In My Dream I’m Drowning

by | Jun 4, 2021 | Oddball

This creative nonfiction piece was written for Christopher Burnside’s Elements of Style class at the University of Dayton. Like everything else from that class, I’m putting it here in the oddball category rather than the academic category. If I remember correctly, the prompt for this one was that every sentence had to be shorter than eight (nine?) words. Maybe the second person was part of the prompt. I forget.

In my dream I’m drowning. I wake up and see it’s you. You appear content, sleeping on my chest. I roll on my side, but no. You won’t have it. Desiring food, you bat at my face. I try to fend you off. You claw my nose. As always, you eventually win. I give up and get up.

I go to the bathroom. You follow. My little shadow, crying the whole way. I didn’t forget about you. Please, be patient. Just let me take a dump. You try to sit on my lap. That’s awkward, so I force you down. You sit on my feet instead. That’s okay I guess. I should have shut the door. Some peace would be nice. Except then you’d scratch at the door. Scratch at the door and cry. Woe is he who thinks of himself. Your needs always come first. I pinch it off. I’ll get your damn breakfast.

Your meal looks terrible. What’s an apt comparison? Gilded age prison food. Chum. Gruel. I’ve never actually seen gruel. It rhymes with cruel, though. Must be bad. At least you seem to enjoy it. Finally, your attention targets something else. I hurry to make my own breakfast. Cinnamon Toast Crunch. This does not escape your attention. You finish your food as I begin. Excitedly, you jump on my chair. You’re not too proud to beg. Eventually, relenting, I give you a square. It’s probably not good for you. Oh well, you seem happy.

I attempt to do some homework. I have so much to do. Like I’m struggling just to tread water. Soon you’re on my lap, curiously watching. The words magically appear on the screen. I move the cursor. You try to grab it. I try to make you stop. This only works temporarily. Now you’re swatting at the keys. Envious that the laptop monopolizes my attention. You try to sit on it. “Look at me! Look at me!” Impeding my view, you stare at me. I give up.

I turn on the TV. Unlike my laptop, this bores you. Off you go, romping around the house. I really should do homework. Accomplish something before you romp back. But I’ve given up. I need to rewatch Breaking Bad, anyway. Can’t watch El Camino until then. You race back into the room. A little stuffed animal in your mouth. You growl and shake it. Congratulations, you’re terrifying. You jump on the couch. You jump back down. You climb up on the chair. You find a newspaper. That’s a fun toy. Somehow better than anything I ever bought. You rip it to shreds. Roll around in your mess. You look like a playful otter. One more episode down. On to season three.

Exhausted, you climb on my lap. You lay your head down on me. I pet your hair behind your ear. Big yawn. You turn over, smile, and say, “Dada.” I tell you I love you. Off you go to sleep. Every moment with you is significant. Like swimming through an ocean of happiness.


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