I thought I would give birth to a creature that was half-dog, half-human. I dreamed it to life, it was gestating in those dark moments before wakefulness when reality is an echo at the very top of a deep well. I dreamed the thing was pink, squirmy baby colour, but with a fine coating of fur and black eyes and a long penis stretching the length of its belly and ending in a bright red worm which retracted its head when the creature breathed. In dream, I held the thing at arm's length, the hideous proof of what I had done.
What had I done?
Here is a small child at the top of the back stairs. It is hot and she, I, let me own this because it is my story after all - I have come here because this place is one of the few safe places in the whole of the house and garden. This tiny corner of the world makes me invisible. My mother, standing at the sink can strain and stand on tiptoe but she will never see more than my shoes and only then if I choose to stretch my legs down to the second step.
It is hot and the dog is panting. It is a young dog, new to my house and more quick to play than our Labrador who sleeps on my bed and presses her nose into my lap when I am crying, but who likes to lie around most of the time.
Because of the extraordinary heat the new dog is calm for once. He is perched with his haunches pressed into my hip. I stroke his sleek fur, short and clean and gingerish. On this day he can not settle. He sits and pants, shifting, stands and pants, shifting. I watch him, remembering all the times I have felt this way, itchy with heat, distracted by potential games but lacking the energy to chase them. I pat the inside of the dog's thigh, so lean but meaty, like something that could be torn from a corpse and gnawed on. I am always thinking this kind of thing, although I know that I should not be. In a Dr Suess story, I learned that I should only think of fluffy things or else I might just 'thunk up a glunk'. I simultaneously want, and also do not want, to thunk up a glunk.
The dog stands and shifts and its meat-bone thigh is at little-girl height and its penis is right here, panting in time to his breaths. The little red worm of it is slipping in and out of its velvety sheath.
I watch it.
Glunk. I thunk. Don't thunk a glunk.
At school, yesterday, someone had made a joke about mums and dads sleeping in the same bed and wearing no pyjamas. Everyone laughed. I didn't.
"My mum and dad never slept in the same bed,"I had said.
"But they must have at some time."
"At least once."
And then the joke had turned nasty, the little nip of giggles directed right at me. Kiddy mirth like piranha. I knew that this must be like the 'Santa Clause Thing' when they would ultimately prove that they were right and I was wrong.
The act, apparently, involved a dad putting his thing and then some kind of white stuff and then a baby.
Here, on this hot concrete step, I look over at the new dog and it's wormy thing and there is indeed some white stuff, just like they said there would be.
I am in this spot where no one can possibly observe me. If I had been sitting anywhere else I would never do it, but I am here, and so I will.
I touch it, the thing, and when I touch it, a drop of milk oozes onto my finger and I pull aside my knickers quickly and make it go where the kids at school have told me it should go.
The idea of a baby, half-dog, half-child, begins to gestate in my imagination.
Let me tell you now, I was the kind of child who gathered snails and let them crawl over my shirt leaving silver trails. I was the child who rolled in mud and told my mother I had slipped and fallen in a puddle. I was a child who kneaded a bar of soap in hot water until it was a viscous brew. I liked to sink my fingers in egg-white and chalk dust and rubbed the little nuggets of rosin I found on the floor at ballet on my upper lip.
There were weeks of secret nightmare births, I was followed by wolf-howls and padding shadows. I opened my legs in front of a mirror, checking for any signs of a beastial pregnancy, thinking that one day I might reach inside myself and feel the embryonic row of canines growing in a soft-furred skull.
This story has remained a secret until now. I have told no one, not even my best friend who I would tell everything to. Now after a sleepless night, plagued by half-dreams and the idea that I might have to once more reach for the anti-depressants, I drag the mongrel foetus out of the mire of memory and fling it into the world.
Perhaps tomorrow night I will begin to sleep again.