I am strong, not quick. I can’t run — I clock pretty good time speedwalking, but one foot is always on the ground, like Antaeus’. I don’t even like to drive fast. I actually flunked gym once; I can’t catch, hit a ball with a racket or bat, jump an obstacle. I can’t fucking see, for one thing. And something in my body refuses to take an action unless there has been a tick-tock moment of reflection to determine where I am in space and time, and if I try to override it, I damage myself. You do not want to imagine the scorn and contempt heaped on me by gym teachers and nasty little girls in snap-up onesies with their names embroidered on the back.

But in my dreams I am light and supernaturally agile, able to spring, vault, hurtle. Once I dreamed myself running a four-mile loop around my old college campus in black lingerie and stilettos — hell, I can’t even walk in stilettos. (I simply cannot explain the lingerie.) The ground flew back beneath me the way a rain-swelled watercourse streams under your feet when you look down from the railing of a footbridge. There was none of the strain I feel when I have to put on speed in real life, or the heaviness that once made a bodywork classmate say “You walk like you want to put your feet through the floor.” The air parted for me, the earth released me.

Last night in the thunderstorms that followed the vernal equinox I dreamed that some ugly influence had infested the pristine Romanesque buildings of Washington, manifesting as disgusting, snot-colored vermin with no limbs and a crude amphora shape, all gaping and evil mouth. Some protective being had manifested through the fountains and pools that dot the city, coalescing a quick and fluent body out of water, and offered me the chance to inhabit the same sort of body in exchange for my help. I hurtled, wove, tumbled like an acrobat, struck like Bruce Lee, weightlessly.

I think of the rotten bitches I had to face down in gym class, probably all sagging and spreading now, for sure not able to hang by their insteps or dead-lift a hundredweight and more, cold, from four inches lower than their own feet. I have my revenge for all those volleyballs in the face.

But I dream of quickness.


7 thoughts on “Velocity

  1. You write of my professional world: the high school campus.
    As usual, your post pulsates with action.

    Very nice writing in every sense of the word, Press.

  2. You dream the most interesting dreams.

    The “disgusting” image of government is probably not far off. I didn’t use to be so cynical.

    I think the “protective being” might have been an angel?

    I understand your frustration with physical limitations. When I was a kid, I couldn’t hit, but I also couldn’t run, catch or throw much either. Fortunately, I wasn’t all that aware of my deficiencies. I just knew that I liked baseball.

    Now that I’m older, I’m not strong, but I’m not quick, too.

    • I don’t think in terms of angels; this was something more like a superhero crossed with the liquid-metal Terminator.

      I’m not sure what the snot creatures were. They didn’t represent government, they were just incarnate nastiness — crude, stupid and evil. You could argue for a lot of those qualities in people with a craving for power, but it didn’t seem directly connected.

      I usually feel much more alive when I’m dreaming (shades of H. P. Lovecraft) and keep a record of the good ones that I can get to stick in my head; it feels as if that will make me more likely to write fiction again eventually.

  3. As I have said on many occasions, the only balls I’m good with don’t need to be hit with rackets or bats. 😉

    And I’m about the heaviest-on-my-feet person I know so one of the delights of the training I’ve been doing recently is my new found ability to sprint.. downhill, with a tailwind…for a few hundred metres…

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