73 / 365 – Dead or alive

DAGNY KIELLAND

Thank god they let me back at work again. I was going to try to make my manager feel sorry for me. I thought, if I lose my job, I’m finished. My parents weren’t talking to me. Still barely talking to me. John wasn’t talking to me. I didn’t even have money for gas to get anywhere in the car. I had to walk over there. I was thinking, ‘I’ll cry if I have to,’ I felt like, like I was that desperate. I wore a nice dress, I look kinda good in it — well, I used to. My skin is sort of sallow now, when I look in the mirror, and my complexion, it’s like I have zits again, for the first time since high school, and I didn’t hardly have so many then. It was stupid to wear that dress, who wears a dress to go ask for a job at a C-store, but it was the only thing that was even clean, so even if I thought it was stupid to wear I didn’t have anything else that wasn’t gross. I hadn’t been doing laundry in awhile — that’s disgusting, I know. We won’t get into that. I just had to break out of this. So I put that dress on and walked down there. It was a really cold day and the wind was coming in, cold and grey, and I’m walking in a dress like I’m in a big city going somewhere important, like Fargo or Minneapolis, like I matter somehow. I wish I was in one of those places and I hadn’t totally screwed up my life. I was walking down the street and I walked past that new cafe where Finn works and I looked in the window and saw him in there, with his back turned, working at the grill. That places was always kinda run down and I don’t think they fixed it up all that much when they re-opened it but it looked fun, like a nice place to be, not like this dirty, dark, gross cave of an apartment where I’ve been living. Or like working at the C-store where people just ignore you unless they’re truck drivers trying to flirt with you, and they don’t even give tips if you flirt back. And my life is so screwed up I thought, well, this would be a step up, if they give me my job back, if they don’t fire me for just disappearing for a few days. That’s how low I was, running a cash register and selling gas seemed like I was going to get to be the Queen of Norway. So I was going to do anything for that job, cry if I had to. But I got there and I didn’t have any crying in me. I just felt empty, like I cried myself out, but of course I didn’t. It’s like once I started doing meth I didn’t have any feelings any more unless I’m on meth, and then my head runs so crazy it’s not like I start feeling things, like how bad I feel that I just threw every good thing I had totally away. Sometimes I think I might cry now, while I think of it, and then something cold comes up inside me and it smothers it. But I went in there, I saw Mike the manager, he gave me a hard time for screwing up so bad, and I just let him. He could say whatever he wants, I just wanted me job back. I tried to smile and be apologetic, maybe even be a little pretty, even though I don’t feel pretty at all, I feel like hell. He gave in. He said if anyone else who was any good had applied for the job he wouldn’t let me, but they hadn’t and he was tired of working extra shifts. So now I’m working in the middle of the night. They keep the doors lock and it’s just me, working through the glass window. There’s nothing here to get me in trouble, except for smoking too many cigarettes, which are going to wreck my skin, I guess that’s trouble. I haven’t seen Richard anyway — he’s the guy I was getting it from. I heard they were going to get busted and they up and left town. It’s all such a mess.

I come home in the morning and then I try to go to sleep, although I drink so much coffee at night it’s hard. I’ve been having a lot of weird dreams, which is maybe because I’m jittery without the drug, or, I don’t know, maybe it’s what normal sleep is like and I’ve just forgotten, since I used math for, I don’t know, like two years, and I forgot what sleep is like. I have one where Richard is chasing me down a dark, bluish hall because I owe him something, and I don’t, but he won’t listen, so we’re running. I’m trying to scream but I can’t. Sometimes I wake up and I’m making this hoarse, squealing noise, like a pig or something. That god John isn’t here then, that would probably be proof I’m still sick and he’d have another excuse to leave. Sometimes I dream about John, and he’s standing up on the roof of the old Opera building, the Eagles Aerie, and he’s yelling down, “Hey, you gotta come up here and see this,” only I can’t get up there, the door is locked. And I try to yell up and he can’t hear me. Sometimes I have another one, with buffalo in it, this one is totally weird. I’ve never even seen a real buffalo, although I’ve heard they were around here a long time ago. There’s a whole herd of them, kind of grazing around where I’m standing, and there are so many of them with their heads down, grazing, they stretch off to northwest like a black sea, a sea of buffalo. It’s crazy, I know. And then this Indian rides in on a horse. He doesn’t look like the ones you see in drawings, all barechested and with a feather in his hair. This one is wearing long sleeves, actually he has a robe on. There’s light snow coming down, and the buffalo are all bunched together in the cold, grazing on the brown grass. And this Indian comes and rides into the middle of them, holding a long spear, and then he spears one of them, and with an arrow gets another. Two buffalo fall, and the other ones don’t run or stampede or anything. They step away a little, like they’re parting for the Indian on horseback, getting out of the way, and then they start splitting wider and suddenly you realize there’s a huge crack opening in the ground, and the Indian and the buffalo start falling into it sideways, like the ground is falling away and they are just falling in. The crack zigzags as far as you can see, and all the buffalo, that sea of black, get pulled down into this crack, that’s like a roaring river of dirt, and there’s all this thunderous noise and the buffalo are bellowing, making this loud sound like a cow, and they’ve all disappeared and the crack fills up with churned up dirt, and then it’s quiet again, just snow falling.

I know, that’s crazy, right? I thought that was just a silly dream from watching old westerns. I don’t even know anything about buffalo. But then I had it again. I hate this, working at night and sleeping in the day, I never feel like I get to sleep. I never feel like I quite wake up either. It’s like my brain, my heart are dead. I wonder if I’ll ever feel alive again.

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