The Ghosts of Loves Unfinished

“Know this thing for certain,” these the first words he forms in his mind as though they could be spoken when he wakes in the dark, though he does not actually speak, “Dreams will always betray you and how you think things are going.”

When for weeks life was workaday, now those things whose constance was assured and assented to have been summarily brought back under review by the subconscious committee and rejected for fitness in one decisive motion.  In a meeting held as he slept, no less.

His compromise with life is to operate on scale.  His new job could be worse than it is.  The fact that it is better than his last job gives him a solace that will, for a time, function in lieu of success.  His wife is loyal and loves him honestly.  When he imagines his wife’s love and the love of the woman he had let come before as neutral red foam bars rising up from the ground beside each other as though they are part of a bar graph quantifying and comparing the two varieties of intimacy and relationship, the sum total of his wife’s kindness and honesty stands very noticeably taller than hers, the one he had committed to before,  she who was brilliant but prone to boredom, who had been very adept at digging him hollow like a native’s canoe when his jokes and drinking were no longer funny and paddling him ably up shit creek.

Dreams will not re-read the pages of chapters written to their finish and ask what might have been.  Here the length and breadth of the betrayal of a dream is limited to wistful remembering, a fresh taste of the variety of loneliness that that one left you with unameliorated by time or rationalization.  The worst these dreams can do is sit on your chest like a succubus until you’ve shaken their weight off.  But that weight will always come off.  Demons you have exorcised will drop in for tea now and again, after all, but abide by a politeness not observed in that first breaking and entering.

When dreams team with the phantasms of loves that end by no impetus more robust than circumstance, however, there is the formula that dissolves the palliatives binding prosaic life like an enzyme, a perfect equation suited to the task of digesting the patchwork of acceptance of the way things have become until it appears ragged as resignation.

The dream brought her to him again, she whom he had been happy enough to see off, in whose bon voyage he carried little enough outward culpability, in the acceptance of whose departure he bowed to finance and a nascent career he wasn’t particularly interested in.  She, too, young as she was, shrugged off the blow, apparently.

“I’ll never know.” he speaks aloud this time, lying on his back.

Greater than the hunger that is now awakening in his belly, and harsher than the weird lack of the caffeine his waking mind is beginning to crave, he feels the want to stop the feeling that he’s been absolutely thorough in his life only in the pursuit of the wrong thing.

Almost all of his regrets begin with ellipses:

…and that’s why I have to go to work in an office every day.
…and that’s why I’ve never been published.
…and that’s why I’m not free now to do what I want.

Only one of them, this morning, begins with gold blonde hair and eyes as big and blue and portending of a coming lack as they were once present and tangible in one summer in his life.  Only one of them makes him crave to hear French spoken to him early in the morning as he heard again as he was sleeping that night.

“J’embrasse, mon petit coeur.”

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