Before Going to Sleep, Many of us Draw Up a Balance Sheet

By Sean Ennis

Today’s topic in group therapy is “dreams.” What Benny the Therapist intends is a discussion of our life in recovery without drugs and alcohol. But quickly the discussion turns to the ways we are haunted at night during sleep.

Marco R. dreams of being at a wedding, and trying to find a moment when no one would interrupt his time with the bartender. Sheila Y. dreams of being at a party filled with acrid crack smoke that no one else seems to notice. Wayne C. says in his dream he’s driving a car he can’t properly control, navigating backwards with no working brakes.

“NO,” Benny the Therapist says, “Your dreams. Like, your hopes for the future.”

An expert once said dreams are really just wish fulfillment. So Marco R. says, “To drink without consequence.” Sheila Y. says, “To find something I like nearly as much.” Wayne C. says, “Trade stocks again. Finally buy that boat.”

This is not a place to properly dream. The sheets are just a bit too short for the small bed, and the heat is set at 55 degrees. Our roommates want to listen to the BBC, the sounds of waves crashing, Sports Center, when the rest of us prefer quiet. And we know, at 5:30am, LaToya the Client Assistant will barge into the lockless room demanding we wake for breakfast, meetings, meetings, lunch, meeting, meetings, meetings.

Which is not to say we don’t feel safe at night. The campus is buried in the woods, and the only unwanted visitors are coyotes, which seem menacing, but are really just tall cowards and whiners.

Sunday afternoons are for visitors. This is a cruel joke. Those of us with guests are too tired to be put on display. We zombie through the tour. Those without can nap, watch football, but are feeling abandoned.

We’re not allowed to sleep through meetings, but they leave a few of us alone. Crystal S, for instance, whose backstory is the worst, who sits in the back with the hood of her sweatshirt up, fighting bad demons, but not snoring.

The rest of us all snore.

Crystal S. is here for her own safety, her family and friends more toxic than any drug she might be addicted to. But for the two hours a day, when she’s awake, and removes her hood, and smiles, we all can see it. Why others would want to be around her, push her around, surround her like schoolyard bullies She clearly has a lot of love in her heart, and if anyone fucks with Crystal S., they’ll have to answer to all of us.

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Sean Ennis

Sean Ennis / About Author

Sean Ennis is the author of CHASE US: Stories from Little A Press. His fiction has appeared in Tin House, Bayou, and Crazyhorse. Other stories from this specific project have appeared in The Forge and Grist.

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