Wonderland

Your fingers seem longer, thinner
alive in their own right, as they crawl among the pill bottles.
For a moment, you feel like Alice:
labels are meaningless, but you’ve tried them all.
The tall green one will cause strange words to tumble
over and under and from your lips,
while this orange one brings dreamless sleep.
And as you mix yourself
a cocktail that rattles in your palm
you wonder –
how did she climb back out
the rabbit hole?

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Dream: Part Eighteen

Reese sits down heavily on the bed next to her.  She is curled away, tucked securely under the blankets but he can feel the chill from her wet dress seeping through the sheets.  She makes no move to acknowledge his presence, though he realizes sadly that he isn’t surprised by this.

“Lana, were you ever going to tell me?”  He looks away from her, to the framed photos on the wall that seem so clearly now to hold pictures of a stranger.  He shifts his weight, stares out the window.

“What have you been doing with your life?  Was it just the drugs or were you…Fuck.  Lana, say something.”

She is silent.  He puts his head in his hands.  She was always silent, he slowly realizes.  It was him who filled the quiet.  He glances at her, at the sharp, tense line in her shoulders and recognizes that as well.  He wonders how long he knew, how long he pretended.

“Why, Lana?”

She is unrelenting.  He isn’t sure if she can’t think of a single thing to say, or if she can no longer stomach the thought of speaking to him.  But he deserves an answer for this.

“God damn it, Lana, say something.” He reaches over and grabs her shoulder, turning her towards him.

Her lips are blue, that brightest most brilliant shade of familiar blue.  They are caked in a powdery sheen he would have been able to identify in his sleep.  It has bled over her teeth, her tongue.  Run over her cheek, down her neck to pool in the soft recess of her collarbone.

Her eyes are open, but they have ceased to see.

“Baby,” he gently cups her face in his hand as he crawls across the bed to her.

“Lana, honey, Lana, wake up,” he cradles her head in the crook of his arm, brushing away the hair from her forehead.  Someone in the back of his head is saying that she is gone.  She is cold to the touch, stiff.

“Lana, please, say something,” his voice cracks.

He tries to prop her up a little further, to wedge his body in behind hers.  Her arm falls free from his grasp, off the edge of the bed.  There is a soft clatter as something small frees itself from her hand.

“Please…”

He suddenly finds it hard to breathe.  She is gone.  He is dizzy, nauseous.  Vaulting from the bed, Reese grabs for the phone on her nightstand.  Kneeling beside her, he is shocked by how pale she is.  He puts his hands out on the floor to steady himself, fingers brushing against plastic.

The empty bags of Dream.

He picks them up, one by one, counting the times she poured that sickly sweet death over her lips.  Then he sees her ring.  Tossed on the floor before she took one more trip.

He looks back up at her.  She had taken it off.  Chosen the drug instead of him.

He continues to look at her, blankly, then suddenly slams the phone down onto the floor.  He knocks the lamp off of the nightstand, shattering it against the wall.

“Fuck!”

He stands over her.  Then turns and punches a hole in the wall, shaking a picture of the two of them on their wedding day.  He yells again.  He wants to destroy the room.  To tear this carefully constructed illusion apart piece by cheap piece.  But instead he sinks down beside her, rolling to look at her.  He used to think she was so beautiful.  So perfect.

He touches his lips to her softly.  He thinks of every smile that had failed to reach her eyes.  He wants to break her.  He wants her to hurt as badly as he does, but she feels nothing.  He wonders if she ever felt anything.

He kisses her more fervently then, devouring her.  He kisses her with a rage, and a sorrow, that he has never expected to feel.  He tries to reclaim them for his own.  She is unyielding in his arms, she was never his.

He sits back hard against the headboard, wipes his mouth clean.  His hand falls away, a bright, brilliant, familiar blue.  He sits in an empty room, with the hollow of a ruined wife, echoes of a ruined life, closes his eyes and lets the Dream take him…

Dream: Part Seventeen

She is standing at the sink when he comes in.  Her back is to him, she is humming faintly.  He pauses in the doorway briefly and watches her.  She is lovely in her rhythmic motion, hands circling plates as she cleans away the residue of last night’s dinner.  He watches for just a moment more before he moves towards her, grabbing a towel so he can help.

