by Yasmine Lever
Last night I dreamed we got into a brutal fight.
Back at acting school. The same classroom arranged in the same way. Folding chairs stacked on risers. In the playing space a plastic table pushed against the wall. Beside it a blue bookcase, bottles of colored liquid lining the shelves. Two twin beds standing side by side. Only the signs that used to hang from the yellow walls were absent. “Trust your instincts.” “Risk failure.” “Don’t think." Instead they were graffitied in black and gold pen all over the olive-green bedspreads. In my dream I was eighteen, the same age I was then, but you were older than thirty-six. You wore a Harley Davidson biker jacket, and a rainbow-colored top hat. We were doing an acting improvisation. but because the improv was between the two of us, no teacher sat behind a desk looking on, telling us to stop if things got out of hand. And things did get out of hand. The fighting escalated, I’m not clear what the argument was about, but suddenly I rose, I pulled a knife out of my navy pea coat pocket, and I attempted to stab you in the chest. You looked momentarily jarred. Then you laughed and slapped me clean across the cheek. It didn’t hurt. Not one bit. We wrestled. Even though I’m half your size I happened to be the stronger one. I pinned you to the ground. I pressed my Doctor Martin boot on your stomach. My boot happened to be sparkly red, the same color as the ones I bought my niece for her fourth birthday.
“I could kill you right now if I wanted to.” My tone. Altogether reasonable.
Then I screamed “Why? Why? Why? Why did you let me go? Why didn’t you stop me from walking out on my future?”
I felt like I was acting in a soap. I threw the knife across the room and fell to the ground in a sobbing heap. You crawled across the linoleum floor and stroked my hair. And even though I threw the knife away and didn’t touch you, I noticed you were bleeding from the wrist. The blood streamed from your wrist down your palm but didn’t touch me or the ground.
You smiled at my startled expression. “It’s ok honey.”
“Get up now and walk towards the door. I promise to stop you.”
“Why are you bleeding when I didn’t touch you?”
“Because you seem to need proof. Proof of how much I have always loved you.”
I must admit I have never been a fan of subtle gestures.
You motioned with you hand for me to walk.
“Now’s too late.” I said. “I’ve already wasted my life.”
“How many times do I have to tell you that time is simply a bourgeois illusion?
“The decades of self- harm? They never happened?”
“Yes and no.”
Your features transmogrified. Weight melted from your frame. Your messy, gray beard disappeared. Your red skin returned to a paler hue, and you joined me in becoming the ages we were then. Eighteen and thirty-six. You, the teacher now sat behind your grey desk set at an angle dressed in jeans, a checked shirt and cowboy boots. Brown, sad eyes, large, with longing, like a child waiting for a present that never comes. Me, the student, sat on a chair nearby wearing a leopard printed mini dress, my DMs black. We smiled at each other in the silence. The entire class oblivious to all the feelings passing back and forth.
Then you mouthed words at me. You mouthed them but I heard them as if you had enunciated them in crisp, clean diction. The exact same words my four-year-old niece with the red sparkly D.M. boots had said when she couldn’t find me in a game of hide and seek.
“You are such a good hider. Much better than me.”
And I looked at the signs once again hanging from the yellow walls.
“You are such a good hider. Much better than me.” These words written in bold black on every single sign.