In my dreams this morning, fitful rolling dreams, one after the other, my house was in chaos, mess everywhere, the mess of years. I woke from my dream, still dreaming and heard my sister and aunt arrive after a long trip. They were in my kitchen. I wanted to join them but it was hard to open my eyes. They were stuck fast with sleep.
I had tried to tidy my consulting room in my dreams. My children who were still young had been playing there. The accumulation of years of toys and dolls and dress-ups spread across the room, behind cupboards and on chairs.
No sooner did I manage to clear one pile than I found another. There was so much to sort, so much to pack away, so much to dispose of. The piles were endless. On my way down to the kitchen I noticed other rooms in the house in similar disarray, including the hallway itself and the kitchen. It was as if all the toys and objects from my children’s childhood through a span of twenty years were still accumulating in my house and there was no more storage space.
I spoke to my aunt and sister, tidying around them as I offered cups of tea. They had brought with them my uncle’s dog, a yappy dachshund with paralysed back legs that he dragged along behind him on two makeshift wheels. The dog pulled at the edge of my skirt, harmless but irritating. Besides I worried for my youngest daughter who in my dream was still only a toddler.
At one point I opened a door off the corridor and discovered a room I had forgotten over the years. It had only half a floor laid down and I concluded this was the reason that we had kept the door closed, but then realised the non-floored section was in fact a water feature and deliberate, a pool in which fish swam and on whose surface, strangely, despite the absence of natural light, water lilies grew.
The walls were surrounded by fat books, books from my husband’s past, and my father before him, books we might never read now, the type of books you might see lining a Victorian library from floor to ceiling, grey with dust.
In the centre of one bookshelf there was a glass cabinet in which on the centre shelf my husband had laid out his toy soldiers, miniatures, meticulously painted, with rifles, swords and bayonets and fixed in the postures of war.
Strange I thought that I should have forgotten this. It was like the discovery of a secret cave.
I rejoiced in the room's presence but knew immediately it would be a danger to my daughter who toddled in as I stood admiring the books. She hovered at the edge of the pool and I scooped her up into my arms knowing I would need to close the door onto this room again until she was old enough to resist the temptation to drown.