Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Alarm Clock Dream

Write a short story in which an alarm clock going off in the middle of the story plays some kind of crucial role. Half of the story will be dream and half reality. I don't usually encourage my students to write about dreams (it is very difficult to do it well, and the results are usually clumsy and obvious), but in this case, try to construct a mirror image on either side of this alarm clock sound.
(from prompt # 22 in The 3 AM Epiphany)

Read my response:

"grab" by wheat in your hair

Medusa appears suddenly, behind me but I can see her, from the corner of my eye or so it seems. I wonder if she’d been there all along. We are at the church, my church, where everyone believes in me and what I might say, before I say anything. It is true, whatever it is I will say. I am on a mission, the most important mission. I have to talk to these people, tell them the truth, and it is just out of reach, the truth is just past my reach. I am busy, I have things to do, and Medusa comes suddenly to my side. Following me and watching me closely as if I am teaching her a dance. She matches my movements. I am aware of her presence now throughout the church, my honey colored church. I have to prepare my words, I have been interrupted while preparing to speak to the people of my church, and as we move through the hallways Medusa gets closer and closer, assuming control. I fall behind her and watch in awe as she speaks to the man who built my church, the man who gave me control of my words. They move into an office and I have been so caught up with her that I don’t notice the waters rising. The water is waist deep now and brown, ugly, tepid. It is warm water that keeps rising and I haven’t noticed it, and as I shout out the truth I am muted by the loud loud words of the people in my church, some blaming me and some warning me but all of the words are loud and insistent and more important than mine. There is an urgency now. I look for Medusa, she has been at my side this whole time, I had felt her, but amidst the yelling I hear her, standing in the rafters and pointing down at me, saying my name like a curse word, “e! E! eeE!” Someone pushes me, telling me in a sleepy voice that it is 7:40 and I will be late for work, I am almost late. I wake up and try to wade through the water that isn’t there anymore, I try to push myself into the day, but the weight of sleep and of my dream pulls me down and under the covers and close to the warm bare back of my someone. I am wading through images and all I remember clearly is the honey colored planks of wood and the supposed safety of a church. I get up, slowly, and as quickly as I try to move, time is moving faster than me. There is a pile of clothes that I sort through, eyes adjusting in a dim morning, and I pull out pants and a shirt and I try to think analytically. Do these clothes match? Does it matter if my clothes match if I am late? I remember I parked farther away than I care to walk this morning. I brush my teeth in the bathroom, walking on my tiptoes through the quiet house; I go to someone’s bedside and kiss him before I leave and I try not to let the door slam. Suddenly I realize that I have to think of why I am late, if I am. Instead I listen mindlessly, half-aware, to DJs on a morning talk show. I am anxious to get to work, locked in a kind of race that doesn’t matter. Try to think of why I am late, I construct excuses, I plan the execution of my lie of the day. Traffic, not my fault, car troubles, something. Either I lie, or I say nothing, slipping into my place of work with a quiet prayer that I won’t lose my job, my silly job, because it’s all I have. And I do, I appear and it’s as if I’d been there all along.


  1. good job. medusa always scares the hell out of me.

  2. I believe you could have put the Billy May's alarm clock to work here. His warning of "ONE DIP AND IT'S GONE!!!!!!" should be enough to fan Medusa off. Both her and her snakes.

    Very great entry, though!

  3. It's very interesting and funny!

  4. the morning is a horrible time all by itself, you've written it well. the thoughts that come from habit, trying on clothes and thinking rationally but without trying.
    and still, the dream is pretty fucked up, well done.

  5. It is well written and seems like some of the dreams that I have dreamed before in that it seemed so real, but frustrating When you were on your way to work, thinking of an excuse so that you wouldn't lose your job, did you come to the conclusion that you just may need an alarm clock?
    If you still do not have an alarm clock, come to our store, thewatchtheclock.com


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