“Hey there,” he leans in to kiss the back of her neck playfully.

“Reese, stop that, I’m all wet.”

“Just the way I like it,” he gives her a lascivious grin and picks up a bowl.

She glances at him out of the corner of her eye, watching as he haphazardly slings the dish rag around.  She smiles, tilting her head towards him, beckoning for another touch of his lips on her skin.

“How was work?” she asks, putting down the plate and turning to face him.  Looping his arms around her waist, he pulls her to him.

“Boring.  I kept thinking, if only my lovely wife would stop by.  I have my own office you know…with a door and everything.”

She laughs, “You are ridiculous.”

“Fine.  If you won’t come to work to satisfy me, I will just have to start coming home earlier.”  He sweeps her over his shoulder, carries her screaming into the bedroom.

He tosses her on the bed.  He unbuttons his shirt, slips his jeans down, as she starts to pull her dress over her head.   Arms raised, eyes covered, he stops her.  Grabbing hold of the fabric, he leans her back, exposing her throat to him.  He kisses her softly, moving out along her collarbone, back in along the line of her bra.

“Reese, please.”

He silences her, kissing her more intently now.  His tongue finds hers, and the taste of him is exquisite.  He lets her go.  And then they are wrapped tightly in one another.  It has always been this way.  She can remember nothing but the feeling of his skin on hers.

“Lana.”

His voice sounds strained, harsh.  She looks up at him.  Red.  Everything is red.

“Why, Lana?”

He pulls away from her and she can see the gaping wound.  There is blood, pouring from him, running down her arms, settling in the creases of the sheets beneath them.  She can feel the cool of the metal in her hand.

“No.  No.  No.  Reese?”

She rolls out from under him, feels the slick wet of blood, so horribly familiar now, as he lies back on the bed.  There is a ragged gash of torn skin and raw flesh crossing his chest.  She watches, frozen, as Reese raises his head to see, fingers fluttering vainly over the laceration as if willing it to heal.  It must have shocked him, the extent of the damage, because she can see his muscles tense and the skin parts even further.

He looks back up at her then.  There is nothing but pain and confusion on his face.  He opens his mouth to speak, but he chokes.  She wipes away blood from his lips.

The room fills with an indistinct haze.  Lana reaches for Reese’s hand, but she cannot find it.  She is overcome with a sense of panic.  The feeling that she must run, and she must run now.  She takes off, slamming into the doorway as she sprints through the house.

She runs, until her lungs burn and her vision is blurry.  She doesn’t know where she is any longer.  It is dark.  Trees lash out and she can feel the blood coursing down her face.  She loses her footing, and suddenly she is falling.  Her arms spin out, grasping for anything to grab hold of, but there is nothing.  She is rolling, smashing head and side and back into ground.  It does not stop.  She is dizzy and cannot breath.  Everything is black.

When she can see again, she is immediately struck by a devastating pain.  It pulsates through her, piercing every piece of her.  She tries to lift her head, but can’t.  A sharp, blinding burn radiates from her throat.  Shaking, she reaches up, and screams.

Her fingers run over the course grain of the wood, the sharp green of pine needles, follow it until they meet the soft flesh of her neck, wet and slick.  Her breath becomes shallow, frenzied.  She gently pulls at the branch, trying to free it from her skin.  The pain is unbearable.  She cries out, screaming for Reese, Dean.

But no one comes for her.

Dream: Part Sixteen

The water is mesmerizing.  She has never seen anything as beautiful as the crystalline flow spilling over and around her.  It surrounds her and becomes her.  She watches each drop shatter against her skin, breaking into a thousand pieces, each one reflecting the light in every direction.  Creating colors she didn’t know existed, greens and yellows, blues that rival the brilliant sheen of Dream.

Rushing past her ears, the water sings to her.  It is an indistinguishable melody, but one she knows she has heard before.  She begins to hum along as she rinses the blood from her hair. The red is beautiful too, as is slowly spirals away from her.  She is almost sad to see it go.

