I wake. I reach for my watch. I press the light button on the watch. I shut my eyes and try to fall asleep. I can’t. I get up. I sit on the toilet. I try to pee while I sit on the toilet. I brush my hair while I sit on the toilet. I wash my hands and brush my teeth. I dress. I go into the kitchen and prepare breakfast. I let the cat out. I let the cat in. I spoon out the cat’s food to a plate and put the plate on the floor. I empty the cat’s water bowl and run fresh water into it till it’s almost filled. I put the bowl on the floor. I take some of my pills. I make coffee. I sit on the toilet. I toast bread. I butter the bread and smear marmalade on it. I let the cat out. I get the newspaper from the end of the driveway. I go back to the house. I have breakfast. I sit on the toilet. I read the newspaper. I let the cat in. I take some more pills. I go in back and start writing where I left off yesterday. I pee. I write. I shave. I go to the Y and work out. I shower in the Y. I go to the market to get a few things. I go back to the house. I let the cat out. I make myself lunch. I lie on my bed for about half an hour. I try to nap. I go to the kitchen and take the rest of my pills. I go in back and write. I let the cat in. I clean his plate and put new cat food on it. I write. I get the mail. I jog. I answer the phone and it’s a recorded message. I read the letter I got today. I prepare dinner. I make myself a drink. I put my dinner in the oven. I sit on the toilet. I make myself another drink and drink it while I read the rest of the newspaper. I eat dinner. I turn on the computer and read a couple of messages to me. I google the word irrefrangible. Then I google the word irrefragable. I write an email. I open a bottle of wine. I sit in my easy chair and read a long short story in a literary magazine and drink a glass of wine. I read a book and sip another glass of wine. I try to remember if the cat’s in or out. I look outside the kitchen door. I check inside the house and see the cat’s sleeping in his favorite spot. I lock the door to the outside. I check to make sure the door to the porch is locked. I spray some sleep aid on my tongue to help me sleep. I make sure the stove burners and oven are off. I shut out all the lights except the one that gets me to the back of the house. Then I shut that one off and turn on my bedroom light. I undress. I sit on the toilet. I brush my teeth. I do some exercises with weights. I get in bed with the book I was reading in the living room. I turn on the radio to the classical music station. I don’t like the piece playing and turn the radio off. I read in bed. I get tired. I look at my watch. I put the book on the night table and shut out the light. I lie on my back. I turn over to my left side. I turn over to my right side. I feel myself falling asleep. I get up to pee three hours later. I pee. I sit on the toilet. I get back in bed. I turn the radio on. I listen to the music for about twenty minutes. I turn off the radio. I look at my watch. I turn off the light. I feel the cat jump onto the bed. I pet its head. I say, “Good boy.” I turn over to my left side. I fall asleep. I dream.

 

 

Stephen Dixon (1936-2019) grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with six siblings. Before he became a college professor at the age of 43, he lived a life, working as a school bus driver, a bartender, a systems analyst, an artist’s model, a middle school teacher, a department store clerk, and a reporter in Washington, D.C., where he interviewed John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev, and L.B.J., among others. He wrote his first short story in 1959 and attributed to his older brother, Jim, a fiction writer, the best advice he had ever gotten: “You have to finish them.” Which advice, having subsequently written over 500 short stories, he decidedly took. His first published short story, “The Chess House,” appeared in The Paris Review in 1963 (#29). He taught at Johns Hopkins University for nearly three decades. He was also a two-time National Book Award nominee—for his novels Frog and Interstate—and his work was selected for four O. Henry Prizes, two Best American selections, three Pushcart Prizes, one Best Stories of the South, two stories in the Norton Anthology of American Literature and possibly others he was too modest to list. He hammered out his fiction on a vintage typewriter. He passed away on November 6th, 2019, at the age of 83.

2 responses to “I Again”

  1. Rachel Newcombe says:

    Oh my gosh, this slays me, stunning.

  2. Adam Robinson says:

    Really good. “I go in back and start writing …” I guess that’s how it’s done.

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