Sometimes I wake up slowly, sloughing off layers of sleep one at a time. On those days, there’s a witching moment where I float, suspended, on the crest of consciousness. My thoughts and feelings run on as normal, but no one’s in the driver’s seat.
Then, half a second behind, comes the tickle in the back of my mind—the nagging sense of unease. The sense that something is wrong. And that’s when I remember who I am, and what I fear, and the dread settles in my veins like cement.
I get up, and the dread rises with me. I go running, and imagine sweating the anxiety out. I shower, and the fear still clings, thick and oily, to my skin.
After Four Cereal Bowls, my aunt never wrote another word or attempted to, a loss to art bemoaned by the literati of late millennial America. Unlike Salinger, Aunt Merry did not disappear so much as she entered a prolonged supernova state, attending every opening and event and party in Manhattan. She snorted coke at Studio 54 and posed nude and did a weekend of prison time after a Vietnam War protest.