Five days off, one day back to work, and already I’ve relapsed into the habit of falling asleep early, waking up in the wee hours, and nodding off lightly to have dreams filled with anxiety. In this edition, I was lying naked but wrapped in a blanket (as I actually was) in a strange bed, trying to sleep. This is where the line between reality and dream blurs.
I froze when the door opened, hoping not to be seen by the intruder. It proved to be my brother, who crawled into the bed next to me while I contemplated the strangeness of this strange place. I could see outdoors into the night.
Later, shaking with her irritation, my aunt asked me how I had missed hearing the phone ring. I listened to a long, rambling, almost incomprehensible message from HR about how I’d never received formal permission to take these three days off and how I would be subject not just to pay withholding and disciplinary action, but to dismissal as well.
By now, I sensed that everyone was angry with me.
I was on a train platform for the next stage of my journey when I realized the train not only was on the opposite track, but was going to pull out momentarily. Leaving everything behind, I ran up the stairs to cross to the other side. Once I was there, children ran down the stairs in front of me. I cursed them for slowing and blocking me, although they kept well ahead of me, and I knew I could not catch up with them.
The platform emptied of people abruptly as I arrived, so with a sinking feeling I knew the train was about to leave, and I marveled at myself because I had not brought my luggage.
I woke up weary.