“Do you know what I’m seeing?”
“I held the spoon gently in my hand, the liquid dripping slowly from the silver. I stared, watching the room spin around me like it detached from its foundation and I was locked in the center, rolling down a hill along with my house.
Funny how none of my books flew from their shelves though, I knew they should. They should have.
The spinning made magic to my mind, in a dastardly kind of way. Like meeting such a handsome woman in a bar, knowing you shouldn’t approach but you do, and she complies to everything you ask, and you have such a devilishly good time. You know the kind of good time you regret amid the decision you’re making, but the kind that isn’t dastardly enough to convince you to stop.
That’s how it felt.
I didn’t drink so much in my youth, it wasn’t until my friend told me about the wonders of that verdant sap that trickled down my throat so playfully. Should I have had more? Doubtful. But I wanted it. In that world spinning moment, I knew I needed it.
I’m glad I prepared two glasses because when the room stopped spinning finally, the sugar all dissolved and I took my second drink of the evening. As soon as it hit my lips again, the magic carousel of couches and armchairs whirled me around into a haze of drunken beauty. Outside the spinning room it was raining, and I could hear that rain plink across my roof. It only felt natural to prepare a few more glasses while I waited.
My friend told me about absinthe only been a few days before. He told me about the wonderful things he saw. Small men in tight clothes carrying mushrooms and tiny tree trunks across a garden in the middle of the road, he said he felt the spins too after the first drink. Mr. Abernathy’s, that’s the brand. He made me promise to get the same stuff. He promised in return that it would give me the best rush of my life.
See, the first time he was green, he met a woman. Beautiful as he could describe, long legs and rich, red hair. He told me her curls bounced more in the first few minutes of meeting him than they did the hours afterward, up until he rolled over and lit had a smoke to cherry top his nightcap. Course, he tried his in a bar, and I have my doubts about his story, but don’t you agree it was a nice night for a nightcap?
I’m talking to you lads like you’d seen it, again. Aren’t I?”
Theodore watched the other men in the fold-out metal chairs nodding, their hands clasped and some of their eyes closed. One of them, though, a youngster. He’d just made it in the previous day, on the cusp of twenty who quickly became Teddy’s favorite. He listened to the stories he told at the group meeting the night before. Soaked them up. He was like the sugar, and Teddy, well Teddy was the Wormwood.
“Of course, not really, but some nights, he felt like it.
So I sat there on my kitchen counter with everything spinning, and just like that, it all stopped. The house, my feet, my hands, the whole world stopped spinning after hell, I don’t know, my fourth or fifth glass. Something out of a dream, it was.
Then it really kicked in. I looked down at the floor and saw grass growing on my linoleum. Little blades of life peeking through my floor and waving in the breeze, breeze that would’ve been a lot better if I coulda felt it though. I knelt down to look at the leaves on a little blue flower when I heard it. This little giggle, playful as ever. Started to wonder if I’d found myself a red haired green woman, handsome as can be to spend the night with me. Turns out, it was just this little girl. Now, I really mean little. She was just a babe of a thing. Maybe four or five inches tall and affixed to a pair of long sparkling wings, like the daughter of a dragonfly had come to greet me and take me to that magical place.
She didn’t speak much at first, her desires more flirtatious and playful than conversational, she took me around the room and made me chase her. Barely more a command than suggestion when I noticed the lass I picked up my feet and moved without a second thought. The room didn’t spin so much, and I knew I could catch her. I jumped over my coffee table and behind the couch, when she crawled out the other side I chased her down the hallway and watched the paintings peel off my walls like faded tape. They plopped onto the floor and danced around like little soldiers, marching out my front door.
The little dragonfly babe kept flitting around and touching things, with every press of her mini-finger new things came to life. My dressed jumped to dancing and my bedsheets started waving in the air. Everywhere I walked I felt the little blades of grass poking me through my socks. I realized then that she didn’t want me to catch her, she wanted me to dance, too. The connection we made over moments left a mark inside of me that I still haven’t gotten over.
But that night, after I realized, I made myself another glass and she met me by the bottle, her little skirt of flowers bouncing as she hopped around my kitchen counter, careful not to kick over my sifting spoon. I downed another and another and when I felt good and ready after the grass grew up to my knees, I danced with my little maiden until the sun rose and set another time.
What wonderful dancing it was, my chest didn’t start to hurt, my old bones didn’t ache and she let me stay in time, even let me lead for a while. A pirouette around the public bathroom and she took me upstairs.
“Is this the time for me?” I wondered aloud, watching her fly back towards my dresser and pause above my bedsheets. I hoped she turn into a much bigger woman, and I hoped that she was still as pretty when she was grown, but she didn’t grow then. Fact is, she never did, she didn’t need to. What she told me was more important than anything we coulda done together. She stopped in front of my bed and turned to face me, a real serious look about her.
Then she spoke, the first and last words the little lass would ever say to me. My green lady held up her hand and blew a kiss before she told me the thing that kept me chasing her forever.
“Mr. Theodore, do you want to know something special?”
I nodded, sipping on another glass.
“You are only a dream.” She flew to my shoulder and perched, whispering into my ear. “A dream a child has on sad and dreary evenings.”
