All original work © 2009 - 2017 Alexey Provolotsky

9 September 2014

THE SMITHS


Morpheus was a pervert. Nightmares are dreams with a bad sense of humour. Jane woke up from the most horrible nightmare imaginable. She dreamt that all boys in her hometown were now wearing Sam Smith's hairstyle. It was not enough that his fucking falsetto was twatting up radio waves. He now had to corrupt every single man under twenty-five, grease up his hair and make him walk around town like a smug loser.

Nothing sexual. The boys were all right. They looked at girls, they ogled girls, they undressed girls with their eyes. They would even make a pass. Pleeeaaase, said the girls. With that hair!?

It was a rather short and uneventful nightmare. Nothing happened. The boys with Sam Smith’s hairstyle were just walking around the streets, faintly flirting. Jane woke up sobbing, for Peter and for Mark and for James and even for Billy whom she had never considered as a possibility. Her hometown never did anything to deserve that. Nothing to answer for.

But can we really tell when a nightmare ends? Jane could not, because the moment she left the house her heart sank so low it punched her stomach. It was really happening. The shit was real. Jane took a deep breath, stuffed the earbuds so deep they almost went through her brain and closed her eyes. When she opened them, Peter was standing in front of her saying good morning. Peter, too, was now sporting this repulsive heresy on his head. Jane thought of an excuse and disappeared around the corner.

She dragged herself through the town. Boys with Sam Smith’s hairstyle were everywhere. Picking their noses, walking their dogs. Popping in and out of bars. Talking to their friends. Hanging the fuck around. World’s freakiest invasion. And the terrible thing was that nobody seemed to mind, which turned Jane’s early morning sobbing into full-blown afternoon weeping. Was she having her period?

“Mum”, she said. “Is this normal?”

“What, the blood?”

“No, the boys.”

“Well, if they like it that way…”.

Jane went into her room and closed the door behind her. She called Debbie. Debbie was currently out of town, kayaking with her parents, and could only marvel at her friend’s story. “Like Sam Smith? But that’s cool”. Debbie said his voice produced orgasmic vibrations that were enough to make her disregard his sexuality. Jane hung up and thought Debbie made more sense when a couple of years back she practiced Lana Del Rey’s pout for three months straight.

Yes, she was happy to fall asleep, but that night Jane had another bad dream. This time it went beyond a hairstyle that looked like Morrissey with a popsicle. This time all the boys in Jane’s hometown started wearing smug hipster clothes. Their shirts were buttoned up all the way to the fucking collars, and that was more than anyone’s heart could take. Jane woke up with cold sweat running nasty streaks down her hair, her forehead and even her cheeks. What the hell kind of bullshit was that.

After an especially long breakfast Jane went outside to buy sleeping pills. Four boys were standing outside the pharmacy, smoking. They started a conversation. The leery bastards, they were actually trying to talk to her. Velvet jackets with humourless black shirts (one of them had a plain white T-shirt underneath) and, of course, the hair. Jane said she was busy, which in the middle of summer was pretty much her saying ‘bugger off’.

Pharmacies were okay. White, sanitized smell and total silence. Supermarkets were so much worse, because you couldn’t buy a can of fucking coke without “Stay With Me” tearing your heart out of your chest, dropping it onto the floor and kicking it against the wall.

And now there was no one to talk to anymore. Debbie was gone and the boys were dead.

There was a reason why Jane bought sleeping pills. That way, she thought, her sleep will be deeper, the nightmares will be gone, and tomorrow MTV will get back inside and everything will get back to normal. Fearing an overdose, Jane swallowed two pills only and jumped into bed. No book this time, no movies, no message boards.

This time Jane couldn’t sleep at all, her mind whirling desperately. She drank water, turned the pillow over seventeen times, listened to music and stared into the black ceiling. She only managed to fall asleep at 6 am when nightmares come even if you don’t fear them. The latest development was physiological. In addition to the heinous hairstyle and the buttoned-up shirts, all boys in Jane’s hometown had suddenly gone chubby. Okay for Mark who was fat and pretty much undateable in the first place, but the once handsome and slender Stephen was socially disfigured, aesthetically mutilated. Jane laughed out a chunk of madness and woke up into her lazy summer.

Day three was scary. Basically, it was like walking through a town invaded by an army of Sam Smiths who (thank Jesus) couldn’t sing. They were all different and yet they were all the same. One of them got close to her in a café and Jane felt too depressed to think of an appropriate swear word.

“May I join you?”

Which boy was that? Jane couldn’t tell anymore. Mercifully, the voice was all right and she didn’t have to splash his face with the hot latte. Instead, she asked:

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Don’t you like it?”

“Like what?”

“Want to go to a gig tonight?”

Jane was repulsed. Was there no place for her anymore or was this the “dystopia” Mr. Bloom liked talking about in his literature classes? In fact, Jane had so many other questions about the boys in her hometown. Has their DNA changed? Their names? Their history?..

There was nothing else to do, so Jane went home. There were two letters on the pavement under her window, and she almost wished “S.S.” stood for Nazis who were about to invade her hometown and turn it into a violent labour camp.

This time Jane took five pills and resolved to add three more if there was no effect. After all, dying was not such a bad option. The effect, though, was immediate. Her mind blacked out into a dream of autumn and a beautiful young man sitting by the river listening to music in huge black stereo headphones. In her dream she knew it was “Death Of A Disco Dancer”. Jane slowly approached him and he heard the muffled September leaves and he turned around. He looked, and his hair was short but wavy. He spoke, and his voice seemed this velvety baritone she fell in love with. And then suddenly she was in a different part of town altogether, and the boys were singing. The new boys who looked exactly like Sam Smith. The chubby fuckers were singing. And then, later: banging on her doors, crawling through her windows. Millions and millions of identical Sam Smiths of her crazy and totally fucked-up hometown. Even in her dream Jane knew it was all over.

Peter was waiting for her outside – thinking cinema, thinking art gallery, thinking river, thinking bar. Peter? This could well be anyone, anyone at all. With that hair, with those clothes, with that body and with that voice. Jane sighed, some heavy cloud flying out of her lungs into the soft summer distance in front of her.

“Am I not the only one?..” 

He sang, he fucking sang it. Jane sighed and took his hand. The summer was in full swing and she was bored anyway.


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