The same damned song plays in my head as I wake up in a typical morning stupor. No, the song is not playing, rather, it’s recurring inside my brain. It’s like an image or a voice that never completely leaves you. It’s that point when sound and music become tangible when you know you’re old. It will take me a good five minutes to get from here to there. Not like when I was young, when I had the energy of youth. My bones feel brittle and my skin aches with every breath I take. It is now, now that I have lost all of my energy and all of my foolish ambitions, that I appreciate the little things in life. Yes, the little things that I flew by, so many years ago, always ignoring the things that seemed inconsequential to the grand scheme of life. Little did I know that the little things were the grand scheme.
I do believe breakfast sounds like a grand thing this morning, perhaps the grandest. Harold caters to my every whim; he is uxoriously in love with me. Any minute now, he will barge through that door, alerting me with that harsh, clipped voice, the one that screams love. I wait for moments on end but all I hear is the song.
Then I remember one small, insignificant detail. Harold doesn’t make breakfast anymore. That poor little man was stubborn until the very end. Nothing would tear him away from his hamburgers and his soda pop. He looked so happy when he lay down in that wooden box. I almost envied him that day, he looking so quiet and content and no doubt, the center of attention.
I awake just a little bit more and I remember more of the truth. I am not waiting for Harold to come in here but do look forward to hearing a softer touch. A softer touch doesn’t feel to me, nor does it astound me in the eyes. No, I tend to hear soft contours these days. The soft presence I remember as Melissa, the loveliest face in all the world, just as shimmering and guileless as the day she looked up and asked me where God goes whenever he feels lonely. My smile returns to me at the very thought of seeing Melissa’s full glowing face one more time.
But as the chord progression changes inside my head, I remember more and more of the little things in life. It is only when I am fully awake that I remember how long it has been since I last saw Melissa’s teary eyes. Bitterness is strong in young women, this I know all too well. It took me two quarters of my life to make peace with mom. But Melissa, that girl, a temper as Irish as her grandmother. She has years to put the past behind her. I have but moments, moments that are building to a lifetime crescendo. Melissa, wherever you are, I hope that you find peace. I hope my answers calmed you for a few moments in your precociously existential youth.
As I wipe the sleep away from my eyes, I remember my one last reason for getting up in the morning. Dagan, my German Shepherd, who guides me physically and with the last bit of love I have to give in this world. If for nothing else, I must get up to give my baby his morning cup of dog food. He’ll lick me in thanks and lay patiently as I get up to read the morning paper. Quite a cost at fifty cents a day, if you ask me, and the writing is hardly worth a penny for 50,000 words.
But the tune plays quietly in my ears, not a ringing, something far more subtle, almost delicate to the situation. There is no Dagan, not anymore. The more the notes play in chromatic succession, the more I remember of that sad day yesterday, when Dagan so foolishly decided to run into the street, fetching a stick that didn’t belong to him, far too fond of the little things to enjoy a full doggy life.
Ah, Dagan. I will miss you most of all. How odd, that. Maybe because you were all my heart could take so late in the season. You filled this small shell beautifully, so snug with the most simple, the most wonderful devotion.
The song finishes softly, ever gently breaking the news to me. Its quite beautiful the way that chords connect with each other, at once smoothly and yet so far apart in the scale. The more I remember the more I realize that I’ve awakened far too early this morning. There’s really no purpose in getting up and eating breakfast. Perhaps I’ll sleep another few hours and wake up in the evening. When there is something there.
I drift away and sleep for another hour.
Oh dear. I remember everything this time. Vividly remembered and that damned song still in my head. I turn to my side and see him lying there, his naked body vibrating with certain life. I quickly push myself up enough to meet his eyes.
“Darren, is that you?”
“I hope so”, he says, smirking in his usual manner.
“Oh, how long did I oversleep?”
“Technically, you didn’t. It’s the weekend.”
“Ah geez, honey. Were you playing Art of the Fugue?”
He laughs. “Did you hear it? It was Bach’s swan song.”
“It was in my dream.”
“Really? How so?”
“I kept hearing the song and the more I listened the sadder I became.”
“Aww. Sad dream?”
“But I wasn’t me in this dream.”
“Who were you?”
“I don’t know. That’s what bothered me. I could have been anybody. I could have been the future me. I could have been my grandmother. I could have been someone I never met before. Whoever it was I wept for her. I wish there were something I could do to prevent her fate. Her loneliness.”
“Hmm. Well, if you believe in destiny, then you believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe even our dreams are connected to the cycles of our lives.”
“So what, I’m reconciling the same emotions I feel in the dream?”
“Not necessarily. Maybe your life crossed over with someone else’s. You felt their pain just for an instant. No one likes to be alone. Maybe no one has to be.”
“Why though, what good does it do me to carry the burden of others I’ve never met?”
“Well that’s only one theory. It could be something far more tedious. Maybe your brain creates random nonsense in dreams and you over-analyze them and then decide to take life more seriously. Never take things for granted and become a better person, blah blah blah.”
“No. Life is never just that simple. Is it?”
“Can I make you breakfast, honey? I feel inspired today.”
“Not today, hon. It’s time for you to wake up.”
And the song plays, D-A-F-D-C. God, I hate the feeling of a sunny morning.