Conscious, Carolina by Zach Murphy

There it was. It was that faint tune. The tune of a song playing on a jukebox from the back room in a dingy bar within the ghost town of a dream. The mysterious sound meandered through Edmund’s head while he lied wide awake during the early hours of the morning—the hours of the morning that probably shouldn’t be called the morning.

Football season was over now and Edmund was alone for a while. He hadn’t even left the house in possibly a week, and his phone might as well have been cast into oblivion. He’d come to the conclusion that he liked it that way and hated it at the same time. And that protruding facial scruff—he was definitely aware of it. But it wasn’t a fashion statement.

He rolled out of bed, and clumsily trudged down the stairs. His weight against the creaking wood was bearish. He slipped his undersized slippers onto his feet, and stepped out onto the backyard patio. The air was stagnant and the ground was slightly damp from a prior polka-dotted drizzle of rain. Edmund gazed out at the world. The cityscape and the sky seemed to have traded places. One was filled with a sprawling concentration of stars, and the other was black and empty.

Edmund lowered his eyelids and slowly inhaled and exhaled. He placed his fingers on his temples and felt the beats of his pulses align. There were pains that he couldn’t remember if he’d ever experienced before or not. Maybe that’s just how things were supposed to feel.

As the sound in his head grew louder and clearer, Edmund opened his eyes and looked over at his neighbor’s silhouette and wondered if he, too, was hearing the same tune.

 

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Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer who somehow ended up in the often chilly but charming land of St. Paul, Minnesota. His stories have appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Emerge Literary Journal, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Fat Cat Magazine, WINK, and the Wayne Literary Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly and loves cats and movies.