Dreams: And then I cut her fingers off

Colour photograph of a hand bandaged to give the appearance of missing two fingers, covered in fake blood

Some time ago, I dreamed a horror film. Or at least parts of one. Please excuse the slightly disconnected writing. It was a slightly disconnected dream. Parts were missing and I don’t want to invent them. This isn’t a story. It’s just a dream.

It began in the 1950s. I could tell by the furniture. I was a girl, a teenager, living at home with my parents. I had a baby boy in my arms and I knew he was mine but I couldn’t remember giving birth or being pregnant. I couldn’t remember anything before that moment. My mother said gently, “You have to give him a name, dear” but I didn’t want to because I was scared I would choose the wrong name and he would have it forever and hate it.

Next, it was night and I was older, standing outside my house in the pouring rain, crying, as a young man stood in front of me covered in blood and wearing ripped clothes. I could hear sirens. I begged him to leave with me but he said, “No, you have to let them take me this time. Please let them take me.”

Then we were in the car. I had somehow convinced him to come with me but he was angry and shaking his head and shouting at me to stop driving, to let go of the wheel and stop. I refused to. He took a knife from his pocket and started cutting through my fingers that were gripping the steering wheel. I couldn’t feel anything but I couldn’t hold on any more.

Him, in a bleak prison hospital, wandering through a faltering blue-green electric haze. He was repeating “…and then I cut her fingers off” every few seconds, like he kept forgetting and then remembering and needing to tell someone. No-one was listening.

Decades later and I was in church for the first time in years. No-one would look at me. I was sitting in a corner and when it came time to sing a hymn, I couldn’t find the right page in the book and there wasn’t room to stand up.

I walked outside, past a minister who wouldn’t meet my eye, and found my car with the doors open and a window broken. There was a dog lying on the seat inside. I thought it might have been dead. I didn’t know.

I woke up.

I do remember the name I gave the baby and I have looked it up to see if the dream was a memory of something I’d read about, but because I don’t know my surname from the dream and was searching for only a first name and middle name, I wasn’t able to find anything relevant.

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