If you’ve read any portion of my fiction, you would be able to sense a theme: Romantic relationships with a thorn in them. There’s something about being as intimate as you can be with a person and still being able to hide certain things by choice or by necessity, gets me every time. Perhaps that’s why today’s fiction nugget by Meg Worden stuck with me. “Do you dream?”, the title and first sentence of today’s Fictionaut fiction nugget, is a beautiful snapshot of the things we know about ourselves but do not share, even in the most intimate of situations.
Her narrator feels carefully constructed, and Worden avoids the pitfalls of a relationship between an overly trusting woman and a withholding man. The narrator expresses regret both in the moment described and in hindsight. His selfish reasons for not answering her deceptively simple question are recognizable and relateable: Wanting, even for a fleeting moment, to keep from facing another person who understands that you are less than you would like to be, or as this narrator perceives himself, “soulless.” Whatever we understand about ourselves we can hide from, but when another person, especially someone you share a bed with, understands those things about you, it can be difficult to escape. Avoiding it is the greatest solace and, as he shows us, an easy feat: “I kissed her mouth instead of answering. Kissed it hard and pressed my hand into the space between her belly and her hip, reached around and pulled her toward me. I gave her no choice but to respond to me because I couldn’t give her what she really wanted.”
Aside from the tantalizing theme, Worden has some straight up beautiful writing to back it up. My favorite paragraph and what I wish I’d written: I sleep the blackout sleep of death and drunkards. I sleep the blessed sleep of far away. I never dream of fire or flying. I never dream of losing myself, of wandering the dusty trailer lot behind the circus looking for that part of me that I have lost, my everlasting home.