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Dreamer of the Night
Sometimes I like to make dreams out of the stars. I lie on my back gazing up at the night sky. The empty barrels of a dried out pool lie beside me, and I dangle my board into its depths. The wheels still spin from the trick that had just dumped me onto the concrete. I should get up but I'm distracted by the orbs of light that hang like street lamps all above me.
"Put more weight on the front of the board next time," say Lyle. He does nothing to mask his satisfaction in my mistake. He comes up the side of the pool beside me, precariously close to my head. "Lead with your shoulder. Like this - see? See?"
Since he had grinded all the way down the rail of the Civic Center's front steps last week had made himself out to some skateboarding god - all powerful and all-knowing. I have already planned to grind down the railing myself later tonight just to shut him up.
"Man! Nick! Are you even looking?"
I peel my eyes from the sky to look at him. He repeats the trick, wobbles at the end, but lands smoothly. I nod in approval. Clap my hands. He looks at me all squinty-eyed as if debating if I'm being genuine. I am. Kind of. In the end, he bows shortly.
"Now, come on! Get up! Get up!"
I am mocking him now and those eyes of his squint deeper in his narrow face. "Serious. I can't beat you lying down. For real."
"You can't beat me standing up."
His reply is one of his favorite four letter words and 'you.'
I snort. "You really are not a fun person to be around."
He feigns seriousness. "That's not what your mom said."
"Dude, that's not even funny."
"I don't know, man. Just get up. Are we going to skate or what? My gran wants me home by midnight."
The night stretches up and endless all around me. Pressing down. I breathe in the darknes. Choke on it. It's in my lungs. In the upper ridge of my mouth. In my eyes. In the beating of my heart.
I push myself up onto my elbows, suddenly and utterly exhausted. I'm hugged by the heat of summer, and words melt restlessly from my mouth. "In a minute. Lyle, tell me what you dream about."
His reply is instant. "I dream about Mary Chaplin's thighs."
My frown tugs heavy on my upturned face, and Lyle, standing above me, will probably mistake it as a smile. "No. No. No. What do you really dream about? What keeps you up at night because your mind is busy with, with the weight of it all?"
He's silent for a moment. A scrawny kid in white-washed jeans ticking his board against the rim of the pool. And I worry that I am the one that's not fun to be around. A moment and then a cut out grin.
"Mary Chaplin's thighhhhs."
Oh, he thinks he's so clever.
"Whatever," I say. "Never mind."
He doesn't understand what I'm asking. I don't think I ever understand it. I just know my chest is full of faraways galaxies. And the weight of it makes me feel like I'm miles underwater. How awful that dreaming can feel exactly like drowning.
In the pause, Lyle has been knocking into the tiki torches. Watching to see if their light changes. Restless. Restless as the depths of my mind. "What do you dream about, Nick?"
It's my turn to question his sincerity.
I don't have to think about it. It just simply is. I dream this swimming pool belongs to me and the house that's coated in darkness behind it. A dad that hadn't left with the toaster and all the dollar bills from the swear jar. A mom that still laughs and smiles and eats. A life that is more than what I have.
I se all the things I want in the stars overhead. Faraway, but so bright. So very bright.
"That I had better friends," I say. Sheepish and tired and drowning. "Come on, let's go somewhere else. This is stupid anyway."
We leave through the front gate like thieves making a clean getaway; we've stolen the night. We ride down the middle of the road. Out wheels eat up pavement and black and aspirations. The street is quiet, but my mind breaks apart stars. Explosions erupt. I dream.