Innocent When You Dream

6 08 2010


Deborah Hall placed her coffee cup on the roof of her small pink Toyota, leaned against her car and stared at the drug store. The store was new. All glass and silver siding. Panels in red and yellow. Deborah was disappointed. Everything should be pink.

An interview. God, she was excited. And nervous. She looked at her newly painted fingernails. A lighter shade of ruby red. And began to sing, In my solitude you haunt me of revelries of days gone by. She recalled how overwrought she’d been the previous evening. Pressing her pink blouse and black skirt twice before laying them out on the kitchen table. Beside the pink grapefruit. And cereal bowl. And the box of Corn Flakes. Her nails were bitten down. She’d have to glue on new ones. For the next morning. This morning. And the evening before. Hours spent. Trying to decide. Which shoes to wear. Finally rushing out at the last moment to buy a pair. A bright red pair. Like the shoes that Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz. This was going to be a great day. Except for the nightmares. That seemed to follow each other. Like words in a song.

Deborah looked up at the pink sky. Red sky in the morning. Sailors’ warning. Must put away all negativity. Lovely little clouds drifted by. Like kids on their way. To school. She took the cup of coffee off the roof of her pink Toyota. Nice to see all these other cars crowded around. At least her Toyota wouldn’t be lonely.

Deborah was so happy. She wanted to dance. Across the parking lot. Her cheeks were flush. There was a boy squatting in front of the drug store. Reading a book. About a whale. Why do I have nightmares? Anxiety. There was a hat on the cement in front of him. A beggar. He looked Native. Maybe he was Japanese. He looked disheveled. Like he’d put his clothes on with a shovel. She looked for some change in her purse.

Deborah’s eyes opened. She looked down at her skirt. The skirt wasn’t there. She’d forgotten to put on her dress.

The first nightmare.

Deborah sat up. She was in bed. She looked over at her alarm clock. Four a.m. She was going to be dead tired for the interview. Oh what a terrible dream, she thought to herself. Imagine showing up for work and forgetting to wear her slacks. She felt funny. She pulled back the covers of her bed. Her breath stopped. She was wearing the clothes she’d prepared for her first day. Blouse, skirt, and bright ruby red shoes.

The second nightmare.

“I haven’t any change,” Deborah said to the homeless man. He returned to his reading. The sliding doors opened. As if they only opened for Deborah. She listened to her name being whispered by the air conditioning. A woman rushed passed her pushing a young child in a stroller. The fragrance of a dirty diaper followed behind them. Inside the store a tall black man stood. He’s a giant, she thought. 9 feet. And then she realized he was on a small ladder putting goods on the shelves. He looked down at her.

Moments later Deborah found herself sitting. In a chair. In a small room marked for employees. Across from Mr. Edwards. One of the owners. He was dressed for success. Three piece suit. Italian leather shoes. Nails filed. What was that fragrance?

There was a small table. Between Mr. Edwards and Deborah. She wondered if her skirt wasn’t too short. Mr. Edwards was looking over Deborah’s resume. She noticed that Mr. Edwards had mis-buttoned his shirt. How could Mrs. Edwards have allowed her husband to leave the house in that condition? There was a marriage that was beginning to unravel. Or maybe there was no Mrs. Edwards. Maybe he was gay. Too handsome to remain single. And too rich. Partner in the business and head pharmacist. What kind of car did he have? Something European, Deborah supposed.

“Is there a problem?” Deborah asked.

Mr. Edwards looked up at Deborah. “I see that you passed in the top quarter of your class.”

Deborah smiled. She did not respond. Did he think she was lying?

“You seem quite qualified. Tell me something about yourself.” Mr. Edwards smiled.

Deborah’s mind went blank.

“I often feel guilty for having done something very terrible,” she said.

“Excuse me,” Mr. Edwards responded. Then looked down at Deborah’s right leg.

Deborah looked down at her leg. There was blood running down from her thigh. It was pink.



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