I smoke to stop dreaming. My therapist tells me that, after trauma, it’s common to feel numb, but what she doesn’t tell me is that every hour of the day becomes five in the morning. I wake up without falling asleep. Yesterday’s music is still there, somewhere, but the lyrics have since been forgotten, and only parts of the chorus can be recalled, hummed, heard. My thoughts resemble the texture of my bedroom ceiling; staring at it quiets my mind the same way babies are placated by their own reflection in the mirror. I can picture myself sitting in the backseat of my parent’s car at night, watching the bright flashes of headlights pass, the radio playing too dimly to be heard over the rain and the tires on the wet road. I’ve heard this song before; I can’t remember what it’s called. I need someone to turn up the volume. This is the dazed, pale-hued feeling that washes up, slowly, when someone tells me about a nonsensical dream they had. It’s the sound of too many sounds at the same time, the undetected static of a restaurant or cafeteria. In the middle of it all, I swear I can hear a song I used to know.
I smoke on the narrow porch of my apartment in bare feet while it snows hours before I should be awake and long after I should have been asleep, watching traffic lights change without cars. Yellow. Red. Green. Yellow.
Madison LaTurner is an MFA student at Miami University, and was so obsessed with Blue’s Clues as a child, they went by “Steve” for an extended period of time. Their work has appeared in Rune Bear Weekly and Ghost Orchid Press’ Home anthology. You can find them on Twitter @maddylaturner.