Heat on her eyelids made her smile as she emerged from deep sleep. She always left the drapes open on nights before holiday mornings: she loved being awakened by sunlight and then remembering she didn’t have to get up. She would get out of bed, draw the curtains closed, glance at Roger, asleep on the far, shaded side of the bed, and close her eyes again with deep pleasure; everyone else simply had extra sleep: she consciously enjoyed hers. She lay between sleep and wake, glad they’d decided to stay home. One bottle of champagne between two people was perfect: a good buzz; a good time; a good night’s sleep. New Year’s morning brought a year of promise, faced with a clear head and embraced with high hopes. She slipped into deep sleep almost at once and picked up the dream she’d had before waking: of her father. Again. In the dream, she began to feel sad, though her sleeping face retained its smile. It was 11 years ago. She and Roger had been married for a year-and-a-half but the twins wouldn’t get their start until that Carnival. Her mother, perhaps sensing it would be her last Old Year’s Night, had wanted her children around her, down-the-islands. Her younger sister argued in her newly-qualified lawyer way for a sit-down dinner at the family home in St Clair. Her elder sister, back from freezing Canada, suggested a party at Maracas Beach. Their brother waited to see what their father wanted to do so he could pretend to arrive at the same thing independently. Their father had scuttled the debate by sending them Club dinner and dance tickets, paid for by him; he was one gift horse no one dared look in the mouth.
The dream moved seamlessly into plain memory. As midnight approached, her father, almost insensibly drunk, looked around the table, one eye wandering all over before settling on her elder sister’s Iranian fiancée. “You!” he said, spittle forming at the corner of his mouth. “Yes, you! Saddam Hussein’s brother! You know what we’s call you in Trinidad? A Syrian!” Between her father’s accent and his intoxication, her future brother-in-law, missed the comment. From her position at his left hand—her father always directed her younger sister to sit at his immediate right—she touched his arm softly. “Dad,” she whispered, “take it easy.” Her father pulled his arm away from her roughly. “You hush your a--!” he snapped, head lolling. “You with this piss-in-tail little boy can’t make a grandchild in two years!” His head rolled towards Roger. “Wh’appen, boy?” he chuckled. “You wants some Viagra borrow?” In the dream, as in the memory, her elder sister’s chair scraped back and she stood, eyes flashing. He paused, but only to reload. “Don’t mind he shooting blanks,” he said. “Roger is still a white boy from a decent Trini Catholic family,” he said, “and not a semi-Syrian, full-scrunting, c----e-colour’ sonnab---h who make you can’t even cook bacon in your own damn’ house.” The Iranian future brother-in-law frowned quizzically. Her father wobbled to attention and gave something approaching a one-armed Nazi salute. “’salaam-’likum,” he mumbled. “Your mother’ a--!”
In the dream, now, she stood up, angry (although, on the night it all happened, she had sat quiet as a mouse). “That’s it!” she shouted, pelting her napkin down on the table. “I’m fed up with you spoiling everything with your nasty comments! Roger! Let’s go!” In the dream, she turned on her heel and stamped off. “Go wherever the hell you want,” her father shouted. “As long as you married to that waste-of-time, poor-a-- white boy, you bound to come back!” He affected a high-pitched voice which, in his drunkenness, quickly descended to gravelly. “Daddy, we want to send the children to Oxford! Daddy, we never went to Disney World! Daddy, Daddy, the new 3-series BMWs going for a good price, Daddy!” In the dream, she turned and faced him. “You think I care about money?” she shouted. “What it bring you? You buy tickets for everybody but we have to pay you back double in suffering?” In the dream, she was leaning over him, raising her hand, about to slap him. And then memory reasserted itself as her mother burst into tears and fled from the table.
In the dream, in the memory, she chased her mother. Roger stood up at the table, then sat down again. In the dream, car tyres outside the Club somewhere screeched long, long, long and then there was a bang and she jumped up in bed. The curtains were resettling; the bathroom door had slammed shut. She took the bedside phone into the bathroom. Her father’s phone rang three times before his gruff recording came on. “Leave a message if you want,” he said, “but I prefer if you just hang up.” Tears crept into her eyes, remembering the contrast of that last sweet message her mother had recorded, the one she’d begged him never to erase. “Dad?” she said, hesitantly. Was he awake and ignoring her? She held her breath for a moment. “You must still be asleep,” she decided. “Well, I just wanted to say Happy New Year and Roger and I will bring the children up by you after lunch and not to worry, we’ll bring Chinese. Okay. Love you. God Bless.” She opened the bathroom door and slipped the phone back on its cradle and herself back into bed. She had the sense there was a dream she wanted to continue but couldn’t say what it was, only that she was happier asleep than awake. At her last moment of consciousness, love and concern for her father overrode all else. “I must,” she said, aloud, though no one would ever hear, not even her, “I really must do more for him.”
BC Pires is giving a second helping. Read Part I @ www.BCRaw.com or on Facebook