My daughter is graduating from college. She is not very interested in it, but will go through the ceremony and process, for my sake and the sake of the family.
She and I and my son are going to do a graduation errand, turn in the money for the cap and gown or something like that. There are various errands.
We stop by a daycare. My friend B’s third child is there. A girl, a baby. I make her laugh. I take her with us on the errand.
I don’t tell anyone. I don’t even think of it. My daughter is disapproving, but my children are used to me charming strange babies in restaurants and often getting to hold them. They think that this is weird, but parents are always weird. We get to the van and I realize there is no car seat. That is beyond the pale. I also realize that I have taken this baby, no, kidnapped it, and no one knows where it is. I am horrified. My daughter drives back to the day care, my son in the other seat. “I am the car seat,” I say to the baby, knowing that I am not. It’s a VW van in the dream, with no seats in the back, a high bed to sleep on. I hold the baby and pray.
My kids drop me at the daycare. I go in, immediately bursting into tears of apology and guilt. The baby has been fine through all of this. B has already come and gone, deeply upset. The police have not been called yet, I think they suspected that it was me being an idiot. The woman who runs the daycare takes the baby. I am terrified that B and her family have driven to Eastern Washington and I want to offer to take the baby to them at this instant, but I know that no one will trust me with this baby. Ever again.
And I don’t deserve to be trusted.
A man is there. He says that B is working at a restaurant. I want to go to her, to apologize, but I am crying just thinking about it. I would be disruptive. He will go tell her. He leaves.
I wait, guilty. The baby is changed and tucked into a bassinet, safe.
B comes. She looks grey and worn. I am crying. She sees me and goes down on her knees, covering her face, bent forward. I am crying, “I am sorry, I am so sorry, please forgive me!” I am hugging her, “Please will you still be my friend.” She says nothing.
I wake up.
My daughter has two years to graduation. B does not have a third child. Our van is a Ford, with seven seats. My children are the right ages in the dream, young adults. I have not been in a daycare for years. I don’t know either the woman running the daycare or the man. In the dream they are acquaintances, archetypes, people I know but not specific people from my daytime world.