Her dress is heavy, too heavy for her to hold, once she soaks it in the warm water.  It sits around her feet.  It looks comfortable, inviting.  She lies down on top of it, letting the water rain down.  It feels as though Dean is holding her, arms wrapped gently around her, fingers trailing lightly over her skin.  She closes her eyes.

When she opens them again, she is freezing, her skin feels hard and her legs are stiff.  She turns off the water and struggles to stand.  It is nearly dark.

“Fuck.”

She wrings out her dress, slips it over her head.  It is cold and wet, but she doesn’t care.  She wants to go home.  Stepping gently around the edge of the bed, averting her eyes, she grabs several bags of Dream and stuffs them into her purse.  She hesitates.  Then takes another DayDream, rips it open and empties it onto her skin.  Rubbing it in hastily, she dials the front desk and asks for a cab.

 


 

 

Stumbling from the taxi, she lands on her knees in the gravel walkway leading to the front door.

“Shit, lady, you okay?”

She stands, brushing the rocks away.  She tries to ignore the damp spot she has left on the seat, water dripping from her dress.  Money exchanges hands.

“Fine. Thanks.”

The walk to the house seems to take hours, and she can’t remember her feet ever touching the ground.  Reese is there at the door, and everything is red.  Did she forget to wash the blood away?

But this is different.  The air itself is red, a crushing, angry red.  It vibrates through her, sets her teeth on edge.  It is coming from her husband.

“I know.”

Even through the haze, she doesn’t have to ask.  Somehow, he has found out about Dean.

She watches him speak, and realizes that though she has been afraid to hear this for so long, there is a raw beauty in the writhing and twisting of these words on his lips.  She is free.

He opens the door for her, and lets her walk past him into the house.  She does not stop until she reaches the bedroom and gently closes the door.

Pulling out the bags of Dream, she crawls into bed.  She slides under the covers, wrapping them tightly around her.  She opens one, then another, then another, letting the blue powder trickle over her tongue and settle on her gums and teeth.

Lana reaches over to the nightstand to set the empty plastic aside and glances at the picture of her and Reese, so long ago.  When they had first moved into this house and she had taken such care to decorate each room, nesting Reese had called it, she had hung this picture where she would see it every day.  It had been her favorite from their wedding.  She had loved him so dearly then.  She wished she could remember why.

She slips the band off to read the words inscribed inside.  Love. Always. Reese.

Her head spins.  She closes her hand tightly, holding on to the one piece of him she has not lost.  It is only with fleeting sadness that she shuts her eyes.

Dream: Part Fifteen

He rolls off the bed, grabs his pants and heads into the bathroom.  She lies still, staring up at the ceiling, listening to him rinse the slick scent of her off.  She is cold, but can’t bring herself to move.  She can’t remember how she got here, a place she promised herself she would never be again.  She only meant to come up to give him the money and tell him she was done.  With everything, for good.

“Get up, you’ve got to get out of here,” he tosses her dress onto the bed.

“I thought maybe I could stay for a bit.”  She wanted to  talk, to explain.

“We are not going through this again.  When it’s time to go, you go.  Jesus.”

She slides her feet to the floor, turning her back to him.  She does not want him to see her cry.  She slips into her dress, licking her fingers to rub at a stain near the hem.  She moves closer to the window, standing in front of the desk Dean has currently claimed as his base of operations.  It is littered with mail.  Some already open and empty, others waiting, full, for that quick slice of the knife to spill their illicit contents into his hands.

“Lana, you don’t need to be here,” his tone is brusque, hard.  It hurts her ears.

She runs her hands over the edge of the desk, buying herself time before she can safely look him in the eye.  She turns to face him.  The room is suffocating, there is no space between them.

“Why are you such a bastard?”

He looks at her coldly, “I will pretend that you did not say that. You will leave now.  And you will come back when I tell you to.”

“I MATTER, GOD DAMN IT!”

There is a single moment where they are both silent, eyes locked, letting the aftershock roll over them.  It is broken though, as Dean takes a halting step backwards.  He looks confused, and he clutches at his stomach.  His hands come away a startling red.  She takes a deep breath and moves to catch him.

He grunts, low and angry, as he slides down on the letter opener again.

