I don’t dream. I mean, I do dream, everybody dreams, or else we’d go slowly mad. I meant to say that my dreams aren’t dreams, their memories. Events pulled from my subconscious and dressed in modern day clothes. Usually, they tended to be past situations that mirrored a current conflicts in my life, and I thought they were meant to provide a solution, in a George Santayana “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” sort of way. Alas and alack, this was not the case. I always made the same mistakes, no matter which fork in the road I took.
And the memory dreams never brought the comfort of nostalgia with them, as they were never good memories, or they might start off pleasant, but there was always something there to sour the experience. Had I really never experienced true happiness in my life? If I described how my memory dreams played out each night, people might have gotten the impression than I was born in a Dickensian novel. “The Tale of Two Pities,” or some such.
And I was certain there was a level of fiction that mixed with real life moments, the dream and waking world seemed to derive pleasure from swapping details like so many trading cards, which caused me to doubt the authenticity of my remembrance of things.
Worse were the insignificant moments that I had largely forgotten about, which were somehow amplified in my dreams, only to be transformed into real life triggers. Triggers noticeable enough that my best friend, Shelly, began asking, “What happened to you?” which I took as, “What the hell did you do to yourself that made you turn into such a freak?”
Normally, I took a moment to ponder a believable and sympathetic lie to tell, but my latest dream shook me to the core, and I had to tell somebody before my mind exploded.
“Shell, you’re not going to believe me,” I started.
“Only way to find out, Gingerbread, is to tell me and we’ll see where it goes from there,” Shelly offered a reassuring smile. Gingerbread was a nickname I picked up as a little girl because of my skin tone, freckles, and shock of red hair. I punched as many faces as it took in primary school to put an end to it, but it remained a term of endearment between Shell and me, and now that I was older, I had to admit, it kind of grew on me.
I brought Shell up to speed on my dreaming situation, and to my surprise, she was not only interested, but also concerned for me. She was a better friend than I realized and I should have done this years ago.
“Last night,” I said. “I dreamt I was 18 and on my gap year before starting uni. It was the summer, and I struggled into my clothes, splashed water on my face, and gulped down a scalding cup of tea. Flinging open the door to the garden, I felt a breeze wash over my face. It had rained overnight and the air was damp with expectation.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Shelly said.
“Then I looked down at my belly…and I was pregnant.”
“Not only that, but the pregnancy had driven me mad, alienated me from my husband…”
“Your husband? At 18?”
“Yeah, I know, right?” I said. “And my world tilted on its axis threatening to pitch me off. Then I gave birth. And this tiny person, who was partially made of me that would one day grow independent of me, somehow held the universe together.”
“Well, that’s a happy ending, I suppose,” Shelly said.
“But that’s not the weird bit,” I said, taking a deep breath before continuing. “I woke up with a baby laying in bed beside me.”
“Wait a minute now, you woke up with a baby?”
“Yeah, a newborn, by the looks of it.”
“Whose baby is it?”
“Mine, I suppose.”
“But you didn’t have a baby before you went to sleep?”
“No, I wasn’t even pregnant.”
I could see Shelly trying to work it out in her head. “But, but, um…so where’s the baby now?”
“At home. With my husband.”
To be continued…
Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys