I am running through a brick town at night. Running next to me is – another me. We talk to one another as we run.
The other me speaks eloquently, her pink lips moving gracefully. I can almost grasp onto the feeling of her as my self, but I am out of breath and my words tumble out clumsily and excitedly. As I run through the town with the other me I feel for a while like this is the solution to everything. I think, I must be lucid dreaming, because someone once told me that in lucid dreaming everything that you want to happen will. I look around this place where we run and I think of it as a “brick town,” only because everything in this town is made of brick. Perfectly proportioned angular bricks with sharp edges. There are brick roads, brick sidewalks, brick buildings, bricks stacked high in the shape of lamp posts (no bulbs), leaning under their own brick weight, and brick doors on brick shops with brick signs reading “Brick Shoppe.” The streets are lit only by a blinding white moon.
I look mostly the same as her, really, only thinner. My hair is messy and knotted and I am wearing a flimsy, faded yellow sundress with rolled up grey leggings underneath, one rolled higher than the other. I am barefoot, and my skin is dirty. Next to her, I feel the weight of the dirt on my skin. I feel uncomfortably conscious of the dirt under my nails and the grease in my hair. Her face is plump and healthy looking and her skin is clean. She has darker hair and it’s curly and her eyes are a brighter blue. She wears eyeliner and sparkly pink converse that match the glossy pink of her lips.
We pass people as we run through the brick streets, past the brick lamp posts and brick stop signs. I know these people can’t see the other me and it must look like I’m talking to myself, but I don’t care. I am just so happy she is here. I guess I have missed her after all. But I cannot live in a town made of bricks.
Once, I decided that I would forget everything about my life and have amnesia. I haven’t remembered a thing since, and yet now here she is. Suddenly I have a sharp desire for her to leave me.
We turn a brick corner and when the other me turns another brick corner and disappears behind the bricks up ahead I am no longer running.
I feel relieved about it, but also sad and walking to the end of the sidewalk I put down some raggedy brown cloth bags and rest my head on them, laying in a loose fetal position. I look up at the tops of the brick buildings and at the sky. There is a single bright moon but no stars. I am still here in this place, with only one source of light.
I feel strangely void of thought. I feel a lingering pleasantness from the run but also a numbing sensation of pointlessness.
There is this suggestion in the back of my mind of returning home. The streets and sidewalks have been empty of people for what feels like a while now, but I suddenly notice a single wooden table only a few feet away from me on the brick road. The table is covered with wooden trinkets and behind it sits an old man with a friendly smile and a crooked nose.
“Anything you like?” he says in a raspy voice, somewhat high in pitch as he leans over the table to look down at me.
His smile makes me feel more lively and I get up from the ground, gather my bags, and go to examine the table. Everything on the table is made of wood. There is a wooden star, and a wooden sun, and wooden squares, and wooden rectangles which I think look like little wooden houses and little wooden streets. I feel happy with the simplicity of the objects and excited about the character selling them.
The old man reaches over the table to rotate a wooden tray with other wooden objects on it so as to point out a particular wooden object to me. It is flatter than the other objects, about as thick as the wooden streets, and oval shaped with a point like an upside down tear. He leans farther over and puts a gentle hand on my arm as he places the object in my hand. It fits perfectly. The inside of my palm hugs the smooth round edges of the wooden object so naturally.
I think about how I would like to get to know this old man, hear the stories of his youth, and become his friend and apprentice. I think, there must be a wooden town inside his mind to have inspired such beautiful little things. Things he crafted from material so beautiful and malleable.
“Do you like it?” he asks, sounding hopeful.
I look at the reverse wooden tear and think that I do like it and that I want it for myself.
“I can’t pay” I tell him, stroking it gently with my thumb.
He looks at my bags as if to ask for a trade.
“Blankets for when it’s cold” I tell him, “nothing else.”
“You can pay” he says reassuringly.
He rubs my shoulder as if trying to warm me but the summer air is already warm.
“I will close my shop for the night. You can come home with me and pay me there,” He says.
He begins to pack his wooden objects in a rolling wooden suitcase.
I think he must find me trustworthy, that he would leave his creation in my hand while he busies himself. I think I could just run away with my little wooden wonder, but I don’t.
He begins to pull the suitcase by a T-shaped handle.
I pull a splinter from my thumb and follow.
“I made it myself” he says, eyes twinkling.
I watch the suitcase bounce along the brick road, propelled by its lopsided wheels, imagining the wooden objects inside smashing against each other ceaselessly.
* * *
When I come up from under the covers he is already sleeping. I stay hovering over him for a moment on all fours, watching his peaceful breathing, then roll delicately to one side. I lay on my back next to him and on the ceiling I read the words: “Thank God For Oral” in squiggly black letters. The words shock me and I quickly raise my hand to my lips to check that I haven’t smudged my lip gloss. When I touch my bare, chapped lips I smile. I nearly forgot myself. I look back at the words on the ceiling and I think they are funny because they imply that I have not actually had sex with this man and that this is somehow important. I have to smother my laughter with my own hands so as not to wake him. Thankfully the words fade before I make too much noise.
I slide quietly off the bed and slip back into my sundress. I take the reverse tear drop from his night stand slowly and carefully, indulging in the sensation of it in my hand, enjoying it even more now that it’s mine. I put it in the smaller of my two bags, feeling grateful. The old man is sleeping peacefully and I feel glad. As I leave his one room apartment I wonder if it would be alright to stay, but decide that this would be imposing and close the wooden door quietly behind me.
The woman in the apartment to the right is peeking through a crack in her brick door. She has pink curlers in her pure white hair and a flat, pretty face. Her big blue eyes widen as I turn to look at her.
“Come back any time” she says sweetly, her face frozen.
Her expression and her cleanness remind me of the other me, how she might have looked if she had reached that age and seen a girl like me pass through a wooden door. She must be a very nice lady. Sad though, to live behind a brick door all your life, with a heart so easily troubled.