“You can’t keep pretending that I’m not real once I walk out that door,” Lana whispers in his ear as she lowers him to the floor.

“You crazy bitch,” he spits, the words as hot as the blood she wipes off her face.

“No.  No, I was so good to you. You don’t get to treat me this way.”

She plunges the blade into him a third time, pushing her weight behind it, sinking it into his chest.  She struggles to pull it free.  She can see nothing but blood.  Hear nothing but his groans.  They sound so similar to the ones he makes when she is lying beneath him, willing and open for him.

“I am a good girl,” she cries as she hacks, indiscriminately now, at his face and hands as he tries feebly to protect himself.  “I was your good girl, you were supposed to give a fuck.”

Sobbing, Lana pushes herself up off the floor, away from his brokenness.  She crawls up onto the bed, the sheets sticking to her hands.  Collapsing against the headboard, she throws the blade away from her.  It clatters across the face of the desk, spilling the envelopes to the floor and exposing the DayDream to the sunlight filtering through the greasy window.

There is nothing but the sound of harried breathing, the stench of iron and the color blue.

She moves towards it slowly, peeling herself off the bed.  It is beautiful, the slight shimmer.  It will make everything better.  She tears open the closest bag, squeezing its contents onto her skin.

The DayDream is cool, refreshing, but she doesn’t like the dark purple hue it has cast on her hands and wrists.  She closes her eyes and massages the smooth slick of blood and drugs.  Fifteen minutes.  Fifteen minutes until it takes effect and she can wash herself of this.

Lana wanders into the bathroom, her hands still running one over the other.  Catching her reflection in the mirror, she stops.  There is blood on her face, streaked through her hair.  It is caked on her hands and arms.  Sprayed across her dress.  She is motionless, as though she is waiting for him to get up and leave the room so she can begin to cleanse herself of his shortcomings.

The dress comes off slowly, clinging to her in places.  She leaves it in a puddle on the tile floor.  Thinking Dean may have kept extra shirts, she turns to leave.  That is when she sees the marks he left on her back.  From earlier in the afternoon, long rakes down the soft skin as he dug into her.  She traces her fingers over them gently.  She loved him, once, she thought.

Dropping to her knees, she spews bile and acid across the floor.  It drips from her nose and lips as she chokes, trying to breath.  She retches again, trying to make it to the toilet, crawling through the brackish pool of expelled stomach contents.  Her throat and nasal cavity burn.  Five minutes, just five more minutes and everything will be better.

Dream: Part Fourteen

She is furious with him.  With herself.  With this fucking rain.

Lana tugs at the edge of her dress, wishing she could wear something more sensible.  Glancing around though, at least she doesn’t stand out.  She isn’t sure if that’s a good thing though.  She can feel her rage seething, and tries to at least relax her face into some semblance of approachability.

She tries to recall at what point in the conversation she agreed to this.  She tries to recall why she doesn’t just walk away.  Just go home.   Or go back to Dean and tell him to go fuck himself.  Or better yet, go to Reese at work, dump her purse full of Dream on his desk and tell him where to find the Sandman.  The more she thinks about it that would be the best way to get rid of him for good.  But she doesn’t trust Dean not to take her down with him, and she isn’t sure Reese would let her get away with it either; he lives for his job.

In the middle of her meditation, she notices someone who doesn’t seem all that interested in the merchandise already on display.  Lana strides confidently to him.

“Can I help you, baby?”

“Only if you think you could help me sleep at night.”

“I got something that will keep the nightmares away.”

He comes in close.

“Who are you?”

“You can call me Oneiroi”

“What?”

“Nothing…I take it you aren’t new to this.”

He looks her up and down.  She can feel the overconfidence roll through her.  It sticks in her throat, burns her eyes.  It makes her gag.

“Hell no.  Let me see it.”

She reaches slowly into her purse.  For all his machismo, he seems skittish, as though one quick movement could send him running.  She hands it over.

“What is this shit?”

Lana looks at the bag and realizes she left the hotel with DayDream.  Fuck.

For a moment she panics, and she can sense that he is moments from turning and leaving.  Before pushing the thought violently out of her mind, she thinks about not disappointing Dean.

