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Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!


A lot of nights I can’t sleep. I don’t know if it’s insomnia or anxiety or maybe I am just not wired to sleep as much as other people do. Who am I kidding. I am always tired. Still. A lot of nights I can’t sleep. But the nights that I can, are always the nights that my neighbor can’t control her dog.


My neighbor’s dog is named Bruce. I know because in the three years since I moved into this house, it is the name I have heard more times than any other, and that is including my own. I do not know my neighbor’s name. I do know that my neighbor has a 3 foot fence and a dog named Bruce and that Bruce is almost as tall as me. I also know that Bruce does not stay in my neighbor’s yard because of her three foot fence. I know this because the nights that I can sleep, Bruce promptly jumps over this fence with ease. Bruce is exceptionally fast, or my neighbor whose name I do not know, is exceptionally slow. I know this because when Bruce swan dives over my neighbor’s three foot high fence, he is immediately running up and down the block, and always out of my neighbor’s grasp. When I am no longer tired, Bruce returns to his own yard of his own accord and my neighbor stops yelling out his name to no avail. 


The important thing to keep in mind here is that Bruce doesn’t have to stay in his yard.


I am no longer tired. Bruce is back in his yard. I still do not know my neighbor’s name. I roll over and feel too warm. When I was young, I loved to sleep with people. Young is figurative here. Young only means before now. When I was young, sleeping with another person was a comfort. It didn’t have to be romantic. The intimacy of another person’s heat sharing a space with me, always made me content, plutonic or otherwise.


Most pediatricians warn parents to keep their newborns away from cats, especially kittens, while sleeping. Cats enjoy warm bodies. Think of them as furry, heat-seeking missiles. The cat will sense the infant’s body heat, smell the sweet milk on the baby’s breath, and be unable to resist. The child cannot turn their head away from this cuddling due to its lack of neck muscles, and oftentimes asphyxiates. Don’t keep bedding in your babies’ cribs. If a blanket or pillow is too close to the newborn’s face it will breathe back in its own C02 and die of oxygen deprivation. Some doctors think this may be one of the leading causes of SIDS also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Also known as life abandoning the infant without any confirmed reason.


So, I am no longer tired, Bruce is back in his yard, and I am an infant with a cat. I want to sleep alone. I want to breathe clean air and take up space.


I flip to my side and think of the word abandoned. Think of when I became afraid to leave. Think of the word control. I am an infant with a blanket. On my nightstand are sleeping pills. In my driveway is a car.


When I was six my father had a taste of failure. A lot of nights I can’t sleep. I nestled small face into over-used pillow. I swallowed blushing light as my sister cooed whimpers from the closet. My feet bare-tiptoed. My knuckles tickled nose. My mouth shushed. My mother screamed. My father held gun to head. My father never fired. My father watched me watching. The police took the guns. The police left me watching. I am an infant in a naked crib.


When I was twenty-seven I participated in a leadership seminar meant to break down barriers caused by past traumas. I was put in a van with my eyes covered. Blind and uninformed, I was left in the center of a field with a group of twenty other people in blindfolds. When a bullhorn told us to remove our blindfolds, I realized I was actually blind. I remembered the word abandoned.


When I was twenty-four I had an affair with a man who knew the word abandoned. We were only ever looking for the infant in one another. We were young. I fell asleep, infant mouth to infant mouth. I am an infant overdosed on C02.


When I was eight I learned that some people excel at failure. I experienced death due to illness exacerbated by overdoses on life and on failures. I learned that a failure doesn’t just belong to the person failing. My uncle died. I consumed that failure.


When I was twenty-seven, again, I met death, again. I met the unfairness of death. The blackness of death. I held death in my hand. Whispered for it leave. Plead for my grandfather to stay. He promised to stay as wind, to stay as words, to stay as birdsong. My fence was three feet. I couldn’t hold him. 


When I was eighteen I was married. The baby came fast. The husband left fast. I met my first failure in a bathtub with a bottle of pills. I vomited through the steam. I am an infant with an infant. 


When I was twenty-nine I experienced my second failure. When I was twenty-nine I came into my inheritance for the second time.


I think of the word control. I am an infant with a blanket. On my nightstand are sleeping pills. In my driveway is a car. 


The important thing to keep in mind here is that Bruce doesn’t have to stay in his yard.

Emily Perkovich is from the Chicago-land area. She is an Art Evaluator for Persephone's Daughters and she spends her free time in the city with her family. Her work strives to erase the stigma surrounding trauma victims and their responses. She is previously published with Wide Eyes Publishing, Potted Purple, Prometheus Dreaming, and Awakened Voices among others. Her chapbook Expulsion was released in April 2020 with Witches N Pink.

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