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A Great Bird
It must be those lucid dreams Mr. K has.
Originally published at Literally Stories, this is the first of four stories that I’ve edited significantly after publishing them — or in this case, submitted an alternate version when the original was on track to publish! The folks at Literally Stories preferred the version you can see on their site, but I still like this one as a different take!
Mrs. K wakes up one day and realizes something is not quite right. It must be her marriage. Her children are likeable. Her home is intentional. Her job is respected. It must be something else. It must be her marriage.
It must be those lucid dreams Mr. K has, the ones that make it hard for him to remember what was a dream and what was a memory. This has always bothered Mrs. K. She realizes now that if dreams and memories are the same thing, their wedding is no more special than his teenage fantasies. The day they met is no different from the dream he had where he met that woman from Game of Thrones. The fundamental truth of it dawns on her: their entire marriage is just one dream among many, the only one in which he had to compromise.
Mrs. K stares at herself in the mirror and says: It's all ruined. It's all fucked.
She turns to him that night and asks him if he is faithful to her when he lucid dreams.
Mr. K says: It is almost morning, I am going to prepare the children's lunches, and besides, I do not often lucid dream anymore.
Mrs. K lies in bed, shattered. She knows what she must do. Night after night, she trains herself to lucid dream.
Mr. K knows. He warns Mrs. K that the people she encounters in her dreams are not the people from her waking life. He says they cannot tell her anything she does not already know. He says it is dangerous. Mrs. K turns away from him and enters the dream world. In it, the bread on their table is warm bread she has made. She can fly and does so, circling the house like a great and terrible bird. Mr. K comes out to stare at her. He beckons the children, who are standing at the door wailing, refusing to join him.
Do you see? Mrs. K cries down to them. Do you see what you've done to me? Mr. K cries back, but whether he recognizes her or not she cannot tell. The sound of her great wings and feathers, lofting her farther and farther into the air, drowns out any sound.