“Here, let me show you.” She reaches out and takes his hand, runs her fingers lightly over the knuckles before turning his wrist upwards.  He startles, beginning to pull his arm free, but the sensation of her touch causes him to hesitate.  She tears open the package and drips just the smallest hint of blue, no sense in wasting it.  She knows it won’t kick in in time to make the sale, but she’s confident he will buy.

Lana massages the DayDream into the soft, tender skin.

She leans close, her words a warm whisper in his ear, “It’s just like Dream, but you get to stay awake.  Everything feels more real, better.”  She brings her hand up to his face, runs her thumb over his lips, “Everything that touches you lingers, and everything that you touch…”

He looks up at her, and she realizes how young he is.  Sixteen, maybe seventeen.  A child.  She almost feels sorry for him.  His cheeks are red, and his breath is racing.  He takes the bag from her hand and slips her the money.

“Of course, if you don’t like it, you can always go back to Dreaming.”

He looks down as he stuffs the DayDream into his pocket, jumping slightly as a car horn blares down the street.

“How do I find you again?”

She laughs and turns away.

“Same way as last time.  Ask the Sandman for sweet Dreams.”

Across the street in an unmarked car, Reese watches his wife saunter away from the kid, leaving them both wondering, what the hell just happened.  It is some time before he finally pulls away from the curb and turns towards the empty house waiting for him.

Dream: Part Twelve

Reese closes his eyes, stretching his neck slowly to the left until it cracks.

“I hate when you do that.  It makes me want to throw up.”

Smiling, he grabs his coffee from her.

“Why do you think I do it so often?  That and you’re the one causing all my tension.”

“Yeah, I’m sure I am the main pain in your ass.”

Mila flips a folder onto his desk and perches herself in his chair with a grin on her face.

“You are going to fucking love me.”

Reese picks up the file and flips through it while Mila begins explaining.  Before she was transferred to Narcotics, she worked undercover in Vice.  She finds it advantageous to keep up with some of her old contacts, and one of the girls told her that Dream has been making a big appearance.  Not all that surprising on the surface, but apparently it’s a little more nuanced.

Mila’s contact said that the runner that used to supply their end of town showed up about a week ago talking about how several of their corners were going to be annexed.

“Annexed, what the hell does that mean?”

“Apparently, some of the girls are going to start selling Dream on the corners.  But this guy said that they would provide their own girls, if they would provide protection.”

“So renting the corners, for a cut.”

“Got it.”

“The runner.  He say who gave him these orders?”

Mila grinned again.

“Said it came straight from the Sandman himself.”

“So it would be safe to assume, that girls working these corners will have contact with this runner.”

“Seems to be his territory.”

“And he seems to have direct contact with Sandman.  Fuck, me.  We have a lead.”

Dream: Part Nine

Gripping the edge of the sink, she imagines the look in his eyes as he told her to go, that he doesn’t have time for this right now.  How he turned away before she even finished telling him that she wasn’t sure she could do this.  There was no discussion, they both knew she would do whatever he asked her to.

            “I hate you.”

            She takes a deep breath.

            “I seriously, fucking, hate you.”

            Lana looks back to her reflection in the mirror, the tired eyes and worried lips, unsure for a moment if this is directed at Dean or herself.  She decides it doesn’t matter.

            “You treat me like absolute shit.  Do you give a thought to me once I walk out the door?”

            Her grip on the counter has tightened, knuckles turning white as her voice rises.

            “There is never any time to talk, never any room for just the smallest hint of intimacy.  But you expect me to come crawling to you every time you want to touch me, every time you need something from me.”

            She angrily brushes a tear away with the palm of her hand.

            “Once you’re done with me, you can put me away, take a break, I’m not wanted anymore until you feel like using me again.  Do you have any idea how it makes me feel to come when you call, let you do whatever you want, and then to have to listen to you say that you don’t want to see me again for awhile.  I mean nothing to you.”

            Her breath is ragged, the words hurt her chest as they force their way from her lips. She is almost screaming.   

            “I will not exist for you.  I have had enough.  I can’t do this anymore.”

            She slides to the floor.  Her hands are shaking.  Lana lashes out, screaming, kicking the tub and slamming her hand against the wall.  

