Sunday, December 14, 2008

Multiple Selves

I am sitting on a large gone-with-the-wind-type staircase wearing a ball gown, complete with crinoline and corset. It feels rigid and tight and I am uncomfortable. I am also sad, rest my head on my hand like I am waiting for someone. There are horse hoofs beating the ground in the distance and I look up to see a carriage approaching. A footman steps out, who I recognize as my brother-in-law, and he hands me an open-faced sandwich, topped with peanut butter and shredded carrot.

“No thank you,” I say and he walks away. Then he comes back and now a second self is sitting beside me and he offers the same sandwich to her. She also declines. I look at her and she looks at me. We think it curious, but are not alarmed by the duplicity.

“Shall we,” I say, and then take her hand and walk over to our mutual brother-in-law standing by the carriage. It is a warm summer night yet the outside of the carriage is covered in ice.

“Can we look inside?” I ask.

He answers gruffly, “Can if you want.” The carriage is shaped like a large pumpkin, perhaps similar to a drawing in a Cinderella book I saw as a child. I move the heavy fabric curtains to the side. It is so cold I can now see my breath. My other self is standing behind me, also trying to peer inside. I squint to see but it is remarkably dark. As my eyes slowly focus, I make out a woman. She appears frozen solid. On her lap curled is a frozen cat. Her hand is wrapped around it as if cuddling in sleep. I look at her face and recognize that it is me in old age. My other self lets out a gasp. We turn and face each other. Then I wake up.