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Every morning, Papa wakes Anameli with a kiss and asks her what she dreamed.
“I dreamed that a ship sailed through the window of my bedroom and hid beneath my bed…”
“I was in a field and some wolves dressed as Little Red Riding Hood danced the Hokey Pokey with me…”
“There was an enchanted castle inside the closet and a ghost lived there but he was afraid of a sweater which was really a witch…”
“An alien appeared with the face of a lion and took me to the planet of the giant cats…”
“Aunt Lola gave me a bicycle that turned into a giant grasshopper and instead of rolling, took off in leaps up into the sky, but I wasn’t afraid at all…”
When Anameli recounts her dreams, no matter how strange they are, Papa only smiles and is calm.
But other times Papa is very worried! That’s when Anameli answers him, “Nothing, Papi. Last night I didn’t dream at all.”
It’s not that it is bad not to dream, or rather, to not remember what we dream (because whenever we sleep, we dream). Instead, whenever Anameli doesn’t remember her dreams, chaos ensues.
For example, one day Anameli says: “Nothing, Papi. I didn’t dream even a little bit.”
She gets out of bed, looks around her and…
“And Chirino? Where is Chirino?” she asks, on the verge of tears.
Nobody knows who Chirino is.
“Why, he’s my little dog, the one I’ve had since I was born, who knows how to shake hands and to sing in English!”
And Papa has to explain to her that she has never had any other pet aside from Tatito Timoteo, the cat. And that dogs don’t sing in English, or in any other language either.
Another day, Anameli says, “I didn’t have any dreams.”
But soon they find her making a hole in the garden.
“What are you doing, drear?” Mama asks, about to faint from seeing her daughter covered in dirt up to her eyelashes.
“I’m looking for the door, Mama.”
“The one that was here. The one that opens into the basement where we have lots of swings and slides and a pool.”
Of course, what happens when Anameli thinks she hasn’t dreamed anything is that she does dream… but she thinks that her dreams are a part of reality. And then anything might happen.
Like that time when Papa came home and found the Christmas tree full of lights and ornaments. That wouldn’t be bad… at Christmastime. But it happened in the middle of summer.
“Ameli says that Santocos coming today,” he was informed by Didi, Anameli’s little brother, who still didn’t speak very well, although he knew Santa Claus didn’t normally appear that soon after his last appearance but also that he should take advantage of any opportunity to get presents.
Worse was that day when Mama discovered that Anameli and Didi weren’t in the house. She looked for them in all the rooms, in the yard, beneath the living room sofa, but they weren’t anywhere. She went out into the street and, finally, she found them seated at the bus stop.
“Can one know where you think you’re going?” she asked, both angry that they had left the house without permission and relieved to have found them without a scratch on them.
“To the land of sweets, Mama,” Anameli answered. “I liked it so much when you took me, that I wanted to go back and show Didi the mint fields and the river of malted strawberry and the chocolate trees and the marshmallow bunnies. But the caramel train just won’t arrive…”
Every night, Mama and Anameli have a ritual: together they choose the pajamas she’ll wear, the pillow (she can choose from two: one very soft and fluffy, the other harder) and the stuffed doll that will sleep with her (the others remain on a chair).
Anameli brushes her teeth and gets into bed. Then Mama reads her stories until