When the Past Came Back to Haunt Me
Written by: Alex Sandell

I woke from ecstasy at 6:06 PM. The t.v. was on, just as it was 2 hours earlier, when I fell asleep watching it. The back lights were still glowing above me. Everything was just how I left it, but none of it was the same.

It seemed more depressing, now. More desolate. Alone. I wanted to crawl back into my dream.

The dream that began with my brother and I watching some bizarre horror movie where the main hero was half man (back end) half lioness (front). He/she fought zombies. My brother hated it. It was my favorite movie (hey, there's no accounting for taste, in a dream) of all time, and I couldn't understand why he didn't like it.

He was tired, he said. He wanted to go to sleep. In retrospect, the thought seems strange. My brother falling asleep within my slumber. I asked if we could go to the grocery store first.

Suddenly, we were there. It wasn't the store I'm accustomed to going to in 1998. It was a store in Owatonna. The one that I had only visited once or twice about a decade ago.

My friend Jeff used to live in Owatonna. I didn't seem to remember that, in my dream. I also didn't seem to notice I had my long hair back. The hair I shaved off about two years ago.

At least I still had my leather jacket on.

What did phase me was seeing Jeff, himself. He was looking into the Red Baron pizza display. They were on special. He seemed to have aged greatly. His hair was almost gone, and it had turned completely gray. I didn't mention it.

At least he still had his leather jacket on.

"Hey, Jeff," I said, kind of nervously. It was somehow discomforting seeing him like this. Almost like visiting a corpse. Then he said "hi" and the feeling went away. We began talking about old times and walking through the store. It seemed almost as though I had jumped back a decade.

Suddenly, on our way past the stock room, we passed Robert Jessup. I haven't seen him for years. Not in reality, and not in my dream. I was startled by it. "Hey, Robert," Jeff said, acting as though he had just seen him yesterday.

Robert smiled, looking just like he did in 9th grade. "Hey, Jeff. Alex." It was then we noticed all three of us were wearing our leather jackets. We got a good laugh out of this.

Our laughing was interrupted when I saw my longtime friend Dan walking out of the ice cream freezer. Icy steam surrounded him. Kirk followed. Eric was right behind him. Next came Anna, Sarah, Debbie, Cassy, Steph, Amy, Kris, Ricki and other numerous girlfriends and dates I've had throughout life. Then there was Rich, and Steve, and Bob, and Sean, and Justin and finally Leonard.

All of my old friends. All of us together. Some of them had never met the others, but I created an instant bond between us all. There was so much we had to talk about.

All bitterness and anger was gone. Everyone was just as they were when we were friends forever. All arguments were forgotten. I don't remember ever feeling so content. So happy. So much like I belonged.

Then I woke up.

And Jeff was back in California (presumably with his dark hair still intact). And Robert was still working in some factory, trying to support his children. And Dan was overwhelmed with trying to pay back 8 years of college loans. And Kirk was still handing out quarters at the arcade, most likely just as angry at me now, as he was when we stopped talking 5 years ago. And Eric was still consumed by over-achieving and keeping tabs on his inheritance. And Anna, Sarah, Debbie, Cassy, Steph, Amy, Kris, Ricki and other numerous girlfriends and dates I've had throughout life disappeared like lovers usually do. Some of them leaving an empty spot in my heart, others just a slight blur in the corner of my brain. And Rich was still flipping burgers at McDonald's. And Steve was still fighting to spend time with his estranged child. And Bob was still doing drugs in Mankato. And Sean was still playing the hippie. And Justin was still missing, as he has been for three years. And Leonard was still dead in some graveyard.

And the bitterness was still there. And the anger wasn't gone. And none of us were quite as we were. All arguments were far from forgotten. And I didn't wake up feeling quite so content. I didn't feel very happy. I didn't think I belonged. I actually felt cold and lonely. Where did everyone go?

You may leave things behind and things may leave you, but they're never actually gone. Other things enter your life, and sometimes these things are just perfect.

Other times you just want everything back.

Copyright 1998 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll pull a Freddy Krueger on your ass. So, you better not fall asleep.

As always, send all thoughts, comments, criticisms and pictures of naked people to alex@juicycerebellum.com

This update was created using the "Kristin" font. If you don't have it, you're only getting half the picture.

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