6:45AM, Hour 22 

by Charlotte E. Wilde

Almost-7Am funds my narsicistic almost-thoughts the way a change collection lends itself to corner café espressos. I say “almost” because I’m no longer sure after such a trek that the dull blade of these thoughts in particular can be considered as such. Perhaps they’re more akin to a roving state of mindful forgetfulness turned mindless remembrance ad nauseum. As such, almost-7Am finds me by the water, coffee in the sorry hand of my memory-laden night and a would-be smile handed off to the barman in place of a tip because yesterday’s 200% is yet another a well traveled mistake.

I make sure to always remember my mistakes. In the morning the groan of the city streets set the slightest triviality, error, or misshapen comment glowing in my memory.  These tiny nagging instances awaken at the first fluttered lash or yawn where their presence makes itself acutely known even through the wishful haze of just-a-few-more-minutes-plea destined to be ignored. Commence the clicking of my worries and regrets, past missteps point to potential for error revealed as combatable only through constant vigilance and a firm hand. However, when indulgence has been too sweet instead of slinking away into my dreams to manifesting as a bloodied AM cheek or aching jaw we hold nuit blanche. I am glassy, ghost-like, somnombule and they, in some sublime show of feverish loyalty, never quit my side. Step for step I retrace the paths I might have followed or may still take, my preoccupations in stride, turning as I turn onto the cool side of the pillow or night and matching their every breath to mine.

The water always soothes me on such sleepless mornings. Something about the beauty in the grime or the leaning lovers who find themselves looking into each other’s eyes for the first time without the brume of alcohol or darkness, both wondering who will draw the line on an evening turned night, turned morning, soon to turn distant memory as such reckless attachment is wont to do. Vaguely I’m remind of naive pasts less easily relegated to the back of the listless line of my trudging thoughts now destined to lapse like an old lover. Perhaps, instead, it’s a glimmering recognition found in the man with sorry eyes– bent over his bottle on the bench yet willing to look me straight down with an audacity found so rarely in the sober while bringing the last sip of opiate back home to his lips. Or maybe it’s in the people who have begun to emerge from the shells of their mornings, blindly walking to the metro where they’ll sit blankly staring until they blink away another day’s work and deftly trace their well-worn path back again. I glance at the twisting canal lying still as some great omniscient black snake, reconciling the idea that this army of pink-eyed dreamers drank of the water’s verdure or city’s allure to render them complaisant in such a looping doldrum life. Perhaps, after all, it’s a glimpse of the occasional vagrant or pair that linger, like myself, on bridges to stare boldly back at the glassy surface of this turbid water, hoping for mirages or answers that might eventually emerge from the depths as an enterprising Excalibur.

These are the elements, the building blocks, that bring me here after my still-hopefull sleeplessness yields its lolling head to a reconciled stretch-and-creak as I leave my night for dead. These moments comprise the salve applied to the burn of my mind’s friction; a walk, a state, a problem not my own. On mornings like this I let myself be lost where the swaying repetition of movement metronomes my mental meanderings as I learn this city’s secrets. And so I wander pavé-lined streets looking for some unknown reprieve or the catch of a kindred eye– perhaps also seeking some lost truth in the opaque depths of an early morning coffee or canal, perhaps also sparking limping recognition of persistant memories clinging closely to both an unforgotten future and a lingering past.