I watched my dream as though I were watching a movie I enjoyed as a child. I knew roughly what was going to happen, but the details still surprised me.
There were three siblings: a tall older brother, a middle-child sister, and a little brother. And they were trapped on some rural acreage with their emotionally abusive father and trying to escape.
They got their chance when he brought them to a pond there. They knew that there was a trapdoor leading away from the area. All they had to do was get time to get to it.
That turned out to be unnecessary, though, as their father left them alone to run a quick errand, and the children jumped into a cab. The old 80’s car took off, driving them deep into the city.
I became the girl, and helped point out passage through traffic. The cab wove expertly through the cars and neatly dodged a man standing in the middle of the ten-lane highway dressed like Ray Stanz of Ghostbusters–complete with pack–and smoking a cigar.
Not long after our flight began, the cabbie realized he was out of gas. We pulled over, much to my chagrin. The older brother was asking why he hadn’t filled up before, and the cabbie said something about only liking gas from this chain of gas stations, and not having passed one until now.
I felt that the abusive father was in pursuit and was very eager for us to get back on the road.
Finally the cabbie swiped his card in the machine, and all of a sudden words and numbers scrolled across a giant marquee. Some of them were “ARREST WARRANT” and “DRUGS”.
“The police are coming!” I said. “You’re wanted!”
We hurried to get back into the car as I turned over this new information in my mind. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the police showed up, I thought. They could protect us from the abusive father.
We ended up stopped at a grand old hotel with a huge lobby. I had a flash of memory–the police would help us, all right, help us go back to our father. They wouldn’t listen. They’d think we were just naughty and didn’t want to be punished for it.
And then, somehow, I was the girl, except I was my age, and I was me. What happened to the girl and her brothers was in my memory, and I was back at the hotel, and I was somehow watching it. It wasn’t just that I was remembering it, because I had a friend there, and as we watched a scene where a police officer gave us a speech about how lucky we were and how much our mother had given up to go away and find a job, I turned to that friend and said, “This all made a whole lot more sense when I was a kid.”
Then I was just exploring the beautiful lobby. I was there with a huge group of friends and family. We’d meant to just stop briefly on our way to something else, but it was late and we’d started to think it would be better to just spend the night there. I found a keychain-sized swipe card that said “Place Your Order”, and I knew it was meant to be used as credit in the hotel. I looked at some eyeshadow samples and brushed one of them–light purple–onto my wrist. And I saw a beautiful box in a display case with words embossed in gold script: “Tycho Brahe”. I desperately wanted to take a picture, and it was then that I remembered that I didn’t have my purse, which meant that I didn’t have my camera.
I was headed away to complain to my mother that I couldn’t take pictures when one of my friends said, “Happy Birthday!” I stood by a massive column at the front entrance of the hotel, gazing down the steps at my family beaming up at me.
“Thank you,” I said.
“I ordered you a chicken salad,” someone said, gesturing to where hotel orderlies were placing a large bowl on a cafe table back inside.
“That can be my birthday cake!” I replied cheerfully, but by the look on her face I could tell that I could expect a real cake, so I quickly said, “Or not.”