I heard her blow another kiss and that was it for old Teddy. I took off to the floor in a bit of the best sleep I’ve ever needed.
When I woke up the next morning, the grasses left my floor and my little dragonfly danced to another countertop somewhere. But I remembered what she told me. I looked everywhere for what she meant, a series of web searches later and I realized that it must not have meant nothin’ till I ran into my buddy Shane, down at the bar once more, we caught up about how my night went.
I told him the same thing I told all of you, and he consoled me, apologetic I wasn’t greeted by the same kind of nymph that he was, but it got me thinkin, you know?
When you were all little guys, did you think you’d end up here with all these problems? I know I didn’t, so maybe, those children’s dreams really are us, and I was real worried you see, because I was afraid I wasn’t what my childhood self wanted me to be. So I picked up another bottle of Mr. Abernathy’s and headed back to my house. I wanted to try again. To see that fairy, I just wanted to ask her what she meant.
The second time moved much the same as the first, the world spun and I danced in the grass of my kitchen floor, but the second time I didn’t get to have my little dancing partner. Hours passed and I kept going until I slumped out cold in my living room, a silver spoon in hand to greet me in the morning when I woke.
I continued trying, day after day. I called ’em my green hours, the time when I was awake and alive in myself and the sky would speak to me like an old friend. Pretty odd to think of all of that time passing only a few years by. After many, many green hours I started to realize that it took too many drinks to get the room to spin, I started when I woke up, on my days off, I dripped it over sugar while I brewed a fresh pot of joe that I never ended up drinking. Only weekends at first, but after a few months I thought I’d need to try it at a specific time, first time I met her was somewhere around 9 P.M. but I wanted to be sure I could catch her whenever she returned, so I had sugar on my lips all hours of the day.
It consumed me, and eventually, I left my place of work to chase her forever.
I’m not like the rest of you guys, you know? I didn’t think so, at first. I wasn’t chasing the feeling. I just wanted to talk to her so bad. When I saw the little dragonfly, it was beautiful and catastrophic, like the sun crashed into the moon and I became one broken piece of a million shattered planets. I needed to see her again, so I bought up all the bottles I could and locked myself in my room.
Couldn’t tell you how much time had passed, because day in and day out I lived a green life. Grass on the kitchen tile and all, until one day I finished every last drop of the stuff. I couldn’t stand or even move, but I heard her giggling so faint.
The grass stopped growing quite as long by then.
I went up to the liquor store to pick up another bottle and the teller told me he’d never heard of Mr. Abernathy’s Absinthe before. Convinced me I made up the whole thing, and kicked me out of the store, telling me I didn’t need anymore anyway. When I got back home I knew how badly I needed it. This terrible itching on my skin, like I grew allergic to the absence of my kitchen grass, whispered to me. Told me to find some more so I searched and searched, looking for another bottle online, anywhere I could find it but… I couldn’t.
Even called Shane and my sister to see if they could find some for me, but neither of them knew what I was talking about.
I started to think there might be a problem around there. With the world in one place and my living room floor just a living room floor for the first time in a long time, I called my sister again and had her drive me here. After they checked me in and kept me away from the stuff for a few days, my head started to clear up. Everything but the memory of that little sprite I met in my living room that first day.
Sad, honestly. To think that we’re all living this complicated tapestry and none of us had the stability to stay outta a place like this. Maybe each of you got to meet a little fairy too, you know?
Yesterday, when the counselor was talking to us about meaning and purpose, trying to find something to help us get back into society when we get out of here, I started wondering if it was ever real. Mr. Abernathy’s, I mean.
I couldn’t tell you.”
Theodore looked around the room to all the other men who’d put their heads in their hands, frustrated he was telling the same story for what could have easily been the hundredth time, but unable to interrupt him per their counselor’s orders. They buried their heads behind their palms and distracted themselves counting the cracks in the linoleum, praying to see grass blades sprout from below.
“Anyway, that’s all I have for today. Maybe I’ll think of something more by tomorrow.”
The groan from each of the others resounded, except for the young man that Theodore found a fondness for. The only one among them whose head wasn’t buried in his hands.
The men were dismissed with a half-hearted wave by the counselor, who packed his things quickly and escaped down the hallway to get away from Teddy before he launched into yet another story about the dragonfly daughter.
As he watched the rest of the men move sluggishly to their rooms, he turned away from the boy, who was holding a bright green smile behind his lips, and Teddy saw it.
“Do you know what I know?” He turned to face the boy, a wave of joy washing over him. The boy responded as they walked back to their separate rooms.
“Old Teddy, we do not remember events, we remember the last time we remembered an event. Forever increasing our distance from the moment of learning, or passion, or sorrow. Ever changing and becoming something new with each recalled + long forgotten past day.”
Teddy stopped before his bedroom door as the boy stepped within. From the depths of his bedroom, Theodore heard a chorus of giggling sprites hiding within.
He couldn’t follow along though, before the lights went out and he was sent to his room for the night.
But he heard them still, laughing along with his new friend, and bringing back so many vivid, wonderful memories of each green minute behind his own green smile.