That night, Gregory dreamt of his mother. It was a dream that he’d have carried to his therapist like a raw, precious egg if he’d had a therapist, and the dream made him wish he had one. In the dream, he sat in the kitchen of his mother’s house at the table on his usual place. He could hear her handle pots and pans and sigh occasionally. Sitting there filled his heart with sadness and also with a long missed feeling of comfort until he realised that the chair and the table were much too small for him: it was a child’s chair and he could barely fit his long legs under the table. He was worried that his mother might scold him for being so large and for not wearing pants. Gregory, in the dream, felt his manhood press against his belly while he was crouching uncomfortably, not daring to move.
Now he noticed that there were four more chairs at the table. Chairs for grownups. His four girlfriends sat in them looking down at him. Each of them wore a large gingerbread heart around her neck. He wondered if they knew that he was naked and if they cared that he had a kid-sized chair. “Hello there, pretty ones”, he said wanting to sound casual, wishing to buy himself some time to think. But his talking sounded like barking and worse of all, he began to drool worse than a doberman. The saliva was flowing from the corners of his mouth onto his thighs and from there down to his balls where it gathered making him feel as if he sat in his own feces. He looked up at the women’s faces but they all looked like his mother, who he could still hear behind him, which was confusing. He wished he could get up and out of this chair, but then he’d stand with his tackle hanging out in the middle of his mother’s kitchen in front of four women. He was freed from further thought by a scream that quickly turned into the ringing of his alarm clock as he awoke wet from sweat. He first put his hand down his belly to check if he was dry down there. As a boy, he had wet his bed. Something else he wasn’t going to tell any women in this life, like ever.
He turned on his side and closed his eyes again. Valentine’s day was here and he had avoided making any arrangements with any of the four nemeses. He was not looking forward to this day and he was, not for the first time, wondering if there was a way to go back into a dream, stay there for a while and come out the next day. The phone rang and Gregory decide to pick up. “Hello”, he said, suddenly remembering the tone he’d had in the dream and resenting it instantly. “Hello, darling”, his mother said.
[#45/1000. Originally written for Meg Tuite’s Exquisite Quartet as part of a piece “Posse”, co-written with Meg, Susan Tepper and Matt Rafferty for Used Furniture Review—now published as an anthology.]