Waking Dreams
by Lauren Freyer

I stumbled into some stinky liquor store at ten to two discussing nipples really loudly. Well, it wasn’t really a nipple discussion. I’ve just always thought it’s really funny when they put the tiniest little red dots over nipples on porn mags. It’s supposed to be censorship but there’s nothing left to imagine; it just draws more attention to the breasts. So I was yelling at my friend Aston that I would never give these magazines a second look if it weren’t for these little red dots. He said that they scream "Forbidden Nipple." I think that’s some weird film I haven’t seen or book I haven’t read, but Aston’s full of obscure titles that he’s so shocked I’ve never heard of. Then I’ll go out and rent the movie or buy the paperback and be disturbed for like, the next three days.

So, I was trying to decide which 40 I’m gonna buy, and screaming about porn mags and strip clubs, (because the conversation had taken us there) and I noticed this small Chinese guy who had to be, like 70 or something, stocking orange juice. He looked sad, and disappointed, he kept looking up at me and shaking his little head. He had a God Bless America pin on his argyle sweater vest, and I thought to myself, Holy Fuck! Here I am going on about naked women when our nation is on the verge of starting the third world war. Then I thought to myself that life is short, so I said nipples one more time only to finish my point and grabbed a Steel Reserve.

Something about walking around San Francisco with an open container is so fulfilling, especially after getting drunk at a party where no one knows who you are. I should have started dancing weird or making up stories about where I’m from. "Yeah, I just moved here from Amarillo, Texas!" But then it could get awkward if the other person’s like, "Oh my God! Me Too!" Then you’d either have to agree with everything the other person said, or give up and apologize.

I asked Aston if he had any pot while we were walking up Hayes, past this bar he’d been trying to get me to go into. I said I was too drunk and asked him again if he had any pot. He waved to the bartender through the window and said that her name was Melinda and she didn’t have a clue who he was. No, he didn’t have any pot so he handed me the 40, which I drank.

Sometimes, a girl’s just gotta get on a swing set; it’s like a cheap high and I’ve never given up my addiction. Aston was telling me to stop bitching about it, that we were headed towards a park and that I’d better shut up or he would give AA my number and tell them I really needed friends.

Right at the entrance to the park there was this smooth looking brother holding a brown paper bag like ours. He yelled out "damn!" as I sauntered under the streetlight, continuing to yell to Aston that I was cute and that he should take me to Hollywood. Aston started laughing and told the guy that Hollywood was his bed’s name. I glared at both of them and ran into the park, only to be met with the blinding absence of light.

I felt tired and lonely all of a sudden, upset with the fact that my red lipstick was bleeding and that the wind had tortured my hair to a point of no return. I stood in a dark patch of the park, clutching my 40 with homemade angora mittens that I made from an old sweater on a rainy night. I looked around for Aston who was peeing in a bush somewhere. A golden retriever came out from around the corner, sniffing the ground. I knew his owner had to be right behind him and might be curious about some random girl standing really still in a park by herself. I didn’t care that I had a brown paper bag in my hands; after all, it’s not my fault that this country has meaningless open container laws. I was just worried that this guy was gonna want to talk to me, or ask me why I was alone or something else creepy. So I turned my back and stumbled up the path to Aston’s bush, just as he was zipping up.

We walked down the grass hill further into the park, and Aston said we were moseying. I thought of it more as a tromp because the grass was getting my shoes wet. I think I made some comment about Converse being modern day moccasins, and he just had to adamantly disagree and then say that there was a particular smell that he attached to moccasins, and that it was more of a funk than a smell. We talked for a while about smell being the number one trigger of memory, and how we could possibly write about it better.

I ranted for a minute about how smell isn’t as important as action and how most of my characters smoke, because I smoke and it gives me a break both in my writing and in life. Did that mean that when Aston is reading about a character lighting a cigarette that he automatically thinks of the smell of an ashtray? He said no, he meant more like new car smell reminding him of the first time he got it on in the backseat of a car. We fell silent; both knowing it was that French model hussy tramp Jasmine. Up until about a week ago, I had always thought he lost his cherry to that older punk rock guru guy who was always slapping Aston’s ass and glaring at me. Then inevitably, he’d pull my hair and say something like, "Black is soooo passe, you really should go blonde."

Aston climbed up on a gnarled tree stump and wiped some crap off his black pea coat. I told him he looked cute and the streetlight above us went out. In the dark again, I decided I wanted love, so I climbed up on the stump next to Aston and leaned over to whisper loud somethings in his ear. The white carnation I was wearing behind my ear fell out. I jumped down to the ground, frantically searching for it, inconsolably upset at the fact that it would be all dirty and somehow I’d convinced myself that I would be just like everyone else without it. I said that last bit aloud and the streetlight came back on. Aston shook his head at me, drank the last of the 40, threw it in the trash, and walked away. I lit a cigarette, wondering how long he would go before turning back.

I stomped the filter into the ground when I saw Aston’s silhouette on the horizon. When he got to the stump, I told him I was leaving, not wanting to look him in the eye. He pulled a carnation out from behind his back. "For a friend." He said, and smiled, a cheap platonic hug followed.

On the way home I decided to take a bus instead of walking or crawling. No one is in their right mind on a MUNI bus at 4 a.m. There were three (or maybe only two) smelly Haight street kids sitting near the driver. They were all dressed in black and one of them wearing a clown mask knew my name. I freaked out and ran past some guy that had a cardboard sign that said "I am the messiah and I want revenge." It looked like it had been written in pink lipstick and I wondered how this guy came across a tube of lipstick, or maybe I didn’t want to know.

I took a seat by a sleeping paramedic, right across from a young punk rock girl who was blasting Siouxsie and the Banshees on her Walkman. I smiled because she was cute, and could have been me three years ago, but she glared at me and continued to stare out the window. I really should have known better, that’s what I would have done when I was kinderpunk too.

That night I dreamt that Aston never came back through the park, and I had to wait there for eternity with some crusty kid in a clown mask, a smooth black man from Amarillo, Texas and a paramedic who thought he was a messiah. Later in the dream, I smoked some pot and ended up eyeing an antique ashtray in a strip club.

Waking up the next morning I was able to remember aspects of my night that had transferred over into sleep. Even silence, which seems to never exist in dreams, was there and just as awkward as an unrequited platonic love. Life, dreams, and the never ending need to assess one’s situation, even the subconscious.

I stumbled out of bed at half past one, peeling a sweaty carnation from my pillowcase; careful not to wake the pretty boy curled up in my bed. His black pea coat was hanging on the bedpost stained with Jack Daniels from when he found me. Quietly, I threw on a simple black dress thinking about coffee, and why it is that people in sweatpants only seem to exist on Sundays.

Lauren Freyer is a 20 year old writer living in Marin and working in San Francisco. Comet Magazine is the first to publish her work. Contact her at
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