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Friday, February 13, 1998
By Paul Ford
I dreamt last night about a friend, someone I barely know; in the dream, we sat at a blank table in a white room. She told me about her childhood, and her abusive father.
Some of the abuse was violent. "Once," she told me, "he pushed me to the ground, and then pushed a bookcase on top of me. I couldn't breathe. He lifted it off after ten minutes."
When she performed poorly in school, an advisor encouraged her father to send her to a psychologist. He agreed, but her father threatened violence if she revealed anything during counseling. "I spent most of the hour crying each week, refusing to speak. I was fourteen. The counselor kept trying. I would only nod."
"Finally," she said, "I figured I could show the psychologist the bruises on my back, from the bookcase falling. That way I didn't have to speak about my father. I did this--"
In the dream, she stood, and removed her striped shirt, her back to me. Her back was clean, smooth, and unbruised; she curved inward from chest to hip, and then outward again, into jeans.
She turned, wearing a tan lace bra.
"So that's how I got into foster care."
I nodded, and she sat back down. After a moment, she put her shirt on. I took her hand from across the table, and we sat in silence, alone in the windowless white of the room, before I woke in a shiver.