by Jessica Popeski
Every night I dream about my Dad’s children. Their shapes wax and wane, morph from kittens, coiling their velveteen bodies around my ankles, to dolls, then babies. Not yet walking. Pudgy splats of children, lolling lumps of clay on the carpet. They wear plush, fuzzy jumpsuits. Brilliant colours. They make me love them. The kind of love you don’t know what to do with. The kind that’s so big you can’t hold it, like a bouquet of innumerable glittering helium-filled balloons without ribbons to grip onto. You curl your arms wide like a globe around them, but still they flutter away, rainbow specks decorating sky. The kind that floods your body with its ocean. The kind that folds your heart up really small, into a tiny frightened square, then bursts it into flames, or flowers. The kind that makes you want to scoop them, swing them, squeeze them, push your face into their pink cheeks.
The girl looks at me. Looks like me. The boy too. Swat their little hands in the air – pulsating blue, slowly, like water – fingers splayed and wiggling, thrust their arms up, their eyes like four stars, desperate to be picked up. I try. Desperate, too, to fill my lungs with that soft inexplicable baby smell, soothe them in the hammock of my arms. But I can’t, they’re too heavy. I heave and clamour, my face screaming scarlet, frustration bubbling in my chest.
And then I wake up.