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to deem that my days have been a dream

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0.

Jack doesn’t dream, except when he does.

 

1.

Sometimes, they’re the funny kind. Those he tells; with a laugh too genuine to be quite self-ironic. High-society enjoys the artful flaws, the ones that fit in just enough to stand out. 

He embellishes them when it suits him or creates dreams from scratch – it’s easy to tell what story his audience likes best, after all and they eat it up with the voracity of those whose only want is for entertainment.

(This is the world he’s done everything to find.) 

 

2.

“Are you happy now?” asks a beloved ghost, painful and playful in equal intensity. 

(This is how he is destroyed.)

 

3.

He performs for many. For everyone, for no one at all. Fleeting masses, flocks of dresses and paper faces, painted and gleaming. Jack remembers just enough to be awarded smiles. 

(His memories picked to his liking; this is what he is.) 

 

4.

This he dreams in moments. Blue hues, rustling; coquettish laughter, thrilled by the thought of wanting him and nothing more. Closeness, making for intimacy. Her doing or his? Doesn’t really matter in the end. Sweet perfume, sweeter voice.

“When you tell your stories, I feel I dreamed the same. Funny, isn’t it?”  

 

5.

It really is funny; Jack is the same. His tales so vivid his mind makes up memories to match. Or maybe, that’s just the life he’s lived.

(This is the he who wakes up every morning.) 

 

6.

Jack is an easy person, a funny person. Of course his dreams would be the same. 

(What matters a buried memory? A stone at the bottom of a lake?)

 

7.

He recounts them to Glen too; gestures and oooh-ing and smiles, even if he isn’t this kind of high-society except in title. Jack is the same with him, after all. Glen allows for it; all distant gazes and trusting dozing. So Jack chatters, and spins his tales, and creates nothing new. Though he does wonder: Would Glen notice?

(Would Oswald?)

Would he shoot up the mirror, tear up the painting; would he point it out?

 

8.

The kids hang onto his every word and Jack indulges them happily. For them, he spins dreams. Silly ones, heroic ones; fights that they always win, their bellies full and warm and a world that loves them for their bravery. A world where red eyes are a thing of beauty, not hate, and where they never have to part.

(It would be nice, wouldn't it, if these stories were true.)

 

9.

And there’s his dearest Alice, of course. For her he dreams up the beauty of the world outside. For her, he repeats old words; the cutting beauty of snow (but not its sorrow), the manic joy of rainy dances (leaving out the blood) and the freedom of looking at the world from every possible angle. He makes gold what to him only ever gleamed. 

(And himself, into a dream of a prince.) 

 

10.

Don’t buy what you yourself are selling, the saying goes. It almost makes Jack laugh. If his words are lies and his lies a drug, it’s not something he can part with, even if he tried.

 

11.

Empty.

That’s the worst kind of dream. But at least, the kind he can forget.

(Except in its terror.)