Dalia closed her curtains and clambered back into her sheets. Her father had finished the bedtime stories too early she thought; she was used to slipping into her dreams with the sound of his voice carrying on, the lilt and masculine vibrations, his presence caulking over the way back to the loud and bright echoing hall of the waking hours, where so many unjust things had happened. First Andrew had thrown her glasses into the sand, and they had gotten scratches on them. Also, everyone at her cousins’ house had gotten juice except for her—Serge had gotten two instead, and when she had found out, there was none left. Some of the kids at her cousins’ house had made fun of her because she had gotten cordial instead of juice. All of her shows that she wanted to watch when she got home had been replaced by news—news, news, news.
On the television they showed the lights that had hovered over the city and flashed down their plastic-sword-looking rays—the long, bright pink rays, rays more like cyclone lasers, she thought, like big translucent musk sticks that left six thousand people with permanent hearing damage and radiation burns. Some people said they witnessed Jesus Christ—what that meant varied for the individual but the general understanding was that the event was somehow messianic.
“Well now,” Dalia said, imitating her grandfather, trying to find a comfortable position in her cold bed. “Well now.”
Sleep eventually overtook her, while tears wet her pillow and her cheeks as she thought once again about the juice boxes, the glasses in the sand, the cartoons gone—and gone possibly the following week too. In her dreams music like strange, electronic birdsong communicated messages to her, complicated things she felt she understood perfectly without even trying, as though her eight times table had just been shoved into her brain and she could recite it perfectly—except different; even more complex and interesting and frightening stuff became very clear to her.
When she opened her eyes she found that she was still inside her dream, and men with thin insect faces and red eyes surrounded her bed and stared down at her. When she was able to move again she thought that she would scream, because that’s what she had been trying to do the entire time, except instead she closed her eyes and went to sleep, lost in the honeycomb mystery of dream and real life, which sometimes, as tonight, today, seemed to fuse into each other and stump everyone, including her father. She would forget her dreams, the insect men and the pink light beams, and tomorrow ask Andrew if he would please apologise for the scratches in her glasses, which were from her Aunty Edith and were made especially for her.