Ny-Quil Dreams?

by Kelson Vibber

A cough? A sob? A sharp exhalation. A woman, hidden behind upright walls and closed drapes, high above the street in her apartment. Does she choke on the dust, blown in by the hot, white wind? Does she cry in anguish? She collapses on her bed, burying her face in the soft warmth of the comforter. Fuzzy. Blue. She walks to the bathroom, seeking the medicine cabinet. In the mirror is a round face with brown, almond eyes and black hair. No, hollow blue eyes, drawn cheeks, red hair. She opens the cabinet slowly, reaches in, lifts out the Ny-Quil. The TheraFlu. The vodka. She pours herself a shot of the watery green liquid. Stares at it. Her reflection behind, distorted, red/black hair tinted green. Carefully, hastily, she draws the glass to her lips, tilts her head back and swallows. She clutches the blanket — pink — tears soaking the folds. The room whirls, she falls into everlasting blackness. Faces. Friends. Enemies. Ex-lovers. High school teachers. A flamethrower — a high-powered rifle. The sixth floor of the Dallas schoolbook depository. Gunshot. Awake. Fear. Eyes wide. A presence in the room. A fearful presence, him, a... soothing touch. A voice, familiar. It will all be all right. A box of Kleenex. A thermometer. A temperature. The sick days used. A shoulder. Home. Mother. Hot tea, hot chocolate. Twist of lemon. It will all be all right. The window closes. I walk on.

April 1996