Maps Lie, but They also Organize how we See

By Abby Walsh

It’s been all day, so it’s getting a little fuzzy. I was on the subway, which always looks like a roller coaster in my dreams. there was some confusion about the train I was trying to switch onto, and whether I should wait, or take whatever came and simply adjust my route accordingly. In my hesitation, I didn’t make it to the train I was trying to take when it came, so I decided to walk the length of the platform to kill some time. The platform went on for at least a mile, and it was grassy and filled with bodies milling about like the Coney Island boardwalk in high summer.

The sun beat down on us, but the mood was festive, and there was a path that turned off the grassy knoll of the platform. Somehow I knew that I was still inside the world of the train, so wasn’t worried about having to pay a new fare, or the inevitability of my train eventually coming. Just up the path was a massive dog with a long greyhoundish face. He was as large as at least two horses combined, and rolled around on his back in the sunshine as a regular sized dog nipped and bounced around him, playing like siblings. A woman in gypsy trappings with strange, heavy lidded eyes – eyes that whispered a thick, hard to decipher language of their own – stood in the dappled shade of a tree nearby, watching the dogs rolling around in the grass. She was about to teach a class, and she invited me to join. I don’t remember even noticing the other students, but was cognizant of a rich discussion taking place about the link between fortune telling and psychotherapy.

I don’t know how many classes I took, but I found myself alone with her in the sepia toned house she lived in and taught out of. there was only natural light, and I couldn’t tell if her eyes had a color of their own or simply reflected the surroundings, muttering to themselves. I remember washing dishes in her sink and asking her questions. She listened with coy amusement, but her eyes listened too, and the rest of her. It felt like multiple creatures inside of her also listened, to my questions, to the underlying earnestness that filled my body, the awe I felt at being allowed to exist in her presence, how desperately I tried to gulp in all of the information I was taking in around me – including her answers, which weren’t really answers. I asked how she came by such a large dog. She described to me the dog’s process of teaching himself to grow, first the spine grows long, next the back legs or forelegs, but always paired front or back together becomes large. It was the same process for him to shrink himself, and he writhed beside her as she spoke, obtaining the low-to-the-ground shape of a daschund. I glanced over my shoulder at the other dog, and looking into the shadows of the couch arm it was perched on, backed into the wall next to a closet, I realized he had become a cat with black fur except for around his mouth and paws. Maybe I was looking at a cat that had taught himself how to be a dog, or maybe it didn’t matter what his shape was, I would have recognized his selfness no matter what. He glared at me fiercely, trying to melt into the shadows as my eyes tried to define his shape as a separate shade of darkness.

My dreamself was starting to suspect that She was actually Me and I didn’t want her to know, so I allowed my sudden hunger to flood my senses. The only food she had was a bunch of miniature hamburgers, but before I could poke fun at her about the strange sizes in her house full of shape shifting things, a pressure in my bladder brought me up through the layers of sleep into the early morning light. After taking care of my needs, I knew my own dog must feel similar, but I had been sad to leave the presence of that woman in my dreams and jumped back under the covers, trying to meet up with her again for a few more moments, or to see if my train was going to ever come.

My dog snuggled her nose against my feet and fell back to sleep with me.


Abby build things, primarily with steel or metaphor.  Find more of her here:

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