– after a short story by Franz Kafka, “The Metamorphosis”, 1915
“And now?” Gregor asked himself, looking around in the darkness. He noticed the motion of a small insect reflecting the sudden light of his cell phone, having received a text from Gertrude, his occasional lover, asking to see him tonight. She has news. The insect flew beyond the screen when it darkened on its timer, the locked phone’s setting being short, towards the streetlight beyond the window, stopping on the glass, thinking as insects do, how to merge with the light. Gregor put the phone down near the water pitcher on the bedside table, exploring possibilities—is she pregnant, do I have a venereal disease, does she love another man. She did not text the reason, no Dear John message, no annoyed emoji, but yet… The streetlight flickered off. Gregor imagined the insect flying from the pane, no longer bound to the scene beyond. His bond to Gertrude was not as strong as for his late wife Sharon. In his dreams, he is compelled to walk towards Sharon as she looks away. He awakens as she turns toward him, the dream a little different each time. Two nights a week, the scene plays out. He opens the phone, types ‘sure’, presses send, and lies back, knowing that he will struggle to stay awake. Gertrude will arrive in ten minutes. What will she be wearing? Will she smile? He doesn’t want to doze off. He thinks that if he falls asleep and has that dream, he must force himself awake before he approaches her, the memory of his wife, he must not be awakened by the doorbell just as she turns to him, the memory must not be changed, he must not see Gertrude in his dream. What does she want? He closes his eyes.