I was lost, hurrying down an endless corridor to find my classroom, clutching books and a folder of notes. I realized they were the wrong books, the wrong notes, and I was in the wrong building. Class was about to start. Could I make it in time? Could I wing it without notes? I was distressed, breathless, starting to sweat.
I told my son Ben about the dream over breakfast. “Why am I still having these dreams when I’m not even teaching?”
“At least you were dressed,” he said.
We’ve got Internet again! I write to my friend Daria in Facebook chat at 7:27. “Steve’s phone died and we went to the mall to buy him a new one, and when we got home, the Internet was down, and we spent a frustrating half hour or maybe longer, maybe an hour, trying to reboot the modem, feeling very dumb because surely we’ve managed that before, and then we called Ben, who’s leaving for Peru in the early a.m. and was walking from his apartment in San Francisco to meet friends at a bar as he tried to give us advice, and then he tried to check Comcast outages, and he needed passwords and information from us, and we realized we should have called Comcast to begin with, so we did, and sure enough there was a neighborhood-wide outage, and their robot, who was very nice, said they’d call us when it was over, but they didn’t know when that would be, and I was freaking out because I’m taking this intensive 3-day online writing workshop this weekend, the one I told you about, but we realized we could go to Starbucks and use their Wi-Fi, which we did, noticing three pairs of Comcast/Xfinity trucks with flashing lights on streets near our house, and I got a mango lemonade and some work done at Starbucks, and copied the next assignment, and now we’re back, and the Internet is restored, and that’s basically my entire day in one sentence.”
I frequently dreamt of flying when I was a kid. Now I dream of falling. So far I’ve never hit bottom. Is it true that if you die in a dream, you die in your sleep?
I’m sitting at the kitchen table after finishing dinner—chicken pasta with garlic bread and salad. My husband’s been doing pretty much all of the cooking since the pandemic started. He’s standing behind my chair, rubbing my shoulders.
“Well dinner was a little late,” he says. “But we got through a near-disaster of a day.”
“Not such a disaster. You’ve got an iPhone 13,” I tell him.
“I don’t feel like I’ve mastered that,” he says. “It’s got me.”
“That’s what Thoreau says about our possessions. Everything we own, actually, including our house.”
That night I have another house dream which doesn’t seem to be about owning a house at all, but something else. It’s like one of those HGTV choose-your-house-in-a-foreign-country shows. I’m climbing up and down narrow stairways in small Mediterranean houses with thick white-washed walls, catching glimpses of impossibly blue skies. I’m looking for secret spaces—rooms behind closets, pantries with narrow doors and high windows, unused attics with dusty piles of lumber—someplace hidden where I can set up my desk.
Daria writes back at 9:15 the next morning. “This is all precisely in line with Mercury being retrograde. The murky wretchedness, as my mom would say.”
I look it up online during breakfast. Mercury retrograde is happening from May 10 to June 2 this year, and Mercury appears to be moving backward during that time, causing electronic communications to go haywire and other technological mishaps. Wi-Fi can be affected. As a matter of fact, Steve is cursing in his study because his Wi-Fi printer is no longer connected and he can’t seem to reconnect it, despite following the instructions for reinstallation on the Brother website. He’s anguished, really, between that and learning the new iPhone. He’s already deleted all of his contacts by mistake.
I write back to Daria at 10:13. “Aah. I knew there must be an explanation. Upside, I bought a dress with pockets at UNIQLO while we waited for our Apple appointment at the mall. Pockets!”
Jacqueline Doyle’s flash fiction chapbook The Missing Girl is available from Black Lawrence Press. A previous contributor to The Disappointed Housewife, she has also published essays and flash nonfiction in Fourth Genre, Gettysburg Review, Passages North, F(r)iction, and matchbook. Find her online at www.jacquelinedoyle.com and on twitter @doylejacq.