Martin Negron. September 2012

Among Dinosaurs

She couldn’t think of another way she would rather have these women.  The way in which they presented themselves to her in this dream; naked and surrounded by dinosaurs.  They were laying down, carefully, or resting delicately against each other.  Positioned in graceful contortions as if they were all asleep, or daydreaming.  The beauty of these women was exhilarating.  Some of them had deep dark skin, the color of volcanic rocks, others were colorless, to the extent she feared they would erase themselves from the panorama.  Their breasts either glistened under a bright sun of what she knew to be Spring, pressed against the bodies of the dinosaurs, or hid behind long manes of hair.  Hair that seemed all the more smooth when brushing against the rough skin of these magnificent prehistoric creatures.  Hair that, when laying on their side, would embrace their necks and forearms in opaque black locks or red waves of ginger, accentuating the plumpness of their nipples.

She found herself among these women, lying within the nucleus of an animalesque membrane.  As she contemplated her surroundings, she thought that she would like to spend the rest of her life eating freshly plucked fruits and gently brushing the full lips of the women around her.  There was also a soft lullaby in this dream, the kind that seems to follow your every step; some sort of omnipresent resonance to which you can find no source, but which seems to always be hiding right at the back of your ear.  This single tune slowly began to double, triple and eventually multiply, rising and falling endlessly, like a multitude of voices and echoes intertwining.

She felt as if her entire body was wired with blue electricity.  She could feel it gripping at her nude feet as she walked through the green grass.  Inside her chest she felt charged, and urged to release this massive energy she blurted out a cry of her own.  It was a powerful, deep one.  It rang stronger than all the others, making the mass of sounds more coherent and beautiful than ever.  The women, smiling, began to collect bright yellow flowers and adorn her with them.  They also gently wrapped her in vines all the way to the toes, and kissed her effusively.  This lasted for a long time, in the way that dreams do, where certain instances seem to stretch out, holding on to an erotic promise.

Her voice, that fulminating voice that had managed to enthrall all the women, however, began to change.  At first, adopting a raspy quality that was still pleasant, but quickly shifting into a hoarse croaking sound that pained the women, who now stared horrified.  The screeching sound that emanated from her insides also hurt her own ears, but she couldn’t, nonetheless, find a way to stop herself.  Exasperated and as if trying to find the right pitch again, she sang louder.  The dinosaurs began to bellow angrily, some stomping away, some flying low to attack her.  The women began to scamper off through the sauropods, disappearing like swift spectres.  In the midst of that chaos, she woke up.

She woke in a sombre, completely silent room, illuminated vaguely by the gray light that came in through the windows.  Her heart was pounding, but she remained calm.  She sat up straight and stayed still for a good thirty seconds, the dream fresh in her mind.  She pulled the covers off her legs, got out of bed and walked to the bathroom mirror, staring at herself in the dim light.  She had the face of an aged woman.  Not withered or wrinkled -she was still in her thirties- but the same face she had as a young girl, ripened too early.  Her eyes black and severe, yet a soft, gentle mouth.  The messy hair down to her shoulders made her look somewhat reminiscent of those women in her dream.  She ran her fingers through it for a minute, still looking in the mirror.   She opened her mouth slightly and tried vocalizing a few notes, then quickly ceased.  It wasn’t the horrendous sound from the dream, but it was a mundane and untalented, ugly voice.  She pushed her bushy hair back, behind her shoulders, grabbed it with both hands and began twisting it hastily.  Then, turning it upward, tied it in a knot and crossed it vertically with a thick, long hair pin.  The newly exposed skin caught her attention.  She pulled on the thin straps of her nightshirt and slipped out of it, then her undergarments.  Her skin was dry and faintly chapped, which made her adopt a somewhat reptilian quality.

