I knew Bonnie was mad, and I knew why she was mad, but Bonnie is either dead or she doesn’t exist. She’s been gone long enough for me to lean out towards “doesn’t exist” and then there she is on the edge of the bed, stroking Sam on the head and keeping one hand on her Browning Automatic Rifle. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her, and I thought she was gone for good, but there she is, and even in my sleep it doesn’t seem real, and even in my sleep, it seems more than real. I look out of the window and see moonlight, the clock read three something, and Sam is the only dog awake. Some part of me knows, truly knows, this isn’t happening, but it is undeniably a reality that I cannot ignore or disallow.
“Welcome back.” I say aloud, and my own voice seems strange, as if somehow I had not spoken at all, but merely thought I had. Sam doesn’t look at me, and Bonnie hesitates a fraction of a second, as if she was so engrossed in petting Sam she hadn’t thought about me being in the room.
“Hello Mike” Bonnie says. She looks over her shoulder at me but doesn’t stop petting Sam at all. Her voice is different now. She doesn’t sound like she’s from Texas anymore. The voice is richer, deeper, and less stressed. But Bonnie looks exactly the same; she’s a short, small woman with red hair and pale skin. She’s wearing a simple dress, and I can see her face for just a second. It’s Bonnie, but she sounds different.
“Are you still mad at me?” I ask. I shift out of the bed slowly, like she taught me to do, without waking either of the other dogs, and she smiles at this.
“I wasn’t mad, Michael, just disappointed.” Bonnie sighs. “You are careless with other people’s feelings and you aren’t aware of it sometimes. It hurts that you do it, but it’s worse that you don’t realize it.”
“Who are you?” I can hear the sound of nothing now. It’s an odd sensation. I’m deaf. There isn’t any sound except a slight ringing in my ears, as if that part of my brain, deprived of audio stimulation, is creating a sound, just as a baseline.
“A ghost, a dream, a memory, a vision, a hallucination, excess brain activity, a lesson from your subconscious…” Bonnie leans back on one elbow and smiles at me. “…a demon, Michael.”
“You’ve never called me Michael before.” I still can’t hear anything.
“No one has, not ever consistently, but I know that isn’t your real name, and how would I know that?” Bonnie laughs but there isn’t any humor in the sound. “You won’t accept any explanation for this no matter what happens, and you know it. Why bother asking? I can frighten you, or give you a wet dream, but as soon as I’m gone you’ll run the same loop over and over again, and you never change a thing. No one can explain this to you, I certainly can’t, and yet you spend a lot of time worrying on it, like you’re looking for something, but you’re not.”
“No.” Bonnie lay back and began to undress, slipping her dress over her head. “Worrying and asking keeps you from having to think about the experience itself. You have to wonder why so you don’t have to survive feeling alive. Ghost, demon, bad dream, bad girl, no matter who I really might be, you’ll never know because you’re trying to find out. You never tried to find me, but you sure as hell have been trying to explain me away. You’ve talked yourself in to believing a half a dozen things but you’ve never once come out and just asked me until now, and you’re still trying figure a way to wake up. You go through life trying to anchor yourself in some reality that you’re sure exists, but you’ve never found it anywhere you’ve gone, and no one you know lives there. It’s a wasteland, Michael, like those places in Texas where nothing will grow and nothing can survive. You try to create these places inside yourself and explain away anything that isn’t there so you’ll never have to face the idea that life is there just to be lived. Everything I’ve ever tried to tell you you’ve tried to figure out what it meant and how it fit in, and hell, most of the things you say you can’t explain where they come from. You write about things that just appear out of nowhere at all and you’re happy with that but you can’t accept the idea that people themselves are like that. You can’t be happy with me until you find out what I am, and you have no idea what you are, do you? You’re a person but what does that mean? You’ll never know the answer of life by looking for questions you have to live it first, and no matter what you think of me, I’ve done that, even if it’s through you.” Bonnie got up and left her clothes and the rifle on the bed.
“They know enough about me to make me real, but you?” Bonnie laughed as she faded into the blackness of the living room. “I have never met anyone more intent in describing to other people what it’s like to be alive and yet try so damn hard not to live. You are a slave to your own mind, your own way of thinking, and you might as well be a monk, or a priest, or some damn eunuch locked up in a damn tower. Who knows, Michael, I sure as hell don’t and I’m not going to waste anymore of your time trying to explain yourself to you.
I woke up standing in the living room with the dogs still asleep. I think I have about half of what she said right.