They were all sleeping. Even the dog, that eager tongue, was asleep at the foot of somebody’s bed or, possibly, under the covers in Claire’s bed. Claire hid things—muddy socks, anything torn, paper, a shirt, the pillow case. How do you tear a pillow case? Claire had no idea.
Perhaps even now she was thinking of other things she could shred: the curtains that flapped across your face when you opened the bathroom door, the tissue paper from the twin’s birthday party, the labels from every can in the pantry. How will we know what’s in the cans? Claire didn’t know.
She also didn’t dream. Whenever somebody said I had the strangest dream last night, Claire said, I don’t dream. Which stopped the story before it started.
Marion was glad of that. She found other people’s dreams boring—no narrative thread which was probably why Claire said she didn’t dream.
She does dream, Marion thought. She’s dreaming right now, but it’s in pieces, strips, nothing sticks together for that child.
She turned out the nightlight then, and stood in the dark room with her eyes closed, listening for her children’s breaths. Amy’s and Ramona’s came first, even, peaceful, twinned. The two easy girls.
Claire’s breath was harder to pick out in the stillness, but as Marion quieted her own yearning, Claire's ragged exhale came to her, smoothed over by the dog’s even twitch and snort, tucked in the bottom of Claire’s bed, dreaming for her.
© 2012 Kathleen Coskran
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