In my dream I roam the streets and browse through shops in search of Christmas presents. I want to buy things for my family and close friends that are unusual and inexpensive. In a store that sells only crockery, hand made on the premises, I can see a yellow cup through the glass. It lies underneath a pile of other pieces of crockery in such a way that its price is clearly visible. Replicas, at the top of the pile, sell for twice as much.
‘Can I have the one at the bottom, the one for twenty dollars,’ I ask.
‘No,’ says the woman behind the pile of porcelain at the
counter. ‘No, you can’t. It’s impossible to reach. You’ll have to
settle for one from the top.’
I buy another yellow one despite my misgivings and somehow in my flurry
I pay for it with money given to me by another person who has asked me
to safeguard it.
I tell myself it's okay. I’ll just replace his money with mine, but his
money comes in the form of travellers cheques or some other sort of
cheque that you need to cash in, each amounting to twenty dollars. If I
replace one cheque with a twenty dollar note it will be obvious that
I’ve used it.
It’s too late and I regret having used his money and not my own.
In another scene I help my husband build up a clock face as a present
for two other friends. My husband plans to design it is such a way that
it has a haphazard symmetry. I follow his lead and make sure that
although at first glance it looks as though all the embellishments on
the left are matched by those on the right, they are not the same.
There are tiny changes rather like those quiz cartoons where two
identical images are placed side by side and the aim is to spot the
differences. The differences exist if you look, though they’re not
I arrive home with a bunch of children, my own and others. I am busy
with cleaning, cooking and washing, when I realise not only have I left
the cup behind, but I’ve forgotten the baby. Not my baby, my sister’s
baby, who’s been left in my care.
I roam the house in search of her. I ask my husband if he knows her
whereabouts and in the process of my search I am distracted by other
people’s demands and I forget to go on a search outside.
There’s a ring on the doorbell and a couple arrive. The woman holds the
baby who is freezing. I can feel her skin, the ice cold of someone
left too long outside in winter. The baby looks at me knowingly but not
as pleased as she might once have been. Then I notice there’s a man
lying at the feet of the people who are returning the baby. He reeks of
‘We found him with the baby sitting alongside the gutter. We thought you might know them.’
‘The baby, yes,’ I say, ‘but not the man.’
The two help him up and carry the man away while I take the baby inside.
I worry now that he may have abused her. She looks untouched when I
change her nappy, but her nose has a graze underneath the nostril and a
thin line of blood. I toy with taking her to see a doctor but I do not
want her to be further abused.
I wake up.