Last night, I dreamt that I had a child named Oscar.
The next morning I flicked through “Unlocking Your Subconscious” from the discount store to tell me why. Its analysis was wrong, but I had expected that. I retraced the thoughts I’d had before I fell asleep that night, step-by-step as far as I could go until my thoughts had become too dreamlike to be of any use. I found the thought that started the dream eventually; after I was too tired to read any longer and went to lay down. My nightshirt had ridden up and I saw my hips. The hips were too chubby and adult, not those of the slim, pale semi-starved teenager that I had been, but those of an expecting mother: wide and blemished . I felt fat and lonely, so I dreamed that I was pregnant.
I had blue eyes in my dream. My eyes change colour and it is an ongoing experiment of mine to find out why. I finally concluded once and for all last Tuesday that it is not the light. My eyes were oddly autumnal that day, and I ran between bathrooms in my parents’ vast house, squinting into all the mirrors. No, the lighting does not change the tint of the colour, only the shade. My ongoing premise, yet to be proved, is that it is a chemical imbalance that changes the colour – dependent on my mood, or my diet, or a physiological change out of my control. I could Google it, but like the book definition of pregnancy dreams, the generalised and simplified explanation would probably not fit quite right. And experiments are fun. Until I do work out the logic of colour change, every time I feel a strong emotion it is a habit of mine to find to a mirror as fast as I can and stare back at my eyes until I can pick out the individual pigments of my irises for analysis.
And in my dream, I did just that. In that moment when Oscar (the child is always Oscar) was coming into my fantasy-world, I was standing in my parents’ blindingly white bathroom and blood was streaming down my prickly unshaven legs and I was not screaming; I was looking in the mirror. My eyes were blue. Ghostly blue; the palest blue you could ever possibly imagine, and all I thought was, “Blue must be the colour of pain.”
The baby was expected by everyone but me; there were people in the house but not near me, asking about cots and food and clothing. I had none of that. I held Oscar in my arms and I could feel his fragility; I forgot to hold his head and I thought his little neck would snap in half like a twig under my clumsy feet on the forest floor, the smallest crack that could cause the annihilative flap of a butterfly’s wing… But, no, Oscar was fine. He blinked up at me, silent and wondering.
Did I still have blue eyes? He had them, staring back at me.
Funnily, I gave no thought to the father. There wasn’t one, I don’t think. A celibate birth (“virgin” would be a tad inaccurate) and I didn’t think it was at all odd; these things happen in dreams. Perhaps reason matters too much in life that it prevents such oddities, and all the unexpected and strange things we think of are forced into the subconscious. It would have been nice to have a husband though; a partner, a friend –
I stood in my childhood bedroom in my parents’ house, alone, Oscar still strangely compliant in my arms. I knew I had to find him clothes, and almost like a sub-plot, I saw myself on a stage like an audition saying nervously, “Hi I’m Casey, I’m pregnant and I’m going to call my son Oscar,” and whether given or bought I do not know, but I found clothes for him on top of a wardrobe. I dressed my child in a white t-shirt as tiny as he was with his name in black capital letters printed across it.
I lay Oscar on the bed where I grew up. His eyes had turned dark and his name stared up at me: O-S-C-A-R. The name was black and bold like a tattoo. I had been a parent for ten minutes and already I had restricted him from being anything else other than his name. I cried, and I tore his clothes off, but Oscar was no longer there.
I wandered my empty childhood house with empty hands, an echo of something forgotten but missed, and wondered what colour my eyes were.