Martha’s dream filled with childhood memories shakes her up, disturbing her equilibrium. Excerpted from Interior Designs.
My dreams took me along a quiet country road. My parents were in the front seat of their old Pontiac, driving and chatting. They always seemed to be talking about something that only they could understand. Greg and Jon sat on either side of me in the back seat, pushing and shoving, with me sandwiched in the middle. But I knew better than to complain. Nobody dared interrupt my parents when they were deep in conversation.
But then one of Jon’s jabs hit me hard in the stomach and I cried out.
I noticed my mother’s frown, even before she quickly turned into the parent who smiled and took care of me. But the momentary annoyance I saw there reminded me of how I should behave. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” I quickly spoke. “It was an accident.”
She stared at each of the boys, giving them that look that she reserved just for them, and then smiled at me again. “Okay, then, sweetie. We’ll be home soon. Then you can work off some of that energy.”
I could hardly wait, and soon, sure enough, we were pulling into the driveway.
Running into the house and up the stairs to my room, I settled into my window seat and curled up with a tablet of blank pages for drawing. I tried to turn my thoughts and frustrations into pictures I could later give to my mother. Then she would remember that I was the good girl and not the one who complained.
“Martha!” The voice intruded on my dream life, and I lifted my head, feeling foggy and disoriented. Where had I gone? Caroline was staring at me with that look of concern that everyone seemed to wear these days.
“Oh, I guess I must have needed my power nap,” I laughed, trying to pretend that everyone took a nap halfway through the afternoon. “What’s going on? More client calls?”
“No, I was just going to ask if you needed anything else before I leave.” She seemed apologetic, so of course I quickly reassured her.
Well, I thought, after she’d gone, it must be almost time for Meadow to arrive home.
I hastened into the adjacent bathroom, checking the mirror for any telltale signs. My hair was tousled and a deep pink crease divided the left side of my face. Great, I thought gloomily. But I splashed cold water on my face, tried to smooth out the marks, and ran the brush through my hair. After applying a touch of makeup, I straightened my slightly rumpled outfit.
As I scurried out of the office wing and toward the front of the house, I tried to remember what I was fixing for dinner, but then recalled that we were dining with my parents. Relieved, I opened the fridge and grabbed a water bottle. I sat at the kitchen table, sipping it as if I were parched. Feeling somewhat better, I glanced at the kitchen clock, noticing the time, and headed toward the front porch. I grabbed a book from the coffee table in the living room just before I opened the door.
Settled in the wicker chair, a water bottle on the table and a book in hand, I waited.