This is from something I'm working on, sort of.

 I helped my bandmate move his old couch into his new apartment this afternoon--the couch that used to occupy the attic we used to hang out in all the time back in high school. That couch was old. That couch had stories to tell.

Once we'd finished he offered some beer and we sat on the new couch--the spoils of victory--and my friend put on some Radiohead.

"Man, this takes me back," he said. "I remember the first time you came here and introduced me to Radiohead. I was hooked from that weird wind at the start of Planet Telex."

"Except, I didn't bring that album. I brought OK Computer."

"Are you sure?"

"Does it matter?"

He shrugged and said, "I guess not."

Of course, it did matter. That had been the day my friend got it in his head that we should be in a band, and talked me into talking my parents into getting me guitar lessons. The actual band didn't materialize until I'd come back from college, of course, but it was a big day, and one of us didn't actually remember it, which meant that in all probability neither of us did. How many times had we told that story? How much had it warped in the telling, until our memories were just of the stories we'd been telling?

The vision came to me then: the two of us in high school, working on some homework or other. I dig around in my bag for my math book and find the CD I picked up earlier and say something like "You want to put on some music?" and we do, and we probably even enjoy it. But there is no big moment. The album is incidental to the question he asks me later: "Wouldn't it be cool if we were, like, a rock band?"

We shared stories for the rest of the evening, but I found myself doubting all of them, his and mine both, and no amount of alcohol would shake this nagging doubt.


street lamps

There's a street light outside your house I keep mistaking for the moon. It's the right color and shape, and it's in the right place in the sky. Every time I leave at night I see it hanging there and for a brief moment I'm ready to smile, to feel as if the moon is guiding me home. I always identify it soon enough, of course, and it could never guide me any further than the street.

Tonight I found myself wondering if you were to blame, as if you had set this up to punish me for my wanderings. Perhaps if I didn't slip away once you were asleep, this false moon wouldn't be here to mock me. Or maybe you set it up to keep me here. Did you hope I would circle it like a moth, captivated by its soft cold light? Does it worry you that I have never woken up next to you, that I leave you alone in the dark to find my way home?

But tonight the false moon was not false. The street light hung in the air above me even after I had walked past it, as if you had planted a real moon there--and it must have been you, right? Who else could have, and who else would have? I was so startled I considered running back and waking you up, asking whether you were trying to send me away or guide me home. But as I stood and stared at this strange new moon, I realized the distinction was largely semantic. Either way my path was laid out before me, and my steps would take me back home.



I spilled bleach cleaning the house the other day, and it seemed to drain the color from the little patch of floor where I spilled it. I tried mopping it up with a sponge but it seemed to just spread, until a whole corner of the kitchen was paler than it used to be. I put the garbage can over it and hoped nobody would notice. I had a reputation to maintain. Not that I entertained anymore.

I slept easily, woke up, and got ready for work the next morning, only to find that the metal stopper in the sink was curiously pale. And I thought that was odd, but what could I do? Maybe metal just turned pale sometimes. It wasn't as if it looked bad. Then I noticed that the shower curtain had faded as well, and then I started to worry.

As I made my way to the bus stop I noticed that everything was losing its color. The grass, the trees, the houses and buildings, all had this horrible fade about them. Like I'd spilled bleach on them, too, trying to clean up after you. By the time the bus faded I couldn't tell what color it used to be. What color is a city bus meant to be? Are the seats really that sickly pale green color?

At work I spent about thirty minutes working before it was too much. I told my boss I was feeling ill and spent the day hiding in the clean white sterility of the bathroom. Eventually the automatic lights turned off, and I curled up in the dark and slept uneasily, dreaming alien dreams of color.