From the Archives: The Grown Up (1981)

in Culture

Always we awake to our metamorphosed condition, to the awareness that the strange body in the bed is our own. Women awake and discover, after centuries of dreaming, that they are men. Worms awaken into birds and music bursts from their astonished throats. An elderly businessman awakes and knows himself to be a plane tree: His leaves reach for the light and swell with growth. Often the amazement is too much to bear, and our awakening is brief. We slip back into being the rudimentary creatures that we were. We become less, and sleep resumes its old sovereignty, until once more, without warning, we awaken.

So it was when Francis awoke, one morning in July. He had gone to bed a 10-year-old; he woke 26 years older. Even before his eyes were open the shock of the transformation had wiped out the particulars of his old identity. He was free, therefore, simply to glory in this enormous fulfillment: the mass of his arms, the breadth of his chest, his sheer immensity. He stood up. He stretched, and touched, with his fingertips, the plaster nubbles of the room’s low ceiling. So big!

And there, in the mirror mounted to the closet door, was the proof of his transformation and its benediction. His, the mustache, the smile, the teeth. His, the legs and arms, the muscled neck, the… His mind, abashed, refused to name it, but it was his as well, with all the rest.

He thought: I must get dressed.

In clothes he was even more amazingly a grown-up. Tying a tie had proved to be beyond him, but there was, in the same drawer as his socks, a single clip-on bow, white polka-dots on maroon. And in the closet, on a shelf, a straw hat.

He clattered down the fire …

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Author: High Times / High Times

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