            She hears her cell ringing from the bedroom, most likely Reese calling to say he’s staying late at the station.  He is always late.  She is always alone.  This house is always dark and empty.

            She closes her eyes and listens to the shrill cry of the phone, lying in her purse surrounded by the bags of Dream Dean made her take.  

            “I hate you.”

Dream: Part Eight

Reese is gone when she finally wakes up.  She stretches, running her fingers over his side of the bed, sheets already cool to the touch.  She wonders if she should just stay here until he comes back.

            There is a message waiting on her phone. 

            Lana slowly slides her feet to the floor, beginning what feels like the inevitable and unavoidable return to Dean.  Will she always come when he calls? 

            _______________________________________________________________

 

            “How’d you get this?” She asks, tracing her fingers over the scar on his arm.  She is lying in another bed, beside someone who feels colder beneath her hands than the empty sheets this morning. 

            He sighs and shifts away from her, “I don’t really remember.  Accident as a kid, I guess.  Why does it matter?” 

            “It doesn’t…I just wanted to talk about something other than your work for awhile.”

            Dean is silent. 

            She rolls onto her back and stares at the ceiling for a moment.  Then, bringing her hands up in front of her, she continues, “Like, this one here on my pinky.”  She splays her fingers out for him to see, small, pale and crescent shaped. 

            “Got it caught in a folding chair in the sixth grade.”

            He laughs.  Encouraged, she moves on, cataloging her broken pieces for him.

            “This one here,” she gently lifts her breast and exposes the thin scar running beneath it, “surgery.”

            “Just on the one?”

            “Not that kind of surgery.  I had to have a tube put in when I was younger.”

            There is another pause, but it is less hostile. 

            She turns to him, placing her wrist on his chest.  These scars are faint, but visible.  Tally marks keeping their gruesome score.  He takes her thin arm in his hand and sits her up. 

            “Lana.”

            She curls into him, but can feel him stiffen slightly at this intimacy. 

            “What, Dean?” At least he will give her that.  The feel of his name on her lips.  He belongs to her as long as she can hold those letters on her tongue. 

            “Lana, I asked you here because I need you to do something for me.”

            She smiles, relishing the sound of her name in his mouth, pretending that she is his.  “Of course, name it.”

            “I need you to start delivering Dream for me.”

Dream: Part Seven

It is dark when he pulls into the driveway.  He sits there, flipping through the case file, going over the photos of runners, thinking that somehow he can trace backwards to the source.  It is a moment before he realizes that there are no lights on in the house, which worries him.  Lana should have been back by now. 

            When he enters the kitchen he can hear the shower running from down the hall.  He glances at the clock.  10:30.  No wonder.  He hopes she didn’t wait on him for dinner.  He knows it disappoints her when he doesn’t show up for meals, something she takes time with, pours her soul into.  She takes care when planning menus, choosing ingredients.  Checking his phone for missed calls, he walks down the hall to her. 

            As he reaches for the bedroom light switch, he hears her.  It is a soft sound, but harsh to his ears, and almost indiscernible under the running water.  She is crying. 

            “Lana? Honey, are you alright?”

            He listens at the door for a moment, until the water is shut off and he hears her moving through her evening routine.  Moisturizing, brushing teeth, fighting to regain youth, all in silence.  Reese stretches, pulling off his shirt and throwing it into the corner.  He flops down onto the bed and rolls over, waiting for her.  His mind wanders back to the briefing room, back to the Dream.  How is it getting into the city and who is moving it.  He is missing something. 

            She has slipped in next to him, and he feels her eyes on him. 

            “Have you ever set out, intending to do one thing, but then do something else entirely?” he can hear the hesitation in her voice, “Something, maybe, you wish you hadn’t?”

            She feels tense, stiff, lying so close to him but somehow so far away.  He has let her down again.

            “I’m sorry I missed dinner.  There is just a lot going on.  You can call the station you know, have them page me if you can’t reach me on my cell.  If you need me…”

            There is more silence.

            “I didn’t want to bother you.  We can do dinner tomorrow.”

            As she rolls over to face the wall, she sounds farther away than before.