To Take a Nap Upon a Table
1.) A tabletop is a curious and terrifying place to rest. To take a nap upon a table is to call to mind everything one has ever forgotten or ignored.
2.) Nothing much must occur before the taking of a nap upon a table save the decision to take one upon one.
3.) The type of table one selects does not much matter. One can choose a table of wood or of glass or of cool stainless steel.
3.1) What matters most is that the table is exactly that, a table and not something else.
3.2) What matters second most is that the table is long enough to be lain upon without one’s head or toes hanging off.
4.) Begin by climbing thereon. This can be accomplished in one of two ways.
4.01) Way one requires one to first face the table, to flatten both palms plus one knee upon it, to use one’s leg strength to elevate and then turn, then sit, then lie back.
4.02) Way two requires one to turn one’s back to the table and to back into a seated position and to then scoot one’s sit bones over the table’s center and to lift both legs and to lie back.
4.1) One will note advantages and disadvantages to any method.
4.11) One will note way one requires way more energy but allows one to look the table in the eye, while way two is more efficient but asks one to back into an unseen situation.
5.) One now lies upon a table. Napping is near.
5.01) A nap is very special degree of slumber. During a nap the mind does not retreat from wakefulness but dwells in between, allowing the body to make its choice, to remain conscious or to submerge briefly like a duck.
5.1) One will note there is no coziness amid a tabletop, no basic warmth or sense of protection. Even a coffin feels safer.
5.2) One should abstain from using a pillow, for a pillow will only smother those lessons awaiting one in the closed-eye dark.
5.3) There is a true flatness to napping upon a table that is surprising the first time it is encountered and gets one thinking. Does one typically sleep curled up like a fetus? Does one prefer to snooze face down like a failed swimmer? These postures must now be left behind.
5.31) There is only one posture for one who wishes to nap upon a table.
5.32) This one: lie flat on one’s back, each hand to each side, ankles uncrossed, eyes closed, breath slow and tidal.
6.) Napping is now underway.
6.01) Or is it?
6.1) Here lies the gift of the brief tabletop reprieve, the confusion of the conscious and the subconscious, of the not quite awake and the not quite asleep. One’s words and visions become club-footed dance friends across an unbiased stage.
6.2) One visits a vast stone hall, a high ceilinged expanse filled with smoke and meat. The body of the king has been laid out, laid out across the very board at whose head he feasted so long. Cups are filled and emptied with wine and with tears in his cooling coin-eyed midst.
6.21) One then descends to the basement of a sterile tower. All here is pale blue and scentless, everything swabbed until it shines. No adornments. No clothing. Upon long metal mirrored shelves the perished stretch while a surgeon’s scalpel undertakes the final line of questioning.
6.3) One hears a voice say, “Language is the altar / is the all tall table / all tarred and papered.”
6.31) Then a second time and a third.
6.32) Words echo sourcelessly in memory’s arena.
6.33) Doctor Garden, their speaker / professor of the ink-black robe / mortar board and benighted sleeves / knighted reams of paper / his desk broader than a boat.
6.34) This boat / cutting across the Styx / cruising / crews sing while one wiggles rapid-eyed against the bound-to mast.
7.) One realizes one always knows when a nap is nearly though.
7.1) This nap is nearly through.
7.2) A nap by definition is fleeting, whereas sleep could conceivably continue forever and death is simply done.
7.3) One is nearly awake now. Just one final question: “Does this feeling feel more like a rising or a dropping?”
8.) One wakes upon a table of wood or of glass or of cool stainless steal, having successfully napped.
8.1) The nap is passed.
9.) Nothing much must happen when one concludes a tabletop nap. Simply get off the table.
9.1) That’s it.
10.) Typical follow-up question: “Must one make a habit of napping upon a table to achieve maximum insight?”
10.1) Typical answer: “Not really. Often one nap will do the trick.”
10.11) For the world is big and one can nap all over it if one wants and one certainly should.
Dan Tremaglio’s stories have appeared in various publications, including Tammy, Thrice Fiction, Literary Orphans, and Gravel, and twice been named a finalist for the Calvino Prize. He teaches creative writing and literature at Bellevue College outside Seattle where he is a senior editor for the journal Belletrist.