The Dream Child:


A teenaged girl lies asleep in a dark bedroom. Her hair is splayed above her head on a pillow. The girl's right arm is tucked underneath it as she rests upon her side. Abruptly, her peacefulness is shattered by a dream. In it, she is walking down the center of a church. There are pews to right and left that are distinguishable, but blurry beyond a point. She proceeds to move forward, slowly, and up ahead she discerns a half-open casket seemingly awaiting her arrival. Wracked with pending terror, she reaches it and cautiously peers inside. The body contained therein grabs her by a wrist and demands to know, "Why weren't you there?" The girl instantly recognizes this man to be her grandfather. Before she can process the scene any further, she jerks awake. Sunlight escaping through the shutters illuminates her brow, which is moist with a cold sweat. A look of complete consternation is seated upon her face. She attempts to assure herself aloud. "My grandfather is alive." Not thoroughly convinced, the pajama-clad girl throws aside the bedclothes and dashes off in search of her mother. She finds her dressed in an all-black suit and halfway out the door.

"Mom, grand-père is dead!"

"What...? How do you know? You must have overheard..."

The girl is adamant. "No! I dreamed I was at his funeral and..."

The mother cuts her daughter's sentence short. "I was on the phone last night, after you went to bed. My sister called to tell me that he had passed away. You overheard the conversation."

The girl pleads with her mother to listen to what she has to say, but to no avail. "But..."

"Look, I have to get going or I'll miss my flight. We'll talk later."

"So, he did die?"

"Yes, as I've already said. I love you and I will see you in a few days. Be good." She gives her daughter a kiss on the lips and swiftly departs the scene. The girl lingers, leaning against the closed door.

A week has passed. Peering through her bedroom door, which is open just a sliver, the girl spies her mother who is situated at the kitchen table alone. In the dim light of the room she sees smoke from a lit cigarette rising above her mother. Her head droops low over a densely packed ashtray. Her long, loose hair shelters the sides of her face as she weeps. Her hands clench the table. The girl silently debates whether or not it is an opportune time to approach her mother. Deciding that she needs some comforting, the girl ventures forth.

The girl bends to embrace the limp woman. "I'm so sorry, mum."

A painful moan is released from her mother. Now crying tumultuously, she burrows her head deeply into her daughter's bent figure. The girl begins to cry as well. "I dreamed he was dead. I swear. I would never lie to you."

"I don't want to..." Her mother is so consumed with pain at this point words are an impossibility. Words failing her, she defensively shoves her daughter away. As her daughter nervously takes a few steps back the mother lays her head on the table and sobs loudly. Suddenly and with abandon, the girl flees to her room, flopping on the bed facedown. She mashes her face deep into the recesses of the pillow, but it is not enough to drown the sound of her own sobs, let alone that of her mother's.