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Awake in Dark
Apricot was dreaming of his girlfriend again.
In his dream, she had a sassily swinging orange ponytail, coral lips smeared with lipstick, spiked heels, hands on her hips, swaying like a Slurpee being poured. In his dream, he and her were at the Crippled Panther Nightclub in downtown San Francisco, listening to a terrible band called Bipolar Lizard Love trying to sing the blues. That was the night they met. Sadly.
Was it really only four years ago, or was it four hundred? Apricot didn’t know what had gotten into him. He was a hot-faced, college-aged, guitar-playing, lady-loving, poetic bum, and she was pure smile and grace. While he tuned his guitar and Bipolar Lizard Love filled the air with screechy microphone sounds, he fell deeply in love with the girl—this coveted girl—who was trying her best not to look at him. At the end of the night, he got so upset that he punched out another guitar-playing bum for the privilege of taking her home. The other bum pinned him to the floor and whacked him with the guitar, but Apricot couldn’t care—he had the girl, and nobody would take her away. The world had to know it!
Yes, it was a stupid beginning to love, but it was love. He was sure.
Four years raced by. Apricot had dragged her before the judge, got her a diamond necklace, got into their house, and then they had a baby boy named Ashie. Apricot never admitted it, but he and Baby Ashie had a secret love that she was outside of. He would run Baby Ashie’s hands over the piano and the guitar. He exposed that baby to the top 40 hits before his eyes could cross.
“Take care of your mommy, Ashie,” he whispered to that colicky baby. “My sweet, only child…”
Soon enough, the laughing stopped, and then came their screaming…the fights…the stomping out and coming back in…the holes punched in every room of the house. Apricot shivered until he couldn’t stop, thinking about that time. If only he could go back and change the past!
“Honey!” Apricot woke up, all alone in his huge, dark house. “Honey, come back!” He had just woken up from a dream that they were kissing on the Pacific shore, while Baby Ashie played in the frothing green waves. “Honey! Honey! STOP—”
He wasn’t trying to stop the dream. He was trying to stop himself from waking up.
He had dreamed that they were together, and now he woke up, and she was gone. He childhood teddy bear lay beside him, but she was gone. And she wouldn’t be back again. He grasped the teddy bear and cried, like a little kid.
He had always been too late. Three months ago, he had just come home from playing music with friends, only to find her cold and dead, an empty bottle sleeping pills beside her. The frozenness of that moment, and the feeling of phone buttons in his hand, would always stay with him.
Apricot stumbled out of the room and got little toddler Ashie out of his crib and held him with all the love he had left. “Daddy?” Ashie said, sleepily, “when’s Mommy coming back?”
“Just go to sleep,” said Apricot, and even though he was the daddy, Baby Ashie was making him cry harder. It was just the two of them in the house—not a large world at all.