She baked him cookies. Well the 3d printer made them as she mentioned the recipe to him in the video chat with only a brief hesitation as the computer searched for her recipe. She smiled and told him of her day the day before and how she had made a new vase in her art class. A few seconds later he had it in his hands.
He looked at the very old cat as it came close to him and could almost see cityscapes in its skeletal maze under its dark fur, see the shadows of late winter days in the fur, something of rivers in its slow steady walk with bad paws. He pet the cat behind its ears and saw it had little fangs like an adorable bat. The cat rested her tired head on his outstretched fingers, teeth in but he did not care and she fell asleep. The late day light and her curling into his armpit made her for a time look like she had become a kitten once again. He slowly pet her neck and back, a kind of soft covered architecture like dirigibles or bridges as the tired cat slept heartily on his slightly faded green sweater. A meteor could very well strike the earth outside and Thomas would not move from here, not one single inch.
He had that dream again. The one with that road, that hill, that intersection never born of the dust and pollen of the real world. The dream with that sense, that gut rumbling dread and that hum of unease , that dream with the car that never has the same driver, never the same interior, never the same engine sound, but 20 years of it navigating those damn hills, stopping at that intersection of pure impasse.
The dream was one of those odd places in sleep, some odd neural drain pipe mold collection, he had a few such places imagined that his dreams sutured to. One was an impossible university campus that had the greenest hills, most gorgeous Spanish style roofed buildings, a cafeteria always open partially inside a giant redwood tree and a dorm he shared with the ghosts of past. Another was a humble 50’s home with a perpetually flooded front yard he for 20 years had toured with a dull, droning real estate agent and his best friend. Another was a thousand odd variations of his parents house sold long ago; it at times had hidden rooms in walls and tenants in rooms inside the aging, dull stairs, at times it had a glimmering impossible view of ocean from the San Fernando valley. Other times it sank into that ocean, eaten as though waves were foamed with teeth and tide was a bored potent mouth.
The balloons had begun to wither and shrivel over the television like a physical manifestation of a curdled wish. The shiny metallic things with inspirational phrases like “here’s to remission!” and “hope springs eternal!” were now illegible between the faux metallic folds as the orbs shrank toward an inevitable death to gravity and loss of gas. The banner on the wall with a similar phrase had cobwebs on a corner and sagged in the middle more noticeably. Hope had always been an abstract concept, but these cousins of birthday cakes and new years party hats never quite held it in their ballast or belly but the bright colors and thought behind had for a time lit the room like a shard cut as from a high floating ball of cheese as sun brought cheer in.
“I dwelled on the thing Daniel said about the gifts seeming like a museum. But I changed it a little, maybe to make their situation less sad. I thought: Every person is a museum. Everyone is a museum.” & “I wanted to see how long I could go without texting or calling you. It was like seeing how long I could hold my breath underwater.”