She brushed her thumb across her lips like Jean Paul Belmondo in a bout de souffle, then looked out the window. Outside a hummingbird was busy doing something with a flowering tree.
“So busy,” she said to no one in particular.
It was a lazy Saturday that now seemed to stretch on, but would be a blip in a week or two. We sat drinking our coffee while our cabin’s power was out. The day was chilly, but sunny. We had kicked around going for a walk or a hike or hitting a happy hour, but everything seemed to require a miniscule amount of energy we just didn’t seem to have. The lack of electricity seemed to extend to our very mitochondria.
“I just,” she paused, “I just can’t seem to get myself together today. Just something,” she gesticulated, “something seems to be blocking me. It’s like some huge, invisible rope has me bound, loose enough to wiggle, but not enough to free myself.”
“That sounds unpleasant.” I said vacantly, it came out sterner than the more neutral tone I was going for.
“Not entirely, the difference between swaddling cloth and a straight jacket could be a matter of opinion. Or context even. I guess it just depends on how you decide to see your fetters.”
“What have you decided about yours, more straight jacket or swaddle?”
“Not really sure, definitely far from prison chains or a noose, fuck the thought is too heavy.” She paused. “More like backpack straps, something to be carried, something that weighs you down, but nothing too severe. It is a burden, but not an impossible one.”
“Interesting.” Which was my go to phrase to remark that someone had articulated an idea, but I didn’t have, or didn’t want to make, a comment on it.
“Something like that.”
“Any idea of the cause?”
A pause hung in the air, outside the hummingbird smacked itself against various flowers. She shrugged, “I’m sure I could figure it out if I tried, but even that seems to require powers of action I just don’t seem to have. That’s the most pernicious type of chain, the kind you wrap around yourself.”
I didn’t have anything to say so I let the comment float with the dust in the sunbeams coming through the windows.
“I didn’t,” she continued after a few moments. “Well, I’m not sure if this is connected, but I didn’t dream last night.”
“I’m not sure I see the connection.”
“I usually dream. I always see it as a screen saver while my mind organizes itself. I used to defragment my computer when I was a kid and after a while the screensaver would come on. Remember the days of the cool screensaver? People used to go out and by that shit specifically. As a kid I read in a book that when you sleep your mind organizes all the data you took in that day, so I guess I just put those two things together. When I don’t dream I feel that my mind didn’t organize itself, I feel out of sorts all day. Even when I otherwise sleep well. I’ve never really understood it.”
She paused again for a few moments. “I’m not really sure if there is a connection, but I guess it’s as good of an explanation as any.”
She looked at me and I shrugged. “Fuck if I know” I said, again in a stronger tone than I wanted.
Outside the hummingbird ran into one of the eaves of our cabin, then flew away confused.