The Gown Becomes a Carpet
clearly remember the dream I had last night. That's unusual for me, and I'm
writing about it now, before it fades. I do wonder what I should be taking
from it. There is a persistence to the dream that feels structured - an
unsettling sensation to me.
I seem to be remembering a lot of unimportant things this morning,
things that seem unworthy of true reflection. But they do resonate with me.
Dreams are the memories of the last resort, I suppose. There's a certain
trippy aspect to vividly remembering things that you've never experienced,
and it seems to me to be a valid type of reality. At least as much as my
typical comings and goings. This will be the first dream that I've recorded
in my journal. How many dreams is a lifetime full?
In the dream, my
clothes were so loose, they seemed as though they were trying to fall away.
I know that this is a type of dream I often have, dreams about disorder and
unraveling, but I rarely hold them long and clearly enough to write them
down. Until now. I'm breaking through. Why now?
I was wearing an oppressively heavy beaded wedding gown with an
impossibly long train, and I was losing it, the dress weighed so much that
it was falling away from me. It was everywhere on the floor. It had become a
rich, white carpet, and then it was the carpet.
I was in a huge loft. Maybe Adam's Morgan? I didn’t really recognize
the surroundings, but it seemed to be where I was living. So unreliable. The
mind rushes to fill in details.
The loft was littered with all manner of things, boxes, bags, and small
piles of objects like paperclips and toothbrushes and coins all over the
floor. I had so many chores that I needed to take care of - things to pick
up and sort through and put away. I was unable to make any progress. The
work kept increasing, the piles kept multiplying. I was rushing to and fro.
My family was there, and all of my friends, and my co-workers, and
people that I did not even know. How can you dream about people that you
don’t know? No one seemed to notice how hard I was struggling to stay
dressed. No one would even look at me directly. They would glance through
me. I could hear them but they couldn't hear me or see me as I moved around
the room. No, they could see me, but they acted like they couldn't. They
were all talking about me, though. Everyone was calling me Linda, and I felt
like I was a ghost, like I really wasn't there. No one has ever called me
Linda before, always Melinda. They are two different names.
Lex struggled to get into his new cubicle, nearly tripping over a heap of
his own possessions in the process. The contents of his office - his
computer, files and keepsakes, his CD changer, his coffee cups – had all
been moved to this passageway, some time in the middle of the night. The
crap was blocking movement in or out of the small space. Little piles of
things like paperclips and pencils and pushpins littered the floor. This
used to be Melinda's cubicle, but she is in the process of moving to a
bigger one. Most of her things are still inside, however, and Lex supposes
that it will probably take her all morning to get this space cleared out. He
can’t even think about starting to move in.
Not that Lex is in any hurry.
Melinda has just been reassigned to Harry Johnson's Knowledge
Management team. It doesn't matter anymore, Lex thinks.
Now Lex will occupy Melinda’s little corner of the workaday world.
Truth be told, it is kind of cozy back here. Among the other benefits, no
one will ever be able to come around to his desk again without setting off
Lex walked past the door of his former office - there's a Dilbert
cartoon pinned up now, a really stupid one - and headed out into the hall.
There were an unusual number of people gathered around the TV monitors this
morning. The monitors were suspended from the ceiling, dispersed throughout
the first floor corridor. A lot of the people were standing rigid, seemingly
frozen in place. What the heck was going on? They were staring at the
television screens, completely mesmerized.
Lex paused in front of a screen and looked up. Good Lord! Some idiot
pilot has crashed a commercial airliner right into the middle of the World
Trade Center! Holy fucking shit! It was pandemonium. Lex could scarcely
believe his own eyes. It was a mind-boggling disaster. Jesus Christ, could
anyone still be left alive on that plane? And what was happening on the
inside of the Trade Center? Flames shot out of the windows in daggers. God
Damn! This is an unbelievable sight. That building must be completely
trashed. Lex watched the images flicker over the screen for a full three
minutes before moving on.
