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Sunshine Daydream

By Noah Spencer


By philippa snow

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Full Sunshine Daydream House and Exterior
Sunshine Daydream among grass

Ithaca, whose name was actually Jane, had dropped out of her Creative Writing MFA to start a new life in the desert, where she’d planned to write a novel, drop some acid, and behave exactly like the kind of white girl who called things her “spirit animal.” Ithaca-whose-name-was-actually-Jane was blonde and pretty, and her family had made a lot of money in interior design (or was it hotels?), so that whenever she got stoned or got drunk and began ranting about how money was meaningless, what sounded like an affirmation of her anti-capitalist stance was really a reiteration of the fact that, for her, money was no object. She demurred when she was asked exactly how much of the meaningless cash from her meaningless inheritance it took to buy the little white house in New Mexico, its roof curved like a violin or the body of a woman, fuelling speculation that it had been a significant amount.

Sunshine Daydream House exterior among grass
Sunshine Daydream House on rocks

Instead, she’d counter by explaining that her desire to relocate had been fuelled by an article she’d read that Spring in the New Yorker about one or other of the female artists who had been romantically involved with Max Ernst, maybe Leonora Carrington or maybe Dorothea Tanning, and their recollections of a period spent living in their own small desert house, rough-and-ready but inspiring in a way that had to be experienced to be believed. It was generally agreed upon that Ithaca-whose-name-was-actually-Jane did not have an entirely firm grip on the details of this story, and that if she meant to upend her own life as a response to a single article from a magazine, she ought to at least find out which Surrealist artist she was emulating. Still, the fact remained that although they would miss the ease with which she always paid the tab, what with money being meaningless, nobody appeared too sad to see her go. Several of her frenemies placed bets on whether she would get around to finishing her novel.

Inside Sunshine Daydream House

Some unusual things began to happen around two months into Ithaca-whose-name-was-actually-Jane’s stay in the little white house with the undulating ceilings, starting with the purple blaze she saw outside her window in the middle of the night. At first, she had written it off as a distant camper lighting fires, maybe burning something strange; later, though, she realized that she couldn’t think of anything that made a fire turn the color of grape Kool-Aid, and as far as she knew, anyway, there were no other human beings within about ten miles of the house. The other thing was that the more time she spent looking at the purple glow, the more convinced she was that it was moving closer, slowly but inexorably, as if it had meant to reach her. As it came, she noticed a high-pitched, invasive ringing noise that seemed to become louder every night, at first inducing nightmares and then keeping her from sleeping. By the fourth month, she’d convinced herself that she was being haunted by the ghost of whichever Surrealist artist she had read about in the New Yorker, and that either Leonora Carrington or Dorothea Tanning was now furious with her for confusing the two women. Unfortunately, as she had boasted when she left, Ithaca-whose-name-was-actually-Jane had gone “off-grid,” making it impossible for to fire up Google and correct herself, and—she thought with horror—making it equally impossible for her to look up what one is meant to do when one is being pursued by an angry ghost.

Sunshine Daydream House among flowers

(Didn’t you have to know the person’s name to do an exorcism, or was that for séances?) In the months that followed, she saw further colors burning in the darkness, a bright emerald and a cerulean blue, and while at first the ringing sound and the approaching colors made her feel high-strung, a little manic, eventually she was overcome by a new feeling that was warm and soporific, even soothing. When she returned to New York, about eight months after she’d moved into the little white house in New Mexico, she had a complete manuscript, and what she’d written was far better than anything she had ever written before in her life—almost, she would say, as if it wasn't her who’d written it at all. Her frenemies, most of whom had lost their bets, simply found her claims of having been possessed by either Leonora Carrington or Dorothea Tanning—she still had not looked it up—unbelievably annoying, and thus perfectly in character for Ithaca-whose-name-was-actually-Jane.