:: Article

We Are Awake

By Myfanwy Collins

We were looking for a supermarket but the one I remembered had closed down. The K-Mart was gone, too. My sister and I had bought bathing suits there one year. Not good quality, they did not last the summer.

The dog was in the back of the car, whining because he had diarrhea from the trip. We parked in the middle of the lot and walked him in the tall, yellow grass.

I held back and listened to Jess whisper to the dog, “Good boy. That’s right. Good boy.”

They often talked like this—without me. Weeds grew up between the cracks in the asphalt.

I remembered that the grocery store had a wall of videotapes on the left when you walked in. I rented Eraserhead but fell asleep watching it. Where were the videos now that the store was gone? Where was Eraserhead?


We are awake, often, in the night. There are noises.

There are owls.

One who sounds like an owl, and one who sounds like your soul slipping past death.

There are screams. Inhuman. Inhumane. Animals killing each other or fucking—it’s hard to tell the difference between the two.

And the dog barks and comes to the bed for comfort. We stroke his head and lie there listening.

When you sleep in a tent you hear every whisper of the people in the site next to yours. Every mouse sifting through the fire pit. Every widowmaker in the trees that cracks and falls to the ground.

But in a house, you should hear only the hum of the refrigerator. The furnace ticking on and off. The buzz of your computer.

You should not hear the tall pines moaning in the wind.


We swam out to the inner tube that was anchored to one of the moorings. The sun had mostly set, but a sliver of it remained on the edge of the mountains to the west.

The water would have been soupy, the air chill, as we clung to the inner tube. He told me again that no matter where you are on Nova Scotia you are only 15 miles from the ocean.

It is an island.

And we were an island. The two of us out in the lake like that as the sun set and the sky got dark, as the moon rose and the stars came out, as we kicked slowly through the water, weeds tangling our feet.

We were an island as the wind calmed and the sound of voices across the lake carried, as the lights came on in camps and cottages, as the last boats made their way in from fishing.

We were an island as I held my mouth to the edge of the water and blew bubbles, hoping that he would know that they were really kisses, making their way through the water to his skin.

Myfanwy Collins has work published or forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Cream City Review, AGNI, The Jabberwork Review, Caketrain, juked, elimae, Swivel, Wild Strawberries, FRiGG, Smokelong Quarterly, Quay and others.


First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, March 10th, 2007.