In a large, grassy yard with lots of kids of different ages an old woman directs us in a game of limbo. This is some sort of family reunion/ neighborhood get together and I think this woman is my great aunt. Everyone here is from my father’s side of the family or friends of the family. Many I have never met. Inside, my older sister scrolls through online dating profiles on the computer. We want to set my dad up with someone new. The house is a luxury condo with two stories and clean white tile floors. When a small girl with a red popsicle in her hand opens the glass sliding door to join the outdoor games I hear my sister tell my dad he should ask our family friend out on a date. He says something about how he’s not looking for anything like that; he’s happy how things are. For some reason I remember when he and my mother used to argue about directions whenever we were driving somewhere new.

A neighborhood girl who had just won at limbo sees me standing alone, staring at the opening in the sliding glass door. She runs up to me and drags me inside to the kitchen.

“I want to make vegetable stir fry.”

She whispers it in my ear seductively. I have never made vegetable stir fry before. From across the hall at the computer my sister gives me a warning glance. I imagine at this moment she sees me as that “typical guy” which, as a nice guy, I resent. I think about my girlfriend who isn’t here. I’ve had nightmares in which I cheat on her. In the nightmare I never know that what I’m doing is wrong until it’s too late.

The girl says she graduated college at 14, she is now 18. I am intrigued. She is not bragging, she says it as if it’s something that has left her feeling like an outcast. I hadn’t found her attractive but I start to look over her body and wonder what she looks like underneath her clothes. She says I should come visit her family condo and picks a weekend she thinks will be good for me to come visit. She says she’d love me to meet her parents but they will be gone on those days. This coincidence seems suspicious.

The girl picks up a pan to make stir fry, but instead she puts it to my lips. The pan is hot and my lips swell up. After a moment of shock I scream. The girl puts the pan down and calls 911. To my annoyance, my sister comes over and takes selfies with me while doing the “duck face.” I worry that my girlfriend will see the pictures and know what this girl managed to do to my lips. I wonder when the ambulance will come for me, then my sister comments on how the girl had only pretended to call 911. I feel like I should have known that, and the relief I feel burns at my cheeks. No one will come to try and fix this.