By Cat Weaver
April stared angrily at the look book copy she’d struggled with all morning. It was impossible to say anything about these dresses. They were the sorts one imagined a first lady might wear: the colors, analogous, cheery, optimistic — the silhouettes, careful, tidy, and classic with below the knee hemlines. Peplums, three quarter sleeves, pearl-friendly necklines.
At noon, she had left off for a quick float at the SOMA center, a spa club that offered a variety of bodily solutions, of which, the floatation therapy was her favorite. No longer called “sensory deprivation” floatation therapy involved climbing into a shallow salt bath and floating for an hour, lights on or off, music should you like it.
The experience usually gave April just the right sort of reboot needed to continue her work as a content writer for websites. But this time she’d fallen into a deep sleep.
Her dream was dark and violent. Worse, April half-knew she was dreaming and felt as though she were watching a movie, and participating in it, all at once. She’d left the SOMA center feeling agitated and a little bit angry.
In the dream, she gets lost in a dystopian city divided into tribes of some sort. She wanders into a dangerous part of city where the poorest, most desperate people live. She finds she’s lost her ID and her phone and cannot even recall where she was going or where she lives.
With her at her desk now, even now as she stared at the featureless faces of the models in the jellybean colored look book, was the feeling that she hadn’t really escaped the dream.
Because in the dream she falls down in an alley and gets covered in the juices and filth from a restaurant’s garbage cans. And then she finds that they’ve closed the gates and she is now a part of this world where everyone wants whatever anyone has.
The fear of rape, pervasive in the dream, seemed, still, to vibrate through her fingers as they shook over the keyboard.
In the dream she knows she must find a clan to ally herself with, to obtain protection. She notices one woman keeps telling all the men she loves them and sleeping with them; it’s her way to avoid rape. April doesn’t want to do this. She casts about for a way to wake up.
Instead the dream becomes April watching the movie of her dream. In the movie of the dream we all notice the sex trader is all cleaned up and wearing a new dress. She tells the tribe that there’s a volunteer service; you give them sex; they clean you up and give you food.
In the dream that’s not a movie April agrees with her clan that this can be a means of escape. They all volunteer to get cleaned up and to service their patrons.
Once out in the clean part of the city, they will blend in and escape. When they find themselves out of the filth and in a vast spa, they discuss what to do next and many of them realize they have no options.
Now, watching the movie that is the dream that she is in, April watches as her friends back out in fear of life on the outside of the hellish corners they know so well. In a final scene, watched by April as she awoke, the sex trader is rubbing garbage on her new clothes and returning to the colony.
Now, staring once again at the bland offerings in the galling look book, April typed: You can smell the appropriateness.