While waiting for sleep to come and lie
beside me, I set a stage in my head and
compose a whole alternate story leading
to a whole alternate now, that one blunder
undone and all other potential blunders
between then and now miraculously avoided,
as though there was only one way to ruin
everything. When I have the plot worked out
and have lined myself up for the kiss, the whole
fiction dissolves, as fictions do, as futures do.
But at least a fiction that’s entirely fantasy
doesn't leave a residue the way the ones
I've acted out do. It never feels like a play
at the start. I don’t notice the curtains,
dark and heavy on the periphery, until
they are pulled shut and the house lights
flicker on, revealing everything.
At least I won't need to worry about
what I look like with my teeth out.
And my teeth are definitely falling out
since I currently don't have to worry
about going to bed with bad breath.
Though probably anyone who gets old
enough with another person to take
their teeth out isn't so worried about it
anymore. My room will only be cluttered
with my own stuff, which doesn't even
fit the definition of clutter, which is
someone else's stuff. The person I spend
the most time annoyed with is myself,
and when I refuse to talk to myself,
instead of looking petty, I just look sane.
Of course I worry about falling, about
paralysis, about a sudden affliction
that comes on too quickly to call anyone.
But worry is equal-opportunity in that
I'll always be able to find something
to worry about. Give me exactly
what I want, the thing that fulfills
every dream I've mostly given up on,
and I'll only worry about losing it.
Suzanne Langlois is a teacher from Portland, Maine. Her collection Bright Glint Gone won the 2019 Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance chapbook award. Her work has appeared in journals such as Quarterly West, Rust + Moth, Leon Literary Review, Cider Press Review, and in the 2022 Best New Poets Anthology. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College.