Her room appears out of the galaxy of night. Bright and sober. Her day-self has not yet hatched, her mum-self, her woman-self; the self who will testify. She is jelly. Her son is a sleeping planet beside her. The sun peeking through the blinds and spilling over him reminds her that morning is foetal and may need some care to unfurl into afternoon. This space, before the world wakes, is an atom holding its breath. She knows how monstrous it’ll become. How quickly the day is knocked into shape by events, actions, words. Hurtling towards a verdict.
She doesn’t know how long she can worry the loose threads of her last dream—something about a dog stealing her vital organs, running them into the sea before returning them, grey and sodden into her lap. She remembers the dog’s face was also his face, and that the dog would never tire of playing fetch.
Her son stirs and begins to rise. She rubs his curved back while he picks his nose. His baby fat has melted off and the grooves under her fingers remind her of the dinosaur bones in their favourite museum. Today, the faces he sees will become fossils buried deep in his malleable little brain. He might forget the smell of the courtroom, or how his legs ached against the cold wood of the benches, but he won’t forget his father.
He yawns, stretches. She wonders in which fashion he’ll start the engine of the day.
When he finally speaks, it’s not the demand for breakfast which breaks the silence, nor questions of what they’ll do later, thank god, but the retelling of a dream. No dogs, just friendly aliens offering homemade Oreo cake. His mind rolls out goodness effortlessly, and she wishes she could be the cloak that protects it from life’s sting. He is laughing.
She imagines him standing later, recounting this breathy, not-quite-awake dream to an impartial jury. She hopes he’ll find her face in the crowd, encouraging his delight for stories.
The smell of sleep still clings to the blankets. She can hear the creak of the other women waking, coaxing children into school uniforms; the kitchen radio. She wraps the blanket tight around them, trying to still the forward momentum of it all. He turns and whispers, ‘Nice to see you Mummy.’
She wants to say: stay with me a little longer. She wants to say: the devil’s best trick is convincing everyone he’s good. She wants to say: whatever happens, you were loved.
Instead, huddling close, she says, ‘Nice to see you too Sweetie.’
And she hopes to god he’ll remember this.