A Bad Dream
I had a bad dream last night.
Probably too many scary movies, I’m sure you’ll say.
I’ll turn over and I’ll believe you completely
And let you hold me as I tell you about my truth-less nightmare:
They’re finding replacements for these women.
Better versions of them.
We’re trying to stop them before they
Keep the copy, kill the original.
But I don’t know that we can.
It’s all very dramatic and this part
I don’t remember well—the trying-to-save-them part.
The part I remember well is when we don’t succeed.
It’s then that I realize that I’m the replacement,
But it’s not for a woman but for a girl.
And she’s in a pool having drowned
Her face fuzzy and lit up
From the sun refracting around it,
Her hair framing her face so ethereally.
And then I look over, and I see that you were a replacement too.
In the water before you is another little girl,
Floating gracefully, arms outstretched—
Maybe she’s just taking a nap?
Before I can finish looking at these lovely, elegant girls though,
You stop me.
“Don’t look at their faces!” You shout.
“Don’t look at their faces or you’ll never forget them.”
So I close my eyes tight.
And then you tell me that you’ll take care of them both.
And I said ok, because I knew I couldn’t drag that dead, water-soaked little girl from the pool all on my own, not for lack of strength, but for a lack of wanting to let her go after if I did.
You knew and I knew that if I pulled that little girl from the pool, I’d dig a wide and shallow grave and bury myself right next to her.
So I closed my eyes and let you do it.
And I brought you lemonade when you were done digging the holes.
You laughed and joked with me and I did too because that’s what we were supposed to do.
We weren’t supposed to think about those drowned children, forever drenched in their innocence and virtue.
That’d make us too sad.
And then I woke up.
And the whole thing was shattered because the girls weren’t beautiful and fragile things.
There was nothing tragically romantic about their placid little faces.
Though I didn’t watch it, water had filled their lungs.
I know they sputtered and coughed and struggled and died, despite wanting to live.
It was ugly and violent and they probably weren’t that elegant as they took their last breath.
And who are we to skip their mourning period, when all they wanted was to live?
Who are we to spare ourselves uncomfortable feelings when they died to make room for us?
Because I know now that she isn’t just ‘some girl’.
And the other one was you.
Maybe not now and maybe not even recently, but one day there was a little girl.
A little girl who was brutalized to make a spot for me.
And though I’m happy I’m here, I sure wish I could have saved her.
And though I worry about forgetting her face, it’s not for the same reason you warned me.
I fear I’ll think this is all I ever was.
You’ll probably think differently, but I don’t think it’s because of too many scary movies.
About the Poet:
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Jacquelyn Spence has been working as a writer and poet while pursuing a Master’s degree in English. For any inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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