Twice on Sundays

This idea is just beginning to form in my head:

I found myself wearing a borrowed face. I squinted as if I could see more clearly see the reflection of myself in her. The squinting didn’t help. I looked at her as if I had known her all my life, because I had, because she was me. Or we were me.

I was pulled into the mystery of her like an undertow. My mind screamed to swim vertical with the shore, but my body bobbed in her intoxication. I worried that if I surfaced for breath that she wouldn’t be there when I came back under the water. I held my breath, drinking in her enigma. I blinked away the sea, but never took my eyes off of her.

“What’s your name?” I asked through raising air bubbles.
She answered not in words. I think her name is my name, because we are me.

I feel weak. I stare at her for strength. I’ve been holding my breath for so long. I don’t know if I can hold my breath any longer. The current is too strong above my head, I can’t get air. I have no access to air. I see panic on her face. My lungs have written on a white flag, calling for surrender.

Her feet kick in blunt forceful rhythm. She is getting closer to me. I am getting closer to me. We are touching. The lack of sound is deafening. It is just us caught in this undertow. She kisses me, but only to answer the call of my white flag. Air is swirling in my mouth and down my lungs. I am drinking her in.

I hear a buzzing. It is a lifeline. It is my lifeline. The nurse is calling my name. Do I know my name? I want to swim in the undertow with the girl who wears my same face. But she tells me not to follow her. She pulls away from me and points to the surface. Her lips mouth “go.”

I look up and see a light, the sun maybe. I look back at the girl with my face to say goodbye, but she has already gone. I kick the water away from my body until I touch the sky.

“He’s back. We got him,” says a nurse when I open my eyes. I hear the ticking of the lifeline sounding like a heartbeat.


Well-Known Member
Seems interesting, but I can't really comment without a clear idea of what's happening.
“Talk to me,” the nurse says. “How are you doing?”
She’s looking at me. I think I should answer, but I don’t know if water will come out of my mouth when it should be words.
“Tell me your name,” she orders me.
I know the answer. I keep looking at her, wanting her to be the girl from the undertow. She isn’t. I must come back to reality.
“Easton,” I say.
“Welcome back, Easton, you had us scared.”
“Who is us?”
“The doctors, other nurses and the researchers, of course.”
“The researchers?”
“Do you know where you are, Easton?”
“I think I’m lost,” I say.
“You aren’t. You are exactly where you should be,” the nurse, in matching blue scrubs, says.
“And where exactly should I be?”
“You are an active participant in a government experiment; I monitor your medications and make sure you are comfortable while you are kept in bed.”
“I’m not allowed to leave my bed?”
“No, Easton, you aren’t. You haven’t been able to for a long time now.”
“I should have just stayed under the undertow,” I say.
“What? I don’t know what you mean,” she says.
“It seems like my dreams are better than my reality.”
“That isn’t the first time I have heard you say that. Sometimes your medication gives you temporary memory loss, but you always come back.”
“Good to know. Can you humor me then, and tell me a little more?”
“Sure,” the nurse responds. “What do you want to know?”
“What’s your name?”
She has a bubbly laugh. “I can certainly answer that. It’s Raleigh.”
“Raleigh, how long have I been here?”
“Two months.”
“Did I volunteer to come here?”
“Your parents volunteered for you.”
“Are they getting paid to send me away?”
“They are.”
“What research are you doing to me?”
“We are examining how your body reacts to being bed ridden for an extended period of time.”
“Why is that of interest?”
“All of the details are above my paid grade, my job is to make sure you are healthy,” Raleigh says.
“You know more than that. Come on, this is my life,” I plead with puppy dog eyes.
“They are studying the effect of a body being broken down.”
“Well, this has been a very depressing conversation. When can I return to her?”
“Who’s the her?”
“The girl from the undertow,” I answer. “If you give me more medication will I see her again?”
“Trust me, if I had the power to control dreams, I would always be vacationing on a beach in mine. I think you need to pick that fight with your imagination, Easton.”

And with that, she left to check on other patients, I assume. The girl didn’t seem like a dream. She was so real and familiar, like I was staring at my soul. I want to see her again. I want to see her every night. Or maybe I already do. I can’t remember what I am supposed to forget and what I’m supposed to remember.

I close my eyes again to see where they open.

