Inspired by the song “Peg” by Steely Dan
In your favorite foreign movie, the husband wakes at night and sees the elderly neighbor woman in the bedroom, staring at his wife, the young sleepwalker, S, tied to the bed for her own protection and played by aspiring actress, Peg. Later, the husband, finding S gone with ropes untied, recalls a flashback of previous times. After asking the elderly neighbor, J, for help, they find S sleeping high in a tree and talk her down. Inside J’s house, the husband and J watch as S freaks out about an old B-movie poster hanging over J’s garish sofa. The faded poster is of a woman running from a monster. S says that’s what she has been running from, asking J about the poster and discovering from J that J was the actress in the poster and the monster was a creature J’s husband, a screenwriter, created to explain the death of his mother after J married her son. Later at home, S is terrified and keeps talking about the poster, and her husband explains, again, that the monster is a made-up creation. S says she wasn’t running from the monster but the woman in the poster. That’s what she has been running from all these nights since her sleepwalking started, since they moved into the house next to the elderly neighbor. The husband wakes up at night and sees the old woman in the bedroom, staring at Peg.
Aimee Parkison is the author of Girl Zoo, Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman, Woman with Dark Horses, The Innocent Party, and The Petals of Your Eyes. Parkison has won the FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize, a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, and the North American Review Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize. She teaches in the creative writing program at Oklahoma State University and serves on FC2’s Boards of Directors.