all's quiet on the western front / by laurel

No posts today (except for this one, that is). I'm buried under a deluge of projects right now, but keep checking back because I'm doing a shoot on saturday that will knock your socks off. In the meantime, here's another excerpt from the fiction I'm working on.

"It’s later now and I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming now, fast asleep and dreaming of walking along the ocean. Except it’s a gray day, it’s not bright and pale the way it usually is, and there’s no horizontal light in the distance to remind me which way is up. There is only me, and there is the ocean, but the ocean is aggressive, it’s eating the shoreline, one bite at a time, so the shoreline looks like an apple that’s being devoured, and as I’m walking along, I have this vertiginous feeling like I’m walking upside down, or sideways, like I’m in the womb and I’ve never seen a horizon line before so I don’t know which way is up. But I don’t fear the ocean, because, like being in a womb, it’s as though I’ve never breathed air before, never used my lungs, so I don’t fear the ocean as it nips at the shore because all I know is this upside-down feeling, this watery purgatory where I’m walking along the ocean and there’s no horizontal light in the distance.”
The man sitting next to me at the DMV looks at me like I’m crazy. “That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard.” 
I guess it is. I guess I am. Crazy kid. Fifteen years old and batshit crazy. Well, la-dee-dah. Everybody dreams, I want to say to him. Unless your heart is black and shriveled and dying inside of you.
But I say none of this. I shrug, and I let him walk all over me with his dismissals and his giant mole-like freckles and his black New Balance shoes. 
I allow my eyes to relax, to become vacant, to stare without really seeing. I stare at the brick wall ten feet away, but I don’t see it. Instead I see the horizonless horizon, the blurred grey line of vapor and uncertainty. The woman sitting two seats to the left looks over. And looks away. And looks over once more. She leans toward me slightly, like she’s going to tell me a story. And then she does; she tells me a story and I listen. I listen without really hearing. 
“Two months ago, I was on an airplane, sitting in the middle seat. I hate that middle seat—I specifically asked them not to put me in a middle seat, but they did. They did and I had no choice, so there I was, on my way to Florida to go to my 20-year high school reunion. I thought, am I crazy? I’m 37 years old, and I’m flying back to Tallahassee to see people I didn’t even care about the first time around. And I looked down, I looked down and realized I was holding my cup of cranberry juice, and I was squeezing it, like a pulse, just squeezing the cup gently. Contract, release, contract, release. The ice shifting in the cup and the juice sliding over the ice, submerging it, and I just kept squeezing, and I thought, Well. At least I know my heart’s still beating.” 
“Mmm-hmm,” I say politely.
Then a voice on the intercom crackles, “120. Number 120.”
I gather my belongings and walk toward the voice.