In the dream, these strangers ask me to decorate a Christmas tree in their office. The boss says, “You must use two words to sum up our existence and encourage our production.”
I sing, “Oh Holy Night.” I don’t know why. But I can feel conversations stop, as these strangers surround me, feeling an unearthly voice go through them like glass.
I can’t wait to slip my hand under this dirty hotel mattress and fetch my blue vibrating dildo, as the minions surround the tree and the boss, oohing and aahing over my towel tinsel and my cinder block lettering in the midst of the blinking lights and the sagging garland: “Work Smart.”
Beautiful Kathleen leads a choir far away in a festive carol. The church is packed.
The friendly faces disappear into midnight mass. Twinkling stars aligning, one by one, where two or more are gathered — a familiar scenario playing over and over in my mind. The lonely are departed momentarily, this I know, but I play along, as if we are star-crossed lovers, or bosom buddies, partners in crime forever intertwined. I am, after all, the player and the playwright.
As the dust of their company settles, their stories etched in the smallest, furthest corners of my mind and of my soul, I remember their solemn vows, their declarations of love, the startled look in their eyes — the fade of a particularly moving sonnet in D-minor, perhaps — as once upon a time I broke up the monotony of their unwilling solitude with my clumsy attempts at conversation, my earnest, heartfelt confessions, a rant that slipped into debauchery.
I basked a little longer than I should in their laughter, a returned smile, the touch of rain on a summer day in the middle of this gladiator heat wave. I’m a part of them, for as long as this flat white lasts.
They always leave. Every last one. Always.
I used to cry for days, pounding my fists against these four walls, pounding pounding till they bled from the inside out.
Now, I know better. I am not here for love, a Friends marathon, Oprah, and forever after.
I’m here to tell their stories, until they move on.