The sun was soft and sad when her eyes burst open, the dream spitting her back to the world. She reached for the open journal beside her bed, reached through her long dark wavy hair, letting the pen roll off, hit the edge of the night table and fall to the floor. Her brown eyes were glazed over with sleep, but wide and begging, eyelashes clumped heavy and confused - She propped herself on one elbow and read the notebook at its opened page, with an intensity absurd for a world still crusted with sleep. She frowned a little, her twisted mouth looking like a pout in the early morning sun, blanketed by wild rolling hair - witchlike in its dazzling untamed energy and passion. She tossed the notebook aside now, and stared at the ceiling, repeating the contents in her head, but the dreams edged their way in and she had to start all over. Erase her memory and begin again. Mornings like this, when the sun cast dusty streaks in on the hardwood floor, and her head pliable after a long satisfying sleep - she just wanted to cry, bang her head against the wall, and, even worse, go back to sleep where it could all just fade away. It was sleep that got her in this mess in the first place. Each day was starting anew. Blank, or as blank as she could manage. And she'd smile her way along, her tongue rolling away with the present, and when her friends fell to reminiscing she'd merely state her opinion on world politics or some other absurdity. But the memories would rise; she'd force them down and remember she knew nothing, nothing of her past. (And yet it was so easy to slip.) They merely had to ask what she did yesterday. "Oh, I left a café without paying and the waiter chased me down and tried to have me arrested but someone started taking pictures and the flash and the vanity blinded him and we were able to escape on scooters into Amsterdam."
Her notes read: Left café without leaving tip. Felt bad."
The problem was that she really remembered it. She knew it was a dream, knew it hadn't happened -
But when she thought of yesterday, that's all that came. They thought her a great liar as a child, took her to numerous counselors for her earnest and excited tales of purple elephants sleeping in her backyard. She learned eventually how to evade, or make it up, before they thought to lock her up - where she belonged, she reflected bitterly. Every night she'd lie in bed, since she was nine years old, with a desperate sadness, remembering the events of the day - as real, not mere recitation - for the last time. She'd replay them all in her head, treasuring each moment as though on her deathbed - And the day would be lost to her forever. She'd wake the next morning and memory would be replaced by the screaming frenzy of dreams. She drew a notebook out from the drawer, began writing - Pen soaring across the pages and ending with a slam of a period. She shut the book and refused to look at it as she hid it in the drawer again. That done, she took the other notebook from the table, and wrote down the facts. This book she'd study each morning, teaching herself her own life like a history professor. Patient and methodical. The facts. The other book - her emotions, reactions, thoughts - she feared that one. Could not stand to lose it all, but found it impossible to reread.
She knew she should study it as well, knew that emotions defined much of human experience, but refused. (She knew things so impersonally! Scientific study, Ideas remained - ) Instead, she made impersonal bullet statements in her reference book. "Could not find a parking space in front of the library. Felt frustrated for two hours. Rude in discussion with Amy about taking a weekend trip." Etc. (The way she remembered it, She'd gotten a ticket for landing her jetplane on the roof and they'd towed it to the Arizona desert. She couldn't find a way down into the building, so she broke a window and let her great-great- grandfather enter first, though he was younger than she. Amy had been wearing headphones the whole time and she'd started screaming.) Remnants of the emotions lingered anyway, but tinged with insanity and a frantic confusion - Nothing made sense, yet she remembered it with obstinate clarity. And so each day she wrote passionately, reflecting on everything and looking at each day as thought a lifetime - each moment precious, slipping away. When a notebook was full, she placed it in the downstairs closet, and locked the door. Somehow, understanding and facts filtered through the confusion. As though she had amnesia, and couldn't remember her name but knew with certainty the capital of Albania and how to solve binomials. Except she remembered her name. She remembered many things. It was just that they weren't quite true. If tonight she dreamed her name was Alfi, tomorrow she'd think she'd changed her name, perhaps. Well, that would be easy enough to deal with. She'd merely change it back, perhaps, + believe it, though forever in her memory would be that for one day, she was named Alfi. But she knew it wasn't true, she knew . Sometimes she wanted to just let go. Believe. Stop the painstaking work of recording and memorizing her life and accept what came to her. But she knew, she knew . right? Sometimes she wasn't sure. Still, she was aware of what people expected and accepted, and too attuned to society to release herself, to stop fighting it. So she yearned to lose her inhibitions, separate from society's conventions and live in that world of impounded airplanes, giant sea creatures in her high school, and of course the purple elephants. Longed for release, from the terrifying bareness of her life - A life defined by: "Went to the store. Flirted with the clerk (chunked blonde hair and sly eyes). Drove home. Lots of Traffic. Couldn't find any free range eggs." Everything real was locked in a closet downstairs, and she couldn't read it because it was the mere novelty of reading a diary of someone dead for centuries. It would break her heart to know how much she'd lost - If only she could free herself to love the dreams, to let it become her reality - But she clung to her pride and respectability, for now, it was all she had. And when insanity came, she'd welcome it - Grateful.