I had this dream last night. It comes occasionally, but never too lucidly. In the dream, my mother has many children. My brother is still the eldest and I'm right after him, but then there are little kids. Sometimes three or four. Sometimes my sisters are there, too. Sometimes they aren't.
Last night, I was younger--not old enough to leave the house yet, but my brother was his age now. My mother's husband, who was not my father, was in a rage. I remember egging him on. I kept coming back at him and jibing him, making him angrier and angrier. I wanted to push him.
Eventually, things escalated. Usually when it does in my dreams, I'm in cellar with its fieldstone walls and dirt floor, looking through a window into a sky of nothingness. Last night, when it escalated, all the children and I were in one of the upstairs bedrooms--the one I shared with all my siblings but one in real life. I had a cordless phone and a cell phone, so this was present times, because we only had a corded phone growing up and my parents would have killed us if we tried to use the one gigantic cordless phone. I tried multiple times to call the police, but it would only ring three times and then hang up. My mother's husband had somehow rigged our phones to not be able to call out. My cell phone couldn't even call 9-1-1. I tried calling my best friend from HS's parents house. Very often, she and her parents play a role in my dreams. In real life, she lives in Florida having moved there after college. In the dream, she was in Florida, but I knew her parents still lived up the street. I dialed the number a million times, but it wouldn't go through.
The kids and I resigned ourselves to whatever was coming--something involving gasoline. My mom was downstairs crying and screaming. Her husband was yelling. I took the plastic bag of clothing a neighbor gave us for our youngest sister (one year old)--not my real youngest sister--and started folding the clothes to keep my mind busy. They were in pristine condition. It was like the neighbor's daughter had never worn them. One of my sisters was younger. Maybe 13. She said, "He's our dad now. He's always provided for us." I pushed her down against the bed and pinned her there with my arm. "He has never provided for us," I screamed at her. "These clothes--they're hand-me-downs. Nothing we own is ours. Don't you ever say he provides for us." The one-year-old--she had dark hair and a round face--began to cry, as did the other children.
I grabbed my cell phone and dialed one more number. It had a 617 area code. I don't know who I was calling, but it wasn't my brother, but my brother picked up the phone. I whispered into it and asked him to please call the police. I almost thought he wasn't going to, but then I remembered what we shared when we were younger (because for a moment I was my real age again and things were real) and knew he would. I hung up without waiting for him to answer.
Moments later, he was in the room with me. He smiled at me and said he did it. He called the police this time. I felt closer to him in the dream than I do in real life--like I was 10 and he was 11 again, and we would be best friends forever.
I looked out the window that was mine as a child, before the cold downstairs bedroom was given to me. Seven police cruisers pulled up in front of the house. Some of them crept into the U driveway, some of them stayed on the street. None of them had lights on. A feeling of peace came over me. And I woke.
It was 2:30am. I didn't fall back asleep last night.
Except for the fact that the lights weren't on in the cruisers, and there aren't as many kids in my family, and my mother has only recently remarried (to the loveliest man on the planet), and my bedroom really was downstairs--IT was very much like how I remember it happening, and IT was much of what I forgot. The feelings, I mean.
And the cops. There were a lot of cops. In real life.
This is why the winter needs to end. Because sometimes real life feels like a dream. And sometimes a dream is only an echo of real life. And sometimes the winter isn't just the winter, and sometimes the winter is more than just cold. Sometimes it's cold.