The dream wasn't in color. She was aware of that even as she slept. She looked down, holding out her hands and arms, and saw the absense of color in her limbs.
Muffled speech and heavy feet moved around her. She was trying to find her parents in the crowded fair. Every time she thought she'd spotted her father's mud-drizzled boots or her mother's sneakers she would grab at their legs, only to be faced with an angry adult who wasn't Mom or Dad.
Panic spread quickly - seven was too young to be wandering around alone, her Mom always said - and she started to cry. She wasn't the type of child to let noisy sobs escape. She knew that this bothered the adults. Her sobs were like whispers; you had to get close to hear them, and even then you doubted what you were hearing.
She jumped at her mother's voice and the dream slipped away from her grasp. It felt like it had been a long, difficult dream, and missing out on the resolution seemed unfair.
"What is it, Mom?"
Her mother was sitting beside her. Her hair was loose and it tickled Lisa's arm. She moved towards the wall, away from her mother.
"You were murmuring. I was walking past your room and thought there was something wrong."
Briefly, just long enough for a thought to be invented and banished, Lisa clenched her fists. Usually there is something wrong, but you keep on walking past.
"I'm fine. Just having a dream. I've already forgotten what it was about."
The woman pondered for a moment. "You were asking for something. I'm not sure what it was. But you seemed so desperate. You kept saying 'please'."
"I guess I have good manners even while I'm sleeping," Lisa joked, but inside something stirred. The thought of her mother having open access to her dreams, even in fragments, scared her. She liked to store away whatever she remembered of her dreams, to keep them locked in her mind like a score hidden by a paranoid composer. She would rather lose pieces or entire episodes of her dreams than have them restored by an observer.
Her mother nodded. She stared at her only child, her sharp eyes tracing the curves and lines of Lisa's face. Something was amiss - anyone could see that - but she knew not to ask. "Well, goodnight then, honey," she said gently, "I hope you got what you wanted in the dream."
<darkangelicgrrl> what are you so nervous about, anyway?
<Gerbnesor> She's my Mom. Erratic. Illogical. I don't know how she's going to take it.
<tru> How did she take the news that you two were trying?
<Gerbnesor> Let's just say she wasn't begging me to set up a Baby Wish List. She didn't freak, but I think it unnerved her.
<tru> I think you should do it now. Call her up with the big news. We'll be here in case things go wrong.
<Gerbnesor> Wrong? Uh oh. Now you're freaking me out. I don't want to screw things up between us.
<darkangelicgrrl> lol, good one, tru...
<tru> Relax. I meant that if she doesn't take it well, we'll talk you through Dealing With Mom Issues 101. We're experts.
<angielips> any gay person is
<Gerbnesor> Okay. Fine. I'll call her now.
Willow groans, wondering how she got herself into this. She wishes that the women were there with her so they could hold hands, massage each other, eat choc-chip cookies and engage in other comforting female behaviors.
With a sigh she takes the portable phone off the charger and dials her mother. She peers at the computer screen as she waits for her mother to answer.
<tru> Good luck! You'll be fine.
"Hello, you've reached the answering machine of Sheila and Ira Rosenberg. We are currently out of the house. If you need us urgently, please call my cellular telephone... or call the golf club if you need to speak to Ira. Otherwise, leave a message after the tone." There was a loud beep.
"Nice message, Mom. I want to tell you something and I'm not sure how to say it. I mean, I could be poetic and overly emotional, but I figure you're already tapping your foot impatiently. So here it is. We're pregnant! Tara and I. Well, technically, I'm pregnant. We found out a while ago but I wanted to be sure before telling people. Uh, yeah, just wanted to let you know." Willow wonders how to continue the message; she figures she's covered everyting. "So, um, if you have any questions, just call me. I'll be at home. Bye, Mom."
<Gerbnesor> I did it!
<tru> That was quick. Well done, you're a pro.
<angielips> dude, maybe we should get lessons from you. how did you get her to stop talking so quickly? mine never stops...
<Gerbnesor> Oh, I didn't actually speak to her. I left a message on her answering machine.
<tru> Gerb: are you joking?
<Gerbnesor> No! Should I be?
<tru> It's just, how do I say this, not very typical answering machine material.
<Gerbnesor> Let me get this straight. A phone call is an appropriate medium for sharing such news, but not its recorded counterpart?
<tru> Yes, lol. Exactly.
<Gerbnesor> I can't exactly go over there and delete it.
<angielips> haha, I would.
<tru> Don't worry. Maybe you have a different type of relationship with your Mom than the rest of us do with ours.
Several hours later, when Willow logs out of #QueerMoms and is enjoying a bowl of icecream, she finds out how wrong she was.
As she front door swings open, she wonders why she didn't fight her mother harder about giving her a key to the house. She remembers her Mom promising never to come over without warning.
Sheila stands in the hallway, chest heaving. "Willow, what the hell was that?" She glares at her daughter and in doing so notices the slight bulge. Her face softens but she is silent and resolute.
Willow looks ashamed. "I didn't think it was such a bad way to tell you. Hey, you have to admit it was better than telling you in an email." She gives her toothiest smile but it does nothing to help her.
Her mother quivers - whether it is from rage or excitement is unclear. "Actually, I think both are just as disrespectful." She approaches Willow and lays a hand on her belly. "I hope Mister or Missy in there isn't learning all your bad tricks." She sits on the sofa beside her daughter and a smile spreads across her ageing face. "Congratulations, baby. I'm so, so happy for you."
"Congratulations to you, Mom. You're going to be Grandma."
Sheila straightens her shoulders proudly. "I'll be one of those trendy Grannys. I hope she's a girl. I'll teach her everything I tried to teach you about fashion." She smirks at the expression on Willow's face.
"I had wonderful fashion sense," Willow retorts.
"Honey, it's wrong to lie to your mother." Tara saunters through the front door, hanging up her umbrella and removing her leather jacket.
"Hello, Tara," Sheila says, eyeing the jacket. "So, I hear you're going to be a..." She trails off, her cheeks reddening.
Willow is enjoying herself. Her mother is a society woman, highly educated in polite conversation, yet she always seems stumped around them.
"A Double-Mom? She-Daddy? Homosexual Parent?" Willow supplies helpfully. "Plain old Momma?"
Sheila rolls her eyes. "Whatever you call it, I wish you the best of luck."
Tara smiles. "Thanks. I was actually planning to be called Mathair. 'Tis Irish."
"You girls." Sheila clucks. "Your child will be a character, that's for sure."
"You told her." Tara says it simply, without surprise or accusation.
Sheila has left. They've locked the door carefully, to ensure she doesn't return, and are making their way to bed.
Willow pauses. "I figured she had the right to know," she says evenly, hoping she doesn't sound defensive.
"I wasn't criticizing. Actually, if anything, I was admiring." She takes Willow's hand. "Your courage impresses me." .
"She took it well," Willow says, the rush of relief starting to hit. "Woohoo - no more wondering about how to tell Mom. I'm glad the Queer Moms made me do it."
"Queer Moms?" Tara is mystified.
"Oh! I didn't tell you." Willow leads Tara over to the computer and gestures at the screen.
Tara skims the chat conversation and laughs softly. "Looks like you've been busy."
"Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I forgot to tell you about it."
At that, Tara's body tensens. "I forgot to tell you something, too." She thinks of the conversation with Lisa and wonders how to convey such a moment.
Willow closes the laptop and slides beneath the clean sheets. "You're making me curious."
All at once, Tara feels her throat swell. She isn't sure how to talk over the lump. "I met with Lisa."
Willow's eyes widen. "And?" She wonders if that was the meeting Tara referred to in the note.
"Well, I had to force her to talk." Tara stops.
"I wonder how that feels," Willow jokes. "Come on, sweetie, what happened?"
"I discovered that we have more in common than feminism."
"No." Tara shakes her head. She wonders why sometimes soulmates barely need speech to communicate, and sometimes communication is impossible with or without speech. She runs her fingers through Willow's hair. "I meant... we have similar fathers."
Willow absorbs this. "How did it feel to talk to her about it?"
"It was hard. And surreal to hear what I feel coming from someone else's lips."
Willow nods. "If it helps any, you're probably making her life so much easier, just by existing. Just by being you."
"Yeah, it helps." Tara leans over to switch off the light at the same time that Willow reaches for her, and they collide.
The word 'sorry' is on Willow's lips when she realizes that Tara is crying. And she realizes that however strong Tara is going to be for Lisa will determine how strong Willow will need to be for Tara.
Her mother left and Lisa lay in the dark, wishing that her street was louder at night. The silence coagulated in the room, danced with the shadows on her walls, and prevented her from sleeping. Eventually, though, exhaustion kicked in.
"Come on, Lisa, sweetheart. We're leaving."
Lisa looked up, startled, and saw her Mom and Dad walking past. She'd found them, finally. They were smiling and her Mom was carrying a parcel.
"I'm coming," she replied, standing up and following them. She wiped dust off her skirt and walked as quickly as she could.
"Did you have fun at the fair?" Her father asked.
She was confused but replied, "Yes. Until I got lost."
Dad wasn't looking at her, she realized. She followed his eyes, past her mother and the cotton candy stand, over to the car. And she jumped, shocked, because standing by the car was an identical Lisa.
He walked over to the other Lisa and kissed her cheek, and her Mom handed her the parcel. "We got you a present, baby girl," she cooed.
The original Lisa, dusty and ignored, watched as they got into the car and drove away. She didn't wonder why they were treating this Lisa so much nicer than they usually treated her.
She wondered how she would fill the time until they came back for her. How long would it take them to realize they had the wrong daughter? Would they be angry and take back the present? It was getting late. She wondered where people without homes slept.
Lisa woke up. This time, she didn't forget the dream.