Only Child

Date: 7/13/2019

By Keraniwolf

This dream stars a teenage girl, her close friend, & her family. To avoid calling her "the girl" or "the protagonist" every time I refer to her, I'll call this main character by the name Max. The dream starts with socks. Colorful, tiny baby socks. Max lives in a fairly small house, with an ever-growing family. Each time her parents have another baby (or set of babies), the number of socks increases. Her mother hands her another set fresh from the store, to wash and fold before her tiny, new siblings can wear them. Max's friend thinks the socks are adorable. Her mom thinks they're essential to the babies. Max herself thinks they're the worst thing ever. She hates them. Resents them. She gets mad every time there are more, or when she folds them and remembers just how many pairs are already in the house. She isn't afraid to say so, either. Not only does she complain at length to her friend (who always seems to be visiting, to the point where she practically lives at Max's house, too), but she outright confronts her parents about the issue. Continuing to have more children in such numbers and so rapidly is reckless, annoying, and nowhere near as cute as they seem to think. If they'd get their hands off each other for 5 minutes, she suggests, maybe they'd realize that and slow down for a change. I don't remember exactly what her mom's response was, something about loving all her children equally -- including Max, of course. The only mostly clear part of it is that her mom laughs it off by the end of their conversation, and Max is left angrier than ever. That's when the catalyst for the second part of the dream appears. It comes in a form much like protein shake powder, with either a label or an accompanying page in a book that explains its power. I have no idea where Max or her friend have found this, or why it's there, but it is a dream; not everything needs a reason. Regardless, the substance promises that it will grant a wish to the user. With her friend in the room with her and two pairs of baby socks in hand, Max wishes that her parents never had any children past her -- that she lives the life of an only child. Free from chaos and noise and neglect and tiny, baby socks. She leaves her room the next morning to have a look around the house. She encounters her parents along the way, who ask her to help in the bar under their home as they (apparently) always have. Except they ask with a little more energy, and a little more care towards Max herself. It's as if they're free, too. Like they were under just as much pressure from having those kids as Max. She asks them about the socks, but they just seem confused. They ask her if she wants those small, heel socks or something. They'll buy some for her if that's what she wants, but it's a strange request. She says they're wrong and somehow redirects the conversation. Shortly after, she's alone in the house again and searches for other signs of the babies. She goes to the nursery room where most of the younger ones stay, and doesn't find a nursery at all. Instead, she finds a normal-looking guest room. Small bookshelf. Bed for one person to fit in perfectly. Heavy, red blankets. Fluffy pillows. Sophisticated wood paint on the walls. It looks like something from a TV show about a much richer family than hers. She's happy. Not excited, exactly, but really happy. Everything is at peace. She helps make snacks in the bar. It's implied that the bar I see in this dream is the same now as it's always been. It's a dimly lit place staffed by thin, curvy women dressed in alluring outfits. These outfits are made of a light, silky, teal material with a totally sheer layer over the actual outfit. It's a very short top with long sleeves and long pants. It has little decorations on it, making a design something like what belly dancers might wear. The girls even wear sheer veils of the same color over their faces. It's an odd business, looking at it now, but to Max and her family and the moocher friend who spends so much time with them, it's become normal. Servers flirting with customers in the dark while they hand them drinks and snacks is their daily routine, and there are rules that most patrons seem to respect. Look, but don't touch. Even Max herself feels safe to come out from behind the counter sometimes, though she prefers to stay in the kitchen if possible. Today, she's even more comfortable than usual. Her parents are actually paying attention to her. They're being considerate of her, where they never would have had time to slow down and think before they speak when the babies were around. They even allow Max to go out with her friends the next day, where they usually couldn't afford to leave the house unattended while they worked when the babies were part of the equation. There's a whole scene about Max's experiences at a theme park with her friend and other classmates their age, too. Something involving a huge water slide maybe, and some other rides, but I've forgotten most of it. I do remember Max checking the house again when she comes home, and commenting to her friend that everything feels unreal and incomplete and hazy. Well, her friend reasons, the effect of the shake thing is temporary, after all. She says the instructions on it (or on the accompanying page, whichever) were surprisingly clear up to a point. She makes some comment about magic like this always having some kind of price. Max says it should be fine. She's okay with it being temporary. She can confront her parents with a clearer head when things go back to normal. She just wanted some peace and quiet for a little while. That's all. This has felt too good to be true, anyway. Idyllic. When she wakes up the next morning, she expects everything to go back to how it was before she used any magic. As soon as she steps out of her room, however, she realizes things aren't how they were at all. Things aren't how they were when her wish was fulfilled, either. The house is back to being shabby again. Her parents are tired again. There are a couple pairs of tiny socks on her bed. But there's nowhere near the number she had to told before. She goes to look for the rest, in the nursery room. It's also changed. It isn't the vibrant nursery from before, but nor is it the high-class guest room from her wish. It's a haphazardly thrown together guest bedroom. Half storage, half bed. The expensive-looking red blanket is now a pink down comforter. The wall isn't wood painted, but instead looks like it was hastily painted over a long time ago. Max can still see a little evidence of the nursery wall that was there before. Searching the house more, it isn't hard for her to figure out what happened. In the world of her wish, life had centered around her. Since her parents were satisfied having just her, they never tried to have any other kids. In this other world, post-wish, they did try. Except, this time, things didn't work out. They never actually succeeded in having more kids, or else the kids themselves didn't make it very long. It's a world where she's the only child, but she isn't as much at the center of their lives. There are other things wearing them down, now. They were tired with all their kids, but never worn down. Never sad. Now... Max's friend warns her not to talk about the kids. As if she didn't already know that, Max retorts. She tries to be careful all day. Helping in the bar, she realizes things have become different here as well. The server girls' previous uniform is now even more revealing. It's basically just a set of sleeves and a pair of pants. Their chests are completely exposed, and they lure customer away into closed-off rooms that didn't exist in the old world. The look, don't touch rule now has the addendum of "unless you can afford it" attached. I'm not sure why her parents took this route in their business, but it's another source of confirmation for Max that she didn't want this world. She misses her old one, now. She misses folding baby socks. She misses the chaos. She almost wishes that she had never made that wish to begin with, but things are how they are now. She's in this world. She'll have to learn to live with that. Make the best of things. Late that night, she takes the baby socks from her bed and hides them away. Her mom almost catches her, but she succeeds in keeping them balled up behind her back. Her friend tags along at some point, but doesn't ask any questions. She's surprised when Max doesn't throw the socks away, but hides them in the guest room instead. She doesn't want to make her parents sad by keeping the socks out in the open, but still... even if she and her friend are the only ones who remember the days of folding tiny, baby socks, there are people who remember. I don't think she wants to lose that. As much as she might resent her past, it's still hers. There was a world where she had a small house and a big family. She just has the small house now. She doesn't want to forget the big family. Even now that they're gone. That's all I remember. I think I blame a manga I read for the depressing nature of this dream. It was interesting in spite of making me feel kinda bummed out for Max's family. Until next I wander.