I dreamt I fucked your husband. Except we didn’t, not technically, there was no penetration, and he came early while we were still rolling around. Told me he had a problem, but not like he was embarrassed, like it was a joke.
“Mama, I was scared of the bouncy house on my birthday.”
I’m yanked into the car, the objective now, where I’m driving my son to his grandparents’ house. The roads are clear this January 2nd holiday, no rain in spite of the forecast.
“Why were you scared of it?”
“It was too big. Why you get me such a big one?”
Something in me rankles. “There was a slide, the little ones don’t have slides.”
“And there were too many kids in it.”
“Well, those were your friends we invited to your party.”
We rumble over a freshly bloomed pothole. It poured on Saturday, flooding the Bay Area.
“Mommy, what happens if I push all the kids out of the bouncy house?”
I know better than to ignore these hypotheticals, or to turn it around. “What do you think?” is a great question, but doesn’t stand up to this four year old. He wants me to write all his stories.
“They’d say, ‘ahhh, why’d you push us, Lev?’”
I’m back in the dream, the setting was strange, like a cave or basement, a place for murder, or an affair. Your husband was wild, he was trying to kill me, to crush me with his body.
It makes sense that it would be him. Your husband always scared me a little. Tall and Nordic, always a scowl, always ready to correct.
In the dream, I caught a chance and ran from him, shut the door to another room and locked it. But my subconscious safeguards betrayed me, and your husband opened the door as easily as I fell asleep last night. He wore a gruesome smile, power-satiated, but that’s when I turned the dream around, and brought desire into it. That’s always been my backup plan in case of murder.
“Mommy, what happens if I make strong wind and I blow down the bouncy house?”
I struggle to stay subterranean, because I’m on the precipice of uncovering the connotations of my night vision. I still can’t believe it but I saw his penis in my dream, which I never do, not the actual organ. It was so light pink. A blushing debutante.
“Mom! Tell me.”
Your speed: 80. The number blinks at me with disappointment. I’d been mining the gas for information. I lift my foot off the pedal and downgrade my lane.
“They’ll say ‘oh no, we’re falling, help us!’”
When we reach Redwood Shores there will be a reprieve in this line of questioning. We’ll climb the overpass hill and gaze onto Larry Ellison’s domain, the glass alien structures of Oracle, and most importantly, the nothingness in the middle of the pond. These last several months, on every trip to the grandparents, the fountain in the center of the empire has lain dormant, setting off an interrogation about why the fountain isn’t on anymore. Today, I find myself looking forward to those familiar queries.
“And what I say?”
“I don’t know Lev, why’d you blow them down in the first place?”
I brace myself for a protest, but he answers. “Because they were in my bouncy house and I don’t want them there.”
I take a corner a little too fast. “Better to be grateful for what you have, Lev,” reminding myself too.
With more effort this time, I drag myself back, and it’s hard to remember what happened after the penis. Gnarled around each other. Some sort of effort exerted with no satisfaction. Though earlier my psyche forsook me, now it played protector. And that’s me top to toe, pushing myself to the edge of danger, but never close enough to cut.
“Mommy, what happens if I pop the bouncy house with a sharp thing?”
This imagined infidelity has been clawing at me all day, the most vivid vision I’ve had in months. I need the meaning more than I need anything.
“The whole house would collapse in on itself, bam, like that.” I take both hands off the steering wheel a moment to demonstrate the flatness.
“What if I throw the kids out the bouncy house onto a palm tree?”
I want to go back.
“I don’t know, Lev.”
“No. Tell me. What they say?”
My tone finally sours. “I’m not very happy that you didn’t want to share the bouncy house.” Even as I’m saying the words I realize how ridiculous it is to fight with a freshly minted four year old, especially in hypothetical-land, but I also don’t want him to be the kind of misanthrope to appear in people’s dreams and try to kill them.
“I never had a bouncy house growing up, and you’re mad yours was too big? That you had to share it with friends? Maybe next year we won’t invite any friends, I’d be more than happy to make that happen.”
He’s quiet as we flee the freeway into Redwood Shores but I don’t fall back into my dream, too agitated by the lonely schism of self, neither the writer nor mother I want to be. I can’t shape a whole from these two halves.
Then, on the overpass he yells, “The fountain!”
And I see it too. Today, in the new year, on a federal holiday, there is a spring shrieking from the middle of the water, thirty, forty feet into the air.
I point, as if I was the one who spotted it first. “Look how huge it is! It’s up to the sky!”
Still driving, I briefly turn my whole body to look at him, and we catch our smiles together, growing them big, bigger.
The sky cracks, and a ray of light plunges to the earth. It’s January. I feel my luck rising.