You told me that you wished you had recorded yourself sleeping while you were still together. You thought that maybe if you had sent the mp3 file to Toronto she would have listened, and then maybe she wouldn’t have gotten cold and she wouldn’t have sent you that email explaining that her other ex, the one before you, was better. She would hear your snores and would remember the white of your duvet, and the way the wooden wings of the birds you made floated above the bed, the way you always fell asleep listening to music. She would hear Les Champs-Élysées playing in the background of your snores and she would remember how your cat used to paw at her hair when she slept, so that when she woke her hair would be the nest for a contented cat and she would smell of cat piss the next day. She would hear the faint thud of a door and drunken conversation, and remember how your roommate used to smoke in endless streams, making your habit less visible even as you pierced the smoke with your tongue, sending spiralling smoke rings up to the bird wings, one, two, three. She would have listened for sounds of theatricality, the too-loud snore. She knew you only ever pretended to sleep. That’s why she left you.
You told me you once recorded yourself sleeping for a different girl, one you never cared about. You met online, and talked about your depression. You shared fuzzy pictures of sleeping plants that you thought were ‘evocative.’ She was not as educated as you, and that made you feel superior and bored at the same time. She liked you and you never quite figured out why. She said it was just a feeling she had, which made you feel that maybe she didn’t know either, or that maybe she was just lonely. She pretended to like your cat on Skype, but you could tell that she thought it was just another cat and she was bored, which made you think that maybe she would get bored with you as well. You told her that you were writing an essay about hereditary feelings in the Cold War from a postcolonial perspective. You said dialectic, and seminal fluids, and paranoia, and felt nothing. She looked confused and said ‘that sounded cool.’ She said maybe she would come to visit. You said that was okay, you would send a recording of yourself sleeping and that would be almost the same. She said ‘okay,’ and looked confused, but the picture cut off so that was okay.
The morning after the night you recorded yourself you were excited. You felt novel. You felt spontaneous and quirky, like you were someone you would like to know. You uploaded the mp3 in the cold room and pressed play. You had left the window a bit open, and your walls were thinner than you thought. You could hear cars passing by, and your roommate yelling. Somebody was playing the Beach Boys badly. You could hear somebody, a girl, saying ‘I have to go home,’ repeatedly. Her voice sounded happy. You try and listen for the music that you play every night as you go to sleep, but it’s too faint, only the singer stands out sometimes, repeating ‘yes you do, yes you do…’ You listen and listen but you can’t hear you at all. You try and remember who it was that told you that you snored, but you can’t. You can hear the cat scratching in the corner of the room, and the slam of the door. Everything’s there but you. You don’t send the mp3 to the girl you don’t care about, and she stops caring about you.
I Got You These Flowers
I got you these flowers because you are definitely dying.
I got you these flowers out of a city garden,
Rows of annuals & bulbs circled by a runaround,
The cars passed me by hesitantly
As I crouched & selected pansies & tulips,
They would not stay the same height,
So I tossed the pansies in the bike path,
& these are the tulips,
The stems are broken
I broke them.
I was going to get you dandelions from the hospital lawn,
But they all smelled of dog piss,
The dandelion is my spirit animal.
I once heard that there are no blue tulips,
Not even in Holland,
I think you told me that,
It was on one of your good days,
When the world was your open garden,
& your conversation the fertilizer,
But in the end,
I guess you were always full of shit.
So are these flowers,
I guess that’s what feeds life,
& I always did think you smelled good,
I’d steal your perfume when I was young,
& try to feel as though
The world was my garden
But I always knew
I was full of shit.
Charis Marsh is a writer / graduate student living in Montréal’s Mile End and studying at McGill University. She has published three YA novels with Dundurn Press, has read for Montréal’s Lit Pop Reading Series, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Irving Layton Award. She also writes things for Thought Catalogue when she has insomnia.