Follow Me

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The other night, I had a dream that I couldn’t speak. I was running through the streets, trying to warn people, but they couldn’t hear me. Maybe they simply didn’t want to hear me.

Every morning when I leave my home, there is a man following me. He walks slowly. He isn’t in a hurry. The man is a little bit closer every time that I see him.

My breath comes short, and my mouth goes dry. I try not to look at him, try not to acknowledge him, but he’s always coming from just outside my peripheral vision. My palms sweat and my heart thuds. I pretend that he isn’t real.

The man is a little bit closer every time that I see him.

I pass by windows, and there are eyes behind them. I know that they are his eyes. When I’m inside, at a restaurant or a grocery store, I can see him sitting in a corner, hiding behind a newspaper. He licks his finger before he turns the page. He sees me try to smile at people as they pass me by, sees me trying to make small talk, and fumbling over my words.

He makes me nervous. I make myself nervous.

The man is a little bit closer every time.

The other night, I had a dream that nobody could see me. They kept colliding with me, crowding around me, but they couldn’t even feel my skin. I didn’t have an outline, I knew, because I wasn’t complete. I wasn’t a real person.

Every morning I try to say at least one thing to somebody. A cashier. A waiter. A stranger. Anybody. I hardly speak a single sentence more than that. When you haven’t used your mouth until noon, your voice comes out as a croak. I don’t have friends anymore. They’ve forgotten about me, or I’ve forgotten about them, or they don’t want to see me, or I don’t want to see them.

I live alone. I’ve been alone for years. I don’t know when it happened, but one by one, all of the people that I knew fell out of touch. I want to meet new people, make new friends, but it never feels quite right. It feels forced, as if I’m treating friendship like a fishing trip. Hook the bait, cast the line, and wait.

My bait isn’t very alluring, you might say.

No bites. Except for one.

There’s no point trying to describe the man, because he looks different every time. Each day, each hour, each instant, he is wearing different clothes, wearing a different face. But he follows me, every day, without fail.

He isn’t in a hurry.

The man is a little bit closer every time.

The other night, I had a dream that he was whispering in my ear. He told me that he would devour me, consume me, as if he hadn’t already.

I may be in the belly of the beast, but you are what you eat.

When there are people near me, I feel uneasy. I want to talk to them, but I don’t have anything to say. I live my life on autopilot, without the willpower to break the cycle by myself. I hope that somebody will answer me, before I even ask a question. Somebody will notice me, before I’m even in the room. Somebody will remember me. All I want is to be remembered before I disappear for good.

They know him. Everybody knows that man. It isn’t safe to be in public anymore, but I can’t help myself. Not that being out there does me any good. He doesn’t smile. Sometimes he smiles. Each instant, he is wearing a different face.

The man is closer.

And I want him to follow.

 

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