Robin’s dream house

another novel i started a while back is about a high school kid who does nothing but read, write, and dream, the latter of which are always about finding extra rooms in the house, and the boy that keeps showing up in them.


Had a dream that I wandered into our darkroom in the basement just to see what Mom had been working on recently, and found a picture of me from when I was small floating in the developer. It was starting to go black so I plucked it out and threw it in the stop bath. You could still see the image—it was of me on my bike on the front walk. I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. My shadow was really long and lanky behind me, and though my hands were on my handlebars, the shadow looked like one hand had been brought up to sort of half-wave at someone. But all this was really dark and the shadows were even darker, so maybe it was just a leaf on the ground or something.

When I looked around at what else was there I realized all the other prints—hanging up to dry, rinsing in the water—were of my dream boy. A couple looked kinda young, but the rest of them were from now, and in half of them he was at least halfway turned away from the camera. I could still tell it was his thin frame though. He has this way of holding his head cocked just a little bit to his right…

The print still soaking in the water was of him looking directly at the camera, arms folded across his chest. At first I thought he looked upset but when I took a closer look I saw he seemed somewhat amused, maybe even trying not to laugh. The water flowing over his face made it look like he winked at me, as if this pictures was a magical one from Harry Potter where the person can move in it while you are watching. I blinked, pulled the photo out of the water and hung it up.

He didn’t look amused anymore but I didn’t really notice because I turned around and saw that the darkroom I was in was actually the one at school with 5 enlargers instead of one. My favorite enlarger had always been the one in the darkest corner where if I was feeling shitty or tired I could crawl under the counter and curl up in the shadow, leaning up against the wall. I napped down there sometimes. I even ate lunch under there when I was feeling particularly misanthropic. I looked around, and seeing no one, I crawled into my corner.

When I leaned up against the wall, however, it gave way. Like the hidey hole door, hinged at the top, it flapped open. So, of course, I crawled through and stood up. On the other side of the wall was another, smaller darkroom. In this one the boy stood, looking at me through the viewfinder of the camera he had up to his face.

“Smile.” **click**

“It’s too dark in here, don’t waste your film.” the only light in the room is the red lamp above us and we are standing in the spill of it, but it’s just enough for the eye to make out the edges of things.

“It’ll come out just fine. Take one of me.” He hands me the camera. It’s really heavy. “No, don’t advance the film. I want a double exposure.” I do as he says and take a picture of him, but he turns his back the split second before I press the shutter. I shrug and hand the camera back. He pulls off the heavy back portion of the camera. “There’s dark sensitive emulsion on the paper in here. This part in my hand has lights that shine in there till you open the shutter. Then the dark seeps in directly onto the paper. No negatives.” He steps over to the tray of developer, pushes an eject button on the light box that spits a piece of 4×6 photo paper right into the chemicals. “In this darkness you need a quick shutter speed, but the real trick is to not leave it in the developer too long.”

He’s already moved it to the stop bath and as I look at it I can see two somewhat cloudy images, though it takes me a while to tell which one is which. Our outlines are well defined by the red light but our forms seem almost see-through. It’s a pretty dark shot but it’s clear our bodies got superimposed onto each other’s a bit. We look like ghosts touching. As he pulls the print out of the stop bath to drop it in the fixer, I grab his wrist and look closer. The way we show up, overlapping on the print, we look like we are kissing. He drops it into the fixer and turns to me, leaning the small of his back against the counter. “Do you like it?”
“Do you like the picture?”
“I dunno. I don’t understand.”
“What don’t you understand?” half of a sideways smile.
“Dark sensitive emulsion?”
“Oh, that. It’s been around since before digital photography, it’s just got a really specialized market. Mostly cuz it tends to take pictures of what can’t be seen. And people tend to not want those things to show up on film.” My eyes won’t stay on him, they are drawn to the print in the fixer. He follows my gaze, picks the photo up and drops it in the water rinse. “Like this. I wasn’t sure it existed till it developed just now.” He points directly at our faces touching.
“It doesn’t exist. It never happened.”
“That’s the fun thing about dark sensitive photography. Especially double exposures of it. It tends to show what could be. It shows potential. If you could take a dark sensitive picture in the closed box with Schrodinger’s cat, you would see an image of an animal that was both alive and dead.”
“What the hell would that look like?”
“I dunno, but a D.S. print would show it.”
“Then how come this print doesn’t show me punching you in the face too?”
“Cuz for Schrodinger’s cat, the odds on its life are 50/50, but the probability, or amount of potentiality, of you punching me is a lot less than that this will happen.” He holds up the kiss and looks at me, kind of hungrily. Even though we are in a darkroom with only a red light I turn away from his gaze cuz I can tell I’m blushing. No one ever looks at me like that and it’s kinda freaking me out. No one really ever looks at me at all, aside from Mom and Dad.

I wonder whether he thinks I’m a boy or a girl. He’s used my name, but never a pronoun cuz we are always talking to each other. And not that it matters to me whether he’s gay or straight or whatever, but it would be nice to know whether I will meet his expectations or not. Cuz there is nothing that can ruin a moment worse than someone thinking you are one thing and then having their perception shift to another, cuz the journey taken during that shift usually disturbs them enough to make them recoil from you. And feeling that kind of rejection is rough. It’s happened to me before. This is how I haven’t really ever kissed anyone, let alone dated someone.

I stand there, facing the back wall, trying to parse out the confusion raging in my gut and making my face hot. And just as I realize I’ve been worried more about his perspective than my own, that I haven’t checked in with myself about whether I would even want to be kissing him, He walks over, grabs my shoulder and turns me around to face him. Holding on to my upper arms with both hands, he looks directly into my eyes. Our faces are half an arm’s length apart and, with a shock as if a bolt of electricity arced between us, I am certain that he sees me as myself. Whoever that is. Whatever that is.

The crazy part is that whatever he sees me as, the hungry look doesn’t leave him. So, just to see what it feels like, I bend forward and, with my heart in my throat, peck him softly on the lips. Just as I start to unbend and breathe again, he reaches for the back of my head and pulls me in, catching my parted lips in his and making my whole body flood with that same hunger. My hands grab his shirt at the waist as I taste the eagerness of his kiss, cuz it makes my breath come hard. I find my footing and lean into it, exploring his mouth with my lips, tongue, and teeth. As we delve further into it, he tugs me forward while backing up to lean on the counter, one hand reaching to the small of my back, pulling my hips and torso up against his. His other hand is in my hair, my fingers find his chin, his neck, his chest. The transparency of his desire causes my body to mirror his and the image of sheer want in me is reflected back at him. A hard pang of pure lust runs through my entire body so hot that I gasp for air and open my eyes…to see my bedroom ceiling.

Jesus, god. that was intense. Whew! Holy hell, my underwear is wet. Hope I didn’t make any noises in my sleep.

Wait, was I really making out with that boy in my dream? Shit. My brain has gone haywire.


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