The Terrible Fear

Dot writes: on Friday night Ken was away and it was just Prawn and me. I don’t know if it was Ken’s absence that did it, but Prawn’s normal routine completely collapsed. He normally goes to bed with us at about ten and has two night feeds around three and five. On Friday he fell asleep unusually early, about eight, but woke at midnight and hourly thereafter. I brought him into bed with me and my anxious, interrupted dreams were all about him.

In my dream, I had taken a room at the top of a grand house. It had a double bed in but I was caring for Hugh on my own. I had to leave the room to go to the bathroom, and when I returned Hugh had gone.

Searching the house, I returned a third time to the room I had rented, and now it was laid out for a feast. In the vast kitchen of the house the marble table tops were littered with baby parts like pieces of dolls. They held up a live baby and said to me, ‘here is your baby’, but it was the wrong baby.

I was walking along an urban road and David Parr came by on a motorbike with two Maori. (I’m always intrigued by the incidental details of dreams. It’s quite clear what this dream is about, but why the motorbike and why the Maori? And why David? – though he makes more sense, as he looked after us on a two-day hike round Tongariro and I think of him as a person who knows what to do.) They pulled me up onto the bike and we went to find the place where all the babies were being stored. It was a shabby shop front with a metal blind half down and a small opening at the side; behind, however, there was a great freezer the size of a warehouse filled with racks and racks of babies. In my dream, David could fly. He flew into the freezer and found that Hugh was there and had not yet been eaten. However, he wasn’t able to bring Hugh out. I sat on the pavement beside the metal blind and poured the useless milk from my breasts into a pot, and as I did I made a long uncontrollable moan, the same moan I had made giving birth to him. It strikes me that inside the amazing love one feels for a child is a terrible tight coil of sorrow.

The next bit got rather confused, though I know there was a happy ending of sorts. There was some sort of plot or plan to rescue the babies – I think it was babies by now and not only Hugh – and this involved me swapping clothes (though only from the waist up) with a Polish girl working on a sweets stall. In the last part I remember, Hugh was out of the freezer, though still frozen, and had been formally identified by means of a black tape measuring the circumference round his head at the level of his nose. It was understood that when defrosted he would be fine.

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2 thoughts on “The Terrible Fear

  1. Dot

    I tried to tell this dream very straight and not strive pompously for literary effect or offer much in the way of analysis, but in fact I found it both incredibly upsetting and very moving. It was a dream about how deeply I love my baby and the fear that goes with loving someone so helpless and dependent. I was also processing the extremely sad news that some friends of mine had had a premature baby who lived for only ten minutes. Their sorrow must be dreadful. In this dream I entered as far into that sorrow as I could. My thoughts are very much with them.

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