My ears heard the ‘copter so I opened my eyes. When my vision settled I watched it fly through my sight line in the air above the branches above me. I rubbed my eyes’ corners to get rid of the nap. My fingers slid down to degrease my greasy nose. I itched with my fingertip the grime behind my ears and brushed it away til there was less dirt left.

So now I’m awake again, in a park, not at home, and not refreshed. Nothing dreamed and nothing come to think of clearer through the power of a power nap. All I’d done with my day was make a Christmas list of gifts for my family and friends. In a few months I’d have to buy it all, but I’d be very ready. My family wouldn’t have to worry what to read til April, an old friend would get a record of a band I like, and I’ve evened it out pretty well where everyone will get the same amount of money spent.

The sun got hot while I was in dreamland not dreaming. There was cloud cover when I closed my eyes, but now that’s all gone, explains a little sweat. The helicopter has its twirling blades keeping it afloat on the sky and I wonder how much the riders are enjoying their view. It crosses across the hot sun and it crosses above the river. If I could fly it I’d be a daredevil and give the passengers a harmless scare, unless we crashed. Soon it’s far away and I can’t see it well enough without binoculars.

I’m surrounded by trees up a hill away from the main walk of the park that goes along the coast where the river opens to ocean. I sit up and roll to a stand up so I can take the hill down to the shore path. I brush against trees and stand still while dogs and owners pass first. I kick a stick successfully. It goes into the woods. I kick a rock too. I couldn’t locate where it landed. My shoes look tired, like the feet inside them feel. I twist my ankle on a root I forgot to avoid, but not enough to sprain.

By the time I pick my eyes up from my steps I’m at some rocks that have some waves coming after them one and another and again and some more. When I look at the waves crash on a sunny day like this I feel next to nothing. It doesn’t remind me of the power of the ocean, or of the danger, or of my place in the world. I have to remember those things afterward, when I remember how it used to make me feel those things. I hear the crashing, it’s the sound of noise; just something in my ears cause something’s got to be there, cause I have the ability to hear. It doesn’t take me back to gathering shells on the beach as a kid; that’s something I have to generate later, or it may take a movie scene to remind me that it should have reminded me.

I throw a rock at a wave and miss the point it breaks, but hit behind it. I throw a few more out to the horizon line while wondering how it stays so straight. I really thought today might be the day I’d snap out of it. It’s so pretty out. I know it for sure. Even went so far as to chant along with my music on the way here, “today is the day, today is the day.” Maybe tonight is the day. It’s time to go to the car.

I had parked on a hill and I feel my body want to fall forward as I get in my seat. I remember the first time I used my parking brake was in a dream. And when I got out I walked up the hill instead of down the hill and woke up. I probably should have used it in real life this time.

The drive home almost sent my car following my eyes into the woods whenever my attention caught. I felt the urge to spy on end of vacation kids hunting for fishing holes. Almost jumped out my window when I saw a doe with a shot shot through the side of its hide. The faster it runs the quicker the blood escapes and closer to home it can die. I pull over to check how far off we are to hunting season and get distracted that I got a text.

I blink and when it’s over I’m accelerating. My hand holds my shifter even though it’s an automatic. My palm is on her kneecap and a memory takes hold, or a desire for a future. Before I place which it is I’m home, hopping up the narrow staircase while every neighbor’s door closes in a music of knobs twisting, thuds, and locks at the end.

Past the kitchen, common space, roommates open and shut doors, I enter my bedroom. Piles of clothes lying on the floor like I left them there, baggy because no body. My mom used to call them lily pads and clean them up. I wanna hop from naked floorboard to naked floorboard until I can reach the white covers on the mattress on the floor as a reward. Instead, I take a swig of the last Gatorade I left on the dresser, grab cash, and place the flavor based on the color. I feel the sugar circle around the drain underneath my throat and lightning flash to the tips of my limbs.

I take the same route out that I took in, but the neighbors’ doors have unlocked and opened. One’s doing one-handed pushups while giving me the finger and I get jealous when he claps and switches to the other hand and finger. “I wanna smell like Sprite!” the cute little neighbor girl tantrums at her parents as she applies lemon lime soda behind her ears and on her wrists. The college kids at the top of the staircase burn their mouths on pizza and punch beer cans to cope.

So now I’m downstairs and outside again and I walk past my car. I text my friend that I’ll be there in 10-50 and slow down. I’ll get over the river thanks to the bridge. I walk closer to it with all my movement. Cars slide by fast, but then we keep the same pace and they stop. The bells ring and the bridge goes high. The top foot of a sailboat goes by my feet level. I watch the weights shift and the bridge come down to reconnect towns. I get excited for drinks and apps as the cars pass me again.

In the middle of the bridge I brush the railing and it stops me. I climb my stomach onto the railing and feel the pressure apply when my feet get off the ground. Across comes rivers underneath me and I spit til it hangs til it drops down fast. On the way down it gets all windy and washed up. My spit gets distributed throughout the ocean and I say, “That’s nice” and think how happy I am to think so.

 

Niles Baldwin

Niles Baldwin studied writing at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME. He currently writes, works, and lives in Kittery Point, ME.

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