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Rachel Yoder: Fart Mart

June 3, 2014

I dream of fat cats wearing sweatbands trying to get in shape on treadmills.

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Image from Flickr user franco_p

By Rachel Yoder
Brought to you by the Guernica/PEN Flash Series

When you awaken, you say “Collect your favorite physicians and put them in a vial,” which actually makes sense if I don’t think about it.

You fall back asleep and when you wake again you ask, “Are you going to do art with those graham crackers?” and, again, you seem a genius.

Finally, after hours more of sleep, you explain, ”I was just being tracked by werewolves,” and this time stay awake for good.

“Am I dying?” you wonder before you retrieve the fluffy cat from the love seat and then return to bed to hug her and feed her treats.

All day long, as you sleep, you are tracked by werewolves or else murderers lurk outside the windows. All day long, as you sleep in the darkened room, you sweat through your shirt and the sheets and into the feather comforter and then awaken in a person-shaped mini lake. You emerge from the bedroom, disoriented, with ovals of darkened cloth all over you.

“Am I dying?” you wonder before you retrieve the fluffy cat from the love seat and then return to bed to hug her and feed her treats.

I dream, too, but it’s about stuff like nursing the cat or else teleconferencing with a famous curator who wants to display my newest work, “Fart Mart.” I dream of being a stripper in a family diner/titty bar and, on my first night, being tipped only with coupons for minor league sporting events and community theatre.

They have furry hands and transport Fancy Feast among the trees using baskets and pulleys.

We dream in shifts, me during the night and you during the day. As I sketch at the kitchen table by the light of the hydroponic herb garden, you sleep on the couch, dreaming of me being beheaded. As I sleep in the bedroom, you play video games and watch movies from your childhood in the living room as I dream of fat cats wearing sweatbands trying to get in shape on treadmills.

Sometimes I fall to sleep thinking of a race of cat people constructing advanced civilizations in the arms of forests. They have furry hands and transport Fancy Feast among the trees using baskets and pulleys. Everyone there has breath that reeks of Salmon Delight or Turkey and Giblets in Gravy. Everyone there likes to have their armpits rubbed and, when particularly relaxed and happy from ample servings of catnip, retires to the insides of the trees in which they knead each other in the dark and then wheeze into deep sleeps and dream themselves strays with flea and worm problems who feel compelled to spray basements windows with their pungent sex juices, after which monstrous humans emerge from the dark, stomping and making loud human barks and throwing rocks.

I want to somehow communicate to the tree-dwelling cat people that humans don’t hate them but are merely put off by the smell of their musk, how it’s so gross to have to wash the windows of their putrid aggression, how one time long ago the neighbor’s tom came in through the open window by my bed and sprayed the ironing board, after which nothing could be done to rid it of the smell, and who wants to buy a new ironing board? I would tell the tree-dwelling cat people of the infrequent use of ironing boards and of their unwieldiness, of how no one wants to iron to begin with. I will tell them that humans, instead of licking themselves, place steaming hot metal on their garments so as to rid the cloth of its wrinkles, how this is one of our grooming customs, even though as soon as we don our flattened cloths we’ll long to curl on a dirty pile of our lover’s laundry or in a large wicker basket and nap at length, wrinkling ourselves into the patterns of dream.

“What the fuck is this?” I want to know, but there is no one to ask.

I would tell them of how, much like a cat, I like to sleep in your leftover heat, in a man-shaped warmth that’s seeped into the bed. I would tell them how I seek it out after you’ve risen, how I flip back the bed sheets in search of it and instead find thousands of pinpoints of blood, which combined, perfectly form the image of a sleeping man.

“What the fuck is this?” I want to know, but there is no one to ask. You also demand answers, but the cats are clueless and the bare mattress and even the box spring reveal nothing, not even one microscopic bug or very tiny man with a backpack full of pins.

When our sleeping shifts overlap, we lie together in bed, holding hands, waiting for something to happen. Maybe we itch or feel them crawling or maybe we just imagine it. We wash the sheets twice and sleep in the blood man’s shadow. We take turns. We wait.

Rachel Yoder edits draft: the journal of process which publishes first and final drafts of stories, essays, and poetry along with author interviews about the creative process. Her writing most recently has appeared in The American Reader and is forthcoming in The Normal School. She lives in Iowa City.

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