I adjust the backpack that carries all my belongings. I packed it, but I do not know what it holds. I keep walking on sand colored rocks. Boulders beneath my feet shift under the weight of my backpack. They shouldn’t shift. They are boulders, mighty and unyielding. I am not mighty. I yield to my backpack and its contents. What are its contents?
I slip my arm through its strap and gravity swings it toward my other shoulder. I rotate my body and rest the pack on top of the boulder, commanding it to stop moving. It stops moving. I keep moving, pulling its closures open.
What’s in my pack? What is my life made up of? Chopsticks, I packed chopsticks. Six pairs of underwear, only six, no more no less. I know I will wear the underwear both inside and right side out. I keep unpacking and find an empty cereal bowl, tarp, twine, a stuffed toy dog, a flute and matches. I feel nostalgic and decide the toy dog carries that feeling. I rip the name tag from its collar and throw the toy. It disappears into a crevasse three boulders from me and my pack.

There’s more still in my pack. I dig deep and pull out a handful of snow. It starts to melt in my hand, but my bag is not wet. Then a wheelchair, I unfold the chair. I lock the brakes in place. I look at this place. Boulder after boulder stack in fallen jenga block order. There is no variety in color, all sunbathed tan, but no shape mirrors another. Something is taking shape. It’s running toward me. It barks. The dog is no longer a toy. I yell to the dog to stay and it does. I want to unpack in peace.

I am surrounded by the contents of my pack—of my life. Everything and nothing I pack surprises me. My possessions aren’t me. Yet, they are everything that makes me up. I both want them all and want nothing to do with them. The weight of my life is too heavy for the sandstone. Why is this boulder made of sand? The hourglass never stops. I wish it would stop. The sand is disintegrating into itself. I grab at it like cookie crumbles, trying to keep it together. I cannot hold it together.

There she is in fading sandstone. Her face is the fog in the trees, the wave in the ocean, and the snow flake of the mountain. She is a part of the big picture and the picture itself. Now, I want the sand to fall. I will be closer to her if the sand falls. Its disintegration is exposure.

The more I see of her, the more I see of me. She is both a soul mate and a mirror. I don’t want her to fall, but I’m afraid I have fallen. I am in a tornado with only one direction. My belongings are encasing me in my fall. I want none of them. I want her.

I slip my hands into my pocket, trying to form a still body. There’s something in my pocket. I rotate the object through my fingers, letting it slip up and down like a poker chip. It is cold to the touch. There’s an engraving. It is engraved with letters I know, but I do not know the order they make. I keep trying to interpret its letterings like someone is writing them individually on my back with their finger.

“Q,” the first letter is a q. It is capitalized. There aren’t that many words I know that start with q. If it is English, and I think it is, then “u” will follow. My fingernail confirms “u” follows “q.” I am still falling. I have been falling, but she is still within my sight. I am not scared of the fall. I only want to know what comes after “u.” Please let me uncover the word before my fall ends. I do not know where I will end.

I feel relief. I figured out “i” follows “u.” Next are two letters that are the same. Or one letter that matches itself in symmetry. It is a name on a dog tag. I say it out loud, “Quinn.” She nods yes. I will call her Quinn. I stop falling, but I know it is just the start.

I haven’t opened my eyes yet. My mouth is dry. It tastes like desert feels. I swallow, forcing new saliva to quench its thirst. There is still a thirst. I lift my covers to creep out of bed so I can go down the stairs to the kitchen for a glass of water. An alarm sounds. Then I remember I am not home. There is not downstairs kitchen. My nurse comes in.

“Is there something you need?” Raleigh asks in the doorway, approaching my bed.
“Water,” I say. I want to say life, but I only say water. I want to say to run, but I only say water. I want to say independence, but I only say water. I want to say a way out, but I only say water.

She hands be a glass full of water from the table next to my bed. The straw finds its home I my desert mouth and I flood it with room temperature water. I avoid her eyes. I should have known the water was next to me.

“Are you going to ask me why I didn’t realize the water was next to me? That I should have known the water was within my grasp?”
“Do you want me to ask you that?”
“Is this what we do, answer questions with more questions?”
“Does that bother you?” she asks.
“You’re doing it again.”
“What do you want?”
“That is the biggest question in life,” I say. “What does anyone want?”
“Do you have an answer?”

She will only speak to me in questions. I want to be spoken to in answers. I gulp down more water, as if drinking all of it now will never cause me to thirst again. My thirst will never cease, but never will my effort.