Lex took the double flight of stairs down to the smoking area. It was a
beautiful sunshiny day, cloud speckled blue skies with a warm breeze
blowing. Still summer. Lex was unable to appreciate the fine quality of the
day, however, because he was personally cloaked in a heavy shroud of
depression. Those clouds again, forever overhead.
'I am so screwed', he thought.
'Why does it always have to be me', he thought.
'Life is so unfair', he thought, and then for a brief moment, he
realized what a total frigging cornball he was being. And then he let that
thought wash away.
Somehow, Lex had begun to think of Fungal Propagation as a good idea
rather than as a good joke, and as long as that was the way he was
interpreting the situation, he had plenty of reason to feel persecuted.
'I am going to crash and burn this time', he thought.
'I can't take the heat and I can't get out of the kitchen', he
Lex abruptly recalled the catastrophic images he had just witnessed
inside on the monitors. Now there was something that was truly tragic. That
was true horror. Mind-boggling. Not like his petty situation.
No, life was not at all fair. He had been disrespected in this place
for so many years… he felt that his spirit had been trapped like a firefly
in a mason jar with no holes in the lid.
'Poor me', Lex thought. Oh, he felt like a sad little Lexter. 'Poor me.
Pour me another one'. He chuckled to himself at this; it was one of his all
time favorite lines.
Lex looked around for someone to commiserate with, or at the very
least, some group of people that he could stand at the fringes of. He
noticed Melinda, smoking a few yards over to the side, and thought of
walking her way, but she appeared too distracted, and he had a gut feeling
that he really shouldn't bother her. Lex watched Melinda as she smoked. She
was staring far off into the distance, past the pond, past the trees.
Maybe Melinda was upset from having heard about the plane crash, he
thought. Or maybe she had been watching the coverage. She struck him as
being an awfully sensitive girl.
Or maybe she was upset about having to move all of her things to a new
cubicle. He bet that she liked it there in the small one. It was so private.
Maybe he could offer to help her move her things. She looked small and
fragile to him, smaller than her actual size. She could be intense without
speaking. Sometimes when he would speak to her, he could feel her attention
slipping away. Slipping inwards. Lex took a couple long drags on his Salem,
stripped the butt, and made his way back towards the stairs.
Upstairs the hallways were now overflowing with people. What’s up around
here, isn't anybody doing any work today? Lex hustled over to a spot where
he could get a good view of the television without being hemmed in by the
crowd. On the screen, a plane was flying directly into the other
World Trade Center building. It scored a spectacular bulls-eye. The
commentators were blithering. Everyone in the corridor was talking
excitedly. Everyone seemed to be coming to the same conclusions at the same
time. Lex looked around the hallway, seeking an affirmation. He received it
When his eyes returned to the screen a plane was flying directly into
the other World Trade Center building. Holy Shit! It scored a
spectacular bulls-eye. This time he noticed a groundswell of exclamations
and moans coming from up and down the passageway.
Lex felt a disorienting sense of déjà vu. He was time traveling. Had
he been watching this scene just a moment ago, or had he imagined it? The
commentators were blithering. It was a mind-boggling spectacle. Lex watched
the video footage for a full seven minutes before moving from his spot. He
watched the crash happen repeatedly, as well as bursts of film documenting
the chaos in the streets of New York. The commentators were blithering. He
looked at his co-workers in the growing crowd. Even the most timid souls had
emerged from their cubes and poured into the hallways. With each cycle of
plane and crash the crowds reaction was cycling, becoming ever louder. You
could hear the ocean roar. Suddenly Lex was unsure as to whether he had ever
actually seen the crash, or if he had only seen it's echo. What was
happening here? He was lightheaded.
Lex took the double flight of stairs back down to the smoking area. Melinda
was still there, leaning against the same column, still scanning the
horizon. This time he didn't hesitate to approach her. Lighting a smoke, he
pointed up to the building and asked her excitedly "Have you seen what's
going on up there?" It didn't seem as though she understood him….
It was as though the real disaster was taking place not in New York
City but on the television screen, up the stairs, in the hall. Lex felt
himself to be undergoing a sudden transformation; his personal
dissatisfactions were being replaced by the strangeness of the world, a
world that was suddenly crashing in on him. The way it can and does.
Melinda had ended her game of Solitaire quickly this morning, with minus
$150, as low as you could possibly go. Of course she was playing again. Why
shouldn’t she? She had stopped playing for one day because of a fear that
had soon been forgotten. Why did she even want to stop playing? Crazy
thoughts she had, and she couldn't even really remember what they were. Her
dreams were breaking through to the surface. This morning’s dream of
discorporation had not faded away. It was still happening. Melinda had done
something she rarely did. She referred back to a previous entry in her
'I feel an irresistible force pushing me,” the text read.
“Manipulating me. I feel drawn into a pattern of behavior which I try to
escape through ritual. Trying to defeat one pattern with another. I play the
game to try to avoid the force, but I think it may be the force that is
making me play the game.’
What was that supposed to mean? Bad, adolescent poetry. Stupid journal. It
is inelegant. She had to play. Now it was Tuesday. Four hands and she was
straight out. No one has ever called her Linda before. Always Melinda. She
had lost large. It is nearly impossible to lose at Solitaire in just four
hands. So many things to pick up and sort through. You’re bound to score
something. Two different names. She had to play. Four and out. Bad things
were bound to take place. Her dreams were bubbling up to the surface.
Anything could happen.
Lex explained what was transpiring on the screen upstairs.
Melinda did not seem to be hearing what he was trying to tell her. Her
face was so expressionless. Maybe she didn’t understand...
"Do you ever have dreams that play out in parts?" Melinda asked
languidly. "Where the dream lasts all night long? You wake up, and when you
go back to sleep the dream picks up in the same place where you left off.
It's like being awake is just an interruption and you're returning to your
Lex felt as though he was floating in space. From where did this
strange bit of dialogue originate? There was something deeply wrong with
this girl. She was not acting at all properly. She must be having some type
of post-traumatic reaction to the attacks on screen. Of course, when he
thought it out a little more, she had been standing outside when the first
plane hit, and she was still standing out here now, smoking, alone, leaning
against a concrete column and catching the sun. Good Lord, how could anybody
be so self-absorbed? Something really, really bad is happening upstairs.
Lex looked closely at Melinda before responding. He was examining her for
signs of shock. Her eyes weren’t dilated. Her breathing seemed regular. She
had gone back to scanning the horizon. Lex scanned too. Helicopters would be
in the sky all day long.
For some reason, Lex recalled that Melinda had been wearing braces
when he first met her, although her teeth were white and perfect now. How
long ago had that been? She wears make-up, and he appreciates that. Connie
doesn't wear make-up. Melinda’s skin is milky white, and the cosmetics add a
little color to her cheeks, a little color to her lips. Her hair is a shiny
chestnut brown, which for some reason reminds him of his stereo cabinet.
Lex finally replies with great solemnity. "No, I don't think I've ever
had a dream like that, Melinda. But I have had strange dreams where I know
that I'm asleep, and I wake myself up. But in reality I’m in the middle of
another dream, so when I wake up from that one, I find myself confused. I’m
not sure whether I'm still dreaming or not."
Lex had seen precisely this type of dream last Thursday during an old
'Outer Limits' episode, and it was still fresh in his mind. Lex didn’t want
to admit that he rarely ever remembered his own dreams.
"No, it’s not like that." Melinda had turned and was gazing into his
eyes. She seemed to want something from him, an answer, something. Lex was
finding this entire day just a little too intense…
"It's not like that at all." Melinda seemed troubled but unguarded.
What could he possibly say to her that might help?
"Say, Melinda, have you seen the new Salem pack yet? Look, it slides
right open. See? Here, you can have the one with the green filter."