t focus on anything when I get them. Something in my fovea is blind. And then something switches, and I have no peripheral vision. Only able to see the head of a pin.
All my luck was wasted on pointless things.
That’s why no one connects with me.
8 – Overnighter – 2
Sometimes at night I’ll walk around in the dark before bed because it makes me feel like an animal.
I used to be afraid every night that someone was going to break into my house and come and kill me. In sixth grade, my teacher was talking to the class, randomly, and said it’s OK to be afraid at night, of an intruder. Then her eyes bugged out and she said, but not if you’re afraid of it happening every night.
Now I’ll lie with my back on the floor and all the lights off and I’ll feel shaking. Is it the blood in my legs? My muscles trying to be still? Is it the Earth? Or the floor?
I put a pillow under my head. It has a pillowcase with faded watercolor flowers and lace around the end. The lace is coming off. And sometimes, in the dark, I’ll hit it with my foot when I walk and more of it will tear away. Tick-rip. Eventually it’ll come off completely.
And then what?
Why couldn’t you be someone I could love?
9 – Overwater – 1
I’ve been talking to the same person with different bodies and faces.
A puddle of a person.
I’ve been telling them things that I don’t believe because they are the only things I can think of.
They do the same thing.
We’re tired of speaking.
They see who I am inside and say nothing.
They see how I’m broken and empty. How I have nothing. And they don’t want to know me. Because they already see through me. And they don’t need another broken person in their life. Another little boy to babysit.
• – Overhearer – ¨
Ants leave behind chemicals when they walk so following ants know where to go. They blindly follow these chemical trails from the colony to the food. Some ants will get lost and accidentally walk around in a circle. And another ant will blindly follow its trail. And eventually there will be thousands of ants walking around in a small circle, each following each other, to nowhere. Then, one ant will break out of the circle and another ant will follow behind. And, eventually, the ant colony will slowly exit the circle, like a drying cycle, and they will all go back to work.
∴ – Overstayer – △
I haven’t seen you in my dreams. I thought I might have, but I can’t be sure. You were only there for a short time before you left, and I don’t think that’s a good sign.
I orbited around what could be you, standing on a hardwood floor. I followed you, walking. A couple steps behind. And then I was by myself, looking at two distinct paths. The destination at the end of each were both equidistant and equally attainable. The one on the right was one that I’ve imagined for myself and spent years hoping for. A place of recognition and admiration, where I could be among the beautiful people of the world, and where I might raze myself up to their level.
But I took the one on the left. And it led me to a place like the one where I first found you. Only you weren’t there. And there wasn’t any way for me to get back to the other path.
It’s usually a place where I see everything, but you’re a blind spot to me. If that is to be, I don’t want that life. Because I took the wrong fork in the road.
Or did I?
What does that mean?
What will truly make me happy?
I need you, but I’m afraid to show myself.
Do I want to be happy?
You have to be stupid to be happy.
– Overseller – ◇
I’m in control.
☆ – Overlooker – ★
I sometimes look at people’s faces and wonder what part I’m actually looking at. Because the face has so many parts. So then I’m looking at the left eye, the right eye, the nose, the mouth and it’s impossible for me to look at the face as a whole again, until I forget.
Who was it that I saw?
And when will I see her?
× – Oversharer – ※
I think I saw you.
You don’t like me in the same way I don’t like you. I didn’t want to be alone more than I wanted to be with you. I guess I wouldn’t have minded being with you. So why do I feel this way?
A loss of power maybe, thinking you liked me more than I liked you. Being wrong maybe. Even though I didn’t feel much for you. A lost opportunity, maybe. Another lost opportunity. More time wasted, maybe. All of it and nothing to show for it, maybe. We talked a lot, but you didn’t know me. I didn’t have a chance to say anything.
I just want to find someone. Or have someone find me.
I guess I just wanted something in my life to work out.
And have my life catch up with my dreams.
¤ – Overthinker – ∽
You said you enjoyed some of our conversations. Only some. How many is some? How many conversations did we have?
∂ – Overdramatizer – ∝
I'm not a man.
∞ – Oversleeper – ∝
I wish I could put stones over my eyes. I think it would help me sleep. Have them slightly warm and the weight will help keep my eyes closed. Or maybe something kind of concave like a shell so that it wraps around my eyes, that way I won’t get bags under my eyes. But shells are probably too light, so it’d have to be a couple small stones. And I’d have to balance them on my eyes, so I won’t be able to toss and turn at night.
I could put a warm towel over my eyes, but it would probably get cold quickly. Especially if it’s damp. The fabric would fit perfectly, over my skin, around my eyes. That might be nice in the summer. But then it’ll get warm from my skin, and I’ll have to unwrap it and shake it in the wind to make it cold again.
There’s got to be a mask I can wear. I could maybe put it in the microwave for a little bit, just to warm it up, not make it scalding hot. The parts that go over my eyes might be like thick rings that cover my entire eye socket, with my eyes in the center. It’d keep my eyes closed and I wouldn’t have to worry about it coming off, or any light coming through.
Or if I could take something that would help me sleep, but also not make me tired the entire next day. If there were some kind of button I could press, that would trigger something within me and make me fall asleep instantly. And then have my alarm wake me up in the morning. Set myself to sleep at ten and then wake up at six and have eight complete hours.
Without thinking about you.
∂ – Overcompensater – ∽
I step outside most days and stare at the crape myrtle. A caged brick of birdseed will swing on that pink tree with skeleton leaves. And then look to the lemon and palm trees. Until the wind wrinkles and swirls up through their fronds and leaves. It’s like what I imagine grass would sound like as it grows if we were able to hear across time.
How long have I been dead? Among these clouds that are whispering.
¤ – Overfisher – ※
Some fish live off the food stuck between sharks’ teeth.
Dreams present you with everything and you choose what to believe.
Why couldn’t I be someone you can love?
And why is it so hard for me to speak?
× – Overscreener – ★
I put my phone away, so I won’t try to hear for a silent ring.
☆ – Overcomer – ◇
That sudden, hot feeling of rejection, the kind that surfaces on my face and chest, fades faster now, which I guess is good. I look forward to the day when I don’t feel anything when something bad happens to me. I can’t think of anything I want to change. So then why do I feel this way?
– Overformer – △
I wish I could lie in bed all day and have my spirit exit my body and have it do all of the things that are expected of me.
The machine brings a person closer to the disease.
I have your ashes all over me.
∴ – Overprotector – ¨
I never chased you.
• – Over – ¨
Isn’t it strange how we die?
We all live, but then we don’t.
Constant motion, and then not.
A created life always ends in a lost life. They all begin with two cells coming together. And each cell begins when two particles coming together.
They end with particles coming apart.
And so on.
And then what?
Andrew Arthur is a writer and artist based in Silicon Valley, who used to work in special education before Covid hit. This past winter he received an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. His concentration was in fiction, but he also took numerous classes in poetry and helped publish Fourteen Hills, the grad student-run literary journal, while also interning at Journal of the Plague Year. His work can be found in The Collidescope. Forthcoming work can be found in FRiGG Magazine and Fleas on the Dog this Fall.