In the dream, it is mid-winter cold. I don’t know where we are, but there is snow everywhere.
People are lined up in front of a long structure, as if at an amusement park awaiting their turn on a ride. The structure appears to be a conveyor belt of sorts – tilted slightly downward – upon which we are apparently meant to slide. When my turn comes, I dutifully hop up, and wait to see what will happen.
I’ve come here at the insistence of a friend from college. One whom, in my waking life, I haven’t seen in nearly five years. I still have the wedding gift I bought for her and never managed to give to her. It’s a beautiful teapot, painstakingly chosen to suit her unique sense of style. To this day, it sits in its box, waiting until we can get together again. She has a daughter of her own now. The wedding was a lifetime ago.
The attendant gives me a shove and I find myself careening down the snow-covered conveyor belt. At its end, the belt drops off and deposits me in a vat of icy, dirty water. I am soaked. And angry. I feel duped.
My jeans are drenched and sticking uncomfortably to my legs. It’s freezing outside. I’m miserable. Why on earth would anyone do this on purpose, I wonder.
I hear my friend coming down the belt. I turn to watch her. She’s propelling herself with her arms, pushing – faster, faster, faster. She’s barreling down the ramp. I want to scream to her, to warn her. It’s too late. Before I can speak, she’s soaked too.
I notice a hot tub a short distance away and consider getting in. I walk closer and find a clump of children in the tub. I see my girl, my Brooke, in the tub. She is naked. There is a little boy on top of her. His arms are around her shoulders, wrapping her in a tight hug.
She doesn’t protest. She loves hugs.
He kisses her on the lips, then gets up and moves out of the way.
I watch in slow motion – as this nightmare within a nightmare becomes clearer. There is a line of boys waiting for their turn.
Brooke has no idea what’s happening.
On Friday afternoon, my girl thought she had made two new friends on the school playground. She didn’t understand that they had been alternately teasing her and running away from her.
“You two are my best friends,” she had said, the moment before they finally turned their backs on her, whispered to one another, then turned back again only to roll their eyes at her before running away, leaving her standing alone.
As Luau tried to take her home, she said, “But we can’t leave my two best friends.”
I am woken by a jagged sob. It’s mine. My pillow is soaked with tears.
I am terrified.