Dec. 30, 2015
The beeping of the machine grew faint, and darkness closed around my eyes. I heard the long steady trill of the monitor, indicating my heart had given out, but it sounded so far away.
Music blared, and I sucked air into my lungs. I opened my eyes to more darkness and tried managed to knock over my phone, keys, and three empty beer cans while trying to shut off the alarm. Already the dream was fading - it had felt so vivid.
Untangling my limbs from the sheets, I rubbed my face, rough with stubble, and not a small amount of drool. I pulled off my boxers and stumbled into the shower. By the time the water was sluicing over my body the shreds of the dream had gone.
I felt like a new person.
No sales today. Greg was on my ass again about the quota and how the cars weren't going to sell themselves. He made me work overtime on a couple that I could have sworn was going to drive off with a minivan, but they'd walked. And my commission walked with them.
It wasn't even eight at night and I was beat. I went to the cabinet and poured a double of Gentleman Jack and downed it, wincing at the burn. But it warmed me up, especially on an empty stomach. I flicked the TV on, and was clicking through my list on Netflix. I don't even know when I closed my eyes.
"Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!! Happy birthday to you!"
People were singing roughly together and a small cake with an orange and white fish was laid out before me with four candles in it. I took a breath and blew out the candles, wishing for a Barbie Dream House while closing my eyes. A small cheer went up, and I saw I had hit all four candles and my heart beat a little faster.
There was a conga-line of gifts that I tore into with gusto. Disappointment oozed into my chest when I realized I was opening the last one and there was no way it could be the Dream House. But it was a Barbie, all done up in a lovely dress and fancy hair. I looked at mom and she smiled.
"I think you need to see if there's a place for her to sleep upstairs," she said as she sliced the cake for the guests.
I took the steps two at a time, Barbies tucked under my arm. As I crested the top, I could see it at the end of the hall - taller than I was - three floors of awesomeness.
"You can't ground me for this!" I screamed, knowing I was crying and knowing that there was nothing I could do about it. Rage filled my chest and Mom's face was stony. Next to her on the bed was a small box, it had been filled with rolling papers and a grinder, but I wasn't dumb enough to keep drugs in the house, but she didn't care.
"You think I'm stupid," she said, her voice was calm, but her eyes shone and I knew she was furious.
"What? No! But I don't have any drugs - you can't punish me -"
"That's where you're wrong," Mom said quietly. And I could feel my stomach sink. She was going for the jugular.
My phone, my car, all of my makeup, most of my clothes - gone. I listened as she listed it, and I knew no amount of rage or tears would bring them back. And there was something else that was gone. Something that Mom didn't even bother to bring up, but I could feel it - not even the rage could quiet it. The trust was gone.
I was sobbing on the edge of the toilet. Kevin wouldn't be home for another three hours, but I couldn't bring myself to call him. He had stopped being excited about my pregnancies after the first miscarriage. I wish I could have stopped feeling the hope and joy, but I couldn't. I couldn't.
I slid to the floor and curled up wrapping my arms around myself and began to wail.
Kevin was snoring in his chair, I held Clara in my arms, her head was nestled under my chin and I was just breathing in her scent. She had a mop of Kev's dark hair sticking straight up on her head and it felt like thistledown.
Her smell made the screaming, the curdled milk that crusted in the crevice behind the crib, and the rocket-launched poops worth it.
Clara made a small noise and snuggled into the curve of my neck and I sighed.
For a brief second I saw the headlights, the rest was crunching metal and spinning, spinning, spinning. More lights exploded and everything started to melt away.
I was vaguely aware of someone pulling the door open and telling me I needed to get out.
"Oh, God, oh God, you need to get out," said the shapeless form that I knew must be a person. Then there was a new sound, shrill screams. "Oh, Jesus, a baby –"
Reality flooded back to me, and I could smell gasoline and smoke and I saw the man, now in sharp focus, diving into the back seat, knife in hand and work at the straps. Something wet was trickling down the back of my neck. Smoke was stinging my eyes and it was getting so hot.
"Is she okay?" I whispered. The man wiggled out, his coat was smoldering and he was holding Clara who was crying her angry cry.
"She's fine," he said. He looked at me, his face was ashen and a ribbon of blood was flowing down the side of his face from a cut on his forehead. Orange light flickered over his face. I knew I should be concerned about the flames, but I was so tired.
"Good," I said and closed my eyes.
"Aaah!" I flailed about trying to put out flames that weren't there. My alarm was blasting music in my bedroom and my heart was hammering in my chest. I could still faintly smell... something. I rubbed my face, feeling the stubble and the confusion started to fade. I was achy from sleeping in the easy chair, my neck was killing me.
"Gotta get in the shower. What a weird dream," I muttered, staggering to my feet. The dream would be gone by the time I stepped into the hot water of the shower.
I felt like a new person.