Brighid lay in bed watching a fly crawl in and out of shadow on the ceiling. What did that dream mean? She got up, pulled her robe off the bed and wrapped herself in it. It was a little cool this morning, again, though three months ago she wouldn’t have thought so. She must have become acclimated. She picked up her notebook and then sat to write down the dream.
It started with that rainy day on the pier. She saw the old woman with the huge black-and-white checked bag again, only this time the old woman was shrinking as she sang, “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” Soon the old woman was a little girl who kept getting smaller and then suddenly stopped shrinking. The child put the black-and-white checked shopping bag in front of her and climbed in. She simply disappeared inside the bag. Brighid went over to the bag and looked in. It was a big, bottomless pit. For a moment she felt like she would fall into it like Alice down the rabbit hole. Then she woke up.
The rising sun glowed golden behind the curtains now. Brighid put down her journal, got up and stretched. She went over to the window and pulled the curtains aside. It was a beautiful day. She’d make sure she got outside for lunch today.
She walked into the kitchen and flipped on the light. For a moment the black-and-white checkered floor made her feel nauseous. It started to reach up around her, as if it was becoming a huge checkered bag like the one in her dream. She jumped back into the hallway, shook her head, and closed her eyes. Then she opened them again and looked at the floor. It was just a floor. She tentatively stepped back in. Still just a floor. She felt silly, like she was a kid again. Her overactive imagination caused her great stress as a child. For weeks after seeing Alice in Wonderland she imagined all sorts of fearful things.
The last couple of days had been like living in Wonderland. First that homeless woman on the pier singing that children’s rhyme about rowing your boat and life being like a dream, then the little girl who ran up to her and handed her a four leaf clover, and now this dream. Maybe she was working too hard. Why had she had added another project to the list? She knew why. Seeing the old woman at the beach had given her an idea to write about homeless women. She wanted to know how they ended up on the street and how they were different from homeless men. It would be the article that would finally get the editor’s attention. This kind of article was what Randy had always encouraged her to write. Her eyes started to water at the thought of him. She took a deep breath. Not now. There was no time to go down that road today.
This was the day she was going to visit the local women’s shelter, Sophia House. She remembered her mother once talking about having been in a shelter of some kind in her early years in Ireland. The look in her mother’s eyes when speaking about it, which was almost never, disturbed Brighid. She wondered what these places were really like. What could they do to help women in dire circumstances? Brighid wished she knew why her mother ended up in one, but her mother refused to give any details about it.
As she went to turn on the coffee maker, the clock was blinking. The power must have gone off again. When she first got here it would go off at peak times, but lately it was going off overnight. This place was turning into a third world country. That was another story she wanted to write. First, she needed to have her say about homeless women.