A more understandable existence.

Last night I dreamed of a child; a very young child. I knew it was a dream, even as I went through the motions of action in the dream. Knowing this while in the dream made it all no less discomfiting as I proceeded through it.

In the dream, I awakened with the child in my arms. She—I knew it was a she even without looking—was a newborn, eyes tightly shut. In my dream-sleep I had been mulling over names, repeating combinations and trying to find one that fit.The child never moved. She slept soundly, unaware of the fuss being made over her, only her clenched fist and face showing above the white blanket she was draped in.

"Victoria Alexandra," I said to the woman sitting beside my bed. "Call her Alexa until she grows into the name."

The woman beside me—whom I believe was intended to serve as my mother in the dream—snorted. "Are you trying to name a queen, with a name like that?"

"She needs strength. Why not start with a name that can bear it?" I replied.

Weeks passed, in the stuttering eye-blink timescape of dreams. I walked—at first slowly, and then more confidently—into shops and meetings, the tiny child cradled in my left arm. Always a white blanket, almost always sleeping. Everyone wanted to know why I had not shown her sooner.

Then, dreamlike, I appeared in the town that I grew up in—miraculously unchanged from my memories. I was taken to the school I attended—a school that, intellectually, I know is no longer standing—and walked the halls with the child sleeping in my arms, solemnly unwrapping the blanket to display her sleeping perfection to people who wanted to slake their curiosity.

"Victoria Alexandra," they said. "Are you trying to name a queen?" "If she's going to be called 'Alexa,' why not name her 'Alexandra Victoria' instead?"

"Because," I said, "Victoria Alexandra is what her name was intended to be. I only had to wait long enough to discover it." At that moment she yawned and opened her eyes—and I felt a shudder of fear, hope, and terror as I realized that she was truly focused on me, un-infant-like. I could feel the thoughts unreeling in my brain, a strange stuttering pattern of thought that I recognized must be hers.

: You may not be my mother, but for now you will be my protector. Until I am capable of protecting myself, you will do. :

At that moment, I awakened to the normal sounds of a Sunday morning; my littermate cats chirruping playfully at each other in another room, the sound of my husband clearing his sinuses and typing madly on his keyboard, the dull whump! of the heating system as it turned on.

No child, no understanding, just a dream and a name.

I got out of bed, dressed in warmer clothing, and padded into the reading room to turn on the grow light for the plants. Six sprouts in the box of basil, still just one in the box of dill. The peppermint and oregano need repotting, but the thyme and catnip seem content where they are.

A more understandable existence.

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