A terrifying thing happened today, and I’m only ninety percent convinced it was a dream.
I felt ill—that was real. I lay down for a nap. I lay on my right side so I could look out the window till I slept. It was windy, and a gull missed its landing. It fell between the billiard hall and the Dollarama, and I didn’t see it again. I watched for it, but my thoughts had gone all that swimmy way, one spilling into the next. It might’ve come back. I didn’t notice.
I thought about how I should call the doctor when I woke up, or tomorrow, renew my prescription for ondansetron. Ondansetron, that’s a funny word, more like a Transformer than a pill. I thought about that, and about the half-finished chicken sandwich in my fridge, and that melted into something like a dream, life drawing class, Granville Island, I don’t know.
It was bright out. That was real. That big, stupid ladder was gleaming in the sun. My eyelids got heavy, and maybe I was already asleep. I wanted to turn my head. It was important that if I died without waking, that ladder shouldn’t be my last glimpse of life. Only, my head wouldn’t turn. My vision narrowed to a slit, a slit with a line down the middle, that dumb fucking ladder to the end.
I tried to move anything, a finger, a toe, but it had all gone offline. A tiny part of me scrabbled to preserve itself, squeaked and yammered for help, but I could hardly hear it or feel it for the great weight on top, this cotton-bale of exhaustion in my skull.
I thought this is death? I felt my skin go cold. I might’ve cursed the ladder, but then I was swimming in a brown, silty lake, and that was definitely a dream. Quite a nice one: it was warm….
Maybe it was that sleep paralysis thing. But isn’t that on the other end, when you’re waking up?
Maybe it was a punishment. It felt like a punishment. Throw your life away, and here’s a ladder to stand your last vigil, not friends, not family, but this ghoulish thing, and what could it be but a monument?
I mean, I’m still alive. It wasn’t the last thing I saw. But it could be, one day. Probably will be, if I die in my sleep.
Vinni lu tempu di lu me rizzettu,
Lassu stu beddu munnu e lassu tuttu.
Why did they put that there?