She walked out of the bathroom, out of her room and into a small common room that led to the kitchen, where there was a plain, empty, round table with four chairs.  She opened the refrigerator, illuminating her naked body.  She looked at the several different items: fruits, bread, jam, cheese, eggs…  Eggs.  She grabbed the half-dozen egg carton and closed the refrigerator, opened a cupboard, took out a small pot, filled it with tap water, placed it on the stove, turned the dial all the way and put the lid on.  As she waited for the water to boil she opened the egg carton.  The eggs were a light brown color with darker brown freckles.  She remembered how she and her brothers would always help their mother choose the eggs at the market because they liked the ones with freckles, and didn’t like white ones.  “Those American eggs are pale and don’t taste the same,” they’d say.  The truth is, if she were blindfolded, she probably couldn’t tell the difference.  But even being aware of that, to this day she still chose the same kind.

When the water reached its boiling point, she carefully dropped in two freckly eggs with a spoon.  As she waited for them to boil, she muttered a few lines of a song she liked, then stopped, placed her left hand on her stomach, pressed in and tried again.  Nevertheless, the sound that came out resembled a dinosaur’s more than a woman’s.  She stopped again, gently stirring the eggs in the boiling water.  Now, out of her lungs she screamed as loud as she could.  She stopped only when she ran out of breath, her scratched throat making her cough.  And as she heard the neighboring dogs barking and watched through the window as some houses turned on their lights, she served the scalding eggs on a plate and sat down, buck-naked.

She wanted nothing more in life than to have a voice that could completely silence a room; a voice that could make people tremble and convey just what she wanted to say, even if there was nothing to be said.  She made an effort to get past this, and most of the time managed to divert her mind –she had been a decent painter, a photographer, a pretty great dancer, a writer and a profound guitarist.  She had received a handful of small awards and recognitions, had studied diverse subjects as thoroughly as she could, trying to decrease her ever-apparent ignorance to all the things that seemed to be happening, or already had happened in the world.  “The things going on in the world…” she thought, “…there are so many things happening and you fixate on singing”.

Her friends and family thought highly of her.  Even she, one might say, thought quite highly of herself.  Not arrogantly, more in the way one knows his own worth.  But it would always resurface, like a gentle reminder that she would never be the person in her dinosaur dream.  She would always have the same voice that she’d been given: flat, ordinary and unpleasant.  All of that she could accept, but to her this voice felt foreign, as if it belonged to somebody else.  She imagined hers, somewhere in the cosmos floating, waiting to be found by someone who wouldn’t know what to do with it, and who’d end up shouting newspaper headlines above honking cars or selling lottery tickets in the middle of a busy street.

She started to de-shell one of the eggs–it was burning the tip of her fingers, but she kept going.  If she had been a singer, she would have sung soul-tearing Mexican rancheras or old Andean folk songs.  She ate the greenish egg with her bare hands and thought about how her whole body seemed to quiver every time she came across someone with an extraordinary gift.  When they sang she didn’t resent them, but felt overwhelmed, and as if standing outside the frontiers of happiness or sadness.  For her it felt as if it was her who was producing those breath-taking sounds, her who was singing those sublime songs, her who was writing those beautiful lyrics.  And so she sang along and fooled herself.

But she wasn’t.  And she felt mute.  Nobody really listens unless you’re singing.  She de-shelled the second egg.  Then, her thoughts found the horrific voice that had followed, that shrieking sound that broke up, powerless.  Much like the scream she had just uttered while stirring the boiling eggs.  She ate the second one, freckly eggshells now scattered on the table.  Yet that voice did something in the dream; it disturbed the women, it arose discomfort in the dinosaurs.  They ran away, took refuge from it, or attacked.  She stood up, collected the eggshells in her hands, approached the sink and placed them on the soil of a plant she had growing indoors.  She grabbed a glass cup and filled it with tap water, put it down and circled her fingers on the rim, looking out her kitchen window.  Some houses still had their lights on, dogs were still alert, and a police car was circling the block.  There was a sense of uneasiness in the street.  The neighbors’ eyes were glued to the side of their windows.  The slightest ruffling of leaves provoked fear.  Shadows were dancing on ceilings and gardens.  Even owls were calling out loudly, as if they knew that at any moment, somewhere close to them, something would happen.

Martin’s new blog can be found at: http://toskamamihlapinatapai.wordpress.com

Photo credit: Edward Chiang

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