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All the Same Songs : Separate Scene

Alex McGrath
All the Same Songs ©2011
A Separate Scene



I hung out at the wall until my beer was gone, at which point I felt even more out of place than I already had. Without a drink I wasn’t really doing anything. I sure didn’t want to choke down another one though, just to look busy, so I went back upstairs. When I got back to the hallway I had this awful feeling come over me.

Did you ever have it happen where you’re looking around and you start seeing more than what’s on the surface? I start thinking about the fibers and atoms in everything. How vast it all is. It’s the thought that there are entire universes within the smallest of spaces. It’s scary. It’s scary but whenever I start thinking about that stuff, about how deep everything is, I don’t stop. I just keep going with it because it’s so mesmerizing.

So I started thinking like that, while I was standing there in Morris’ hallway, and I don’t remember how it happened but the next thing I knew I was upstairs in the bathroom, sitting on the floor, with my back against the tub. I thought about filling it up with cold water and getting in.

I was looking around the room, just staring at things. The sink, the throw rug, the light switch… and I was blinking a lot. My eyes were getting too much air on them. I closed them and started picturing this recurring dream I had been having at the time. I walked myself through it again.

I’d been dreaming that I was on the beach on a Summer afternoon. It was one of those completely clear, sunny days when the sand is real hot and you’re practically going blind if you don’t have shades on.

So I’m walking down to the water and it’s mobbed. It’s like everyone in the world picked this day to come to this beach.

I’ve got my umbrella, and a towel, a beach chair, a mini cooler, and a boom box, and I’m struggling to keep from dropping it all. I think about asking somebody for help but decide to forget it. Finally I find a spot and set up. Everyone looks like they’re having the best damn time of their life.

After I get all my stuff situated I decide I’m going to take a walk down the edge of the beach. I know that no one will steal my stuff so it’s ok to leave it there unguarded. For once I’m not worried.

So I’m walking along, and people are passing me by, and I’m looking back every so often, and when I look back I see that the people I’ve passed don’t look quite the same as they did before. It was like that day I went to the beach with Emily. I know it’s gotta be the same people there, but somehow they’re different. It’s like they’re all songs and when I pass them they become a different rendition of their same song, or sometimes a different song altogether. When I looked back some of the people looked a lot better than they had before and some looked so much worse. I don’t just mean physically… in the dream I could tell what kind of person someone was just by looking at them. I could see right through a person, right down into what was in their heart.

After a little more walking I get to a group of people standing together in a circle. They’re talking and laughing loudly, but sometimes they just stand there smiling at each other. Not shy smiles, but familiar, confident smiles. Like they all grew up in the same neighborhood and are lifelong friends. They’re my age. I walk up to one of the girls, the one closest to me. She has long dark hair and a blue bathing suit on. She’s wearing one of those hemp bracelets that look like they can’t ever come off. I always wanted one of those.

I say, "Great day huh?"

I look towards the ocean for a second, and then back at her, and I stand there grinning, hoping she’ll remember me.

She smiles at me but looks very sad, then turns back to her friends for a second before answering me.

"I try to never think about it," she says. "Is that what you’re doing?"

"No, I don’t think so. I don’t like the water though. I mean it’s nice to look at of course, but I’m not much for swimming these days."

"Yeah," she says. "That happened to me too."

Her friends are talking amongst themselves.

"What do you do now?" she asks me.

And that’s where it always ended. No matter how many times I had the dream I always woke up at that part. At the end I don’t know what to say back to her and she just stands there waiting patiently. I know this sounds like a long dream, but every time I had it everything in it happened so fast.

Someone started banging on the bathroom door and I came out of my trance.

"Hey you almost done in there? Got people waiting."

I got to my feet and opened the door and the guy waiting outside pushed past me and went in the bathroom. I could still hear people talking and music playing but things didn’t seem as lively as before. I got that feeling like I just needed to get the fuck out of there. Like the place was about to collapse or something.

It was that same feeling I got during that History final this year, where I wanted to finish the test and jet before something went wrong or before they announced there was actually another part to it or something. When it felt like the building was on fire and everyone was going to get out except me.




Feel free to check out the other material on this site. 

I've written 4 books and the first chapter from my debut novel is on the homepage.       

I also have a short story called "Screen Name" for sale on Amazon.  It is a brisk 20 pages and includes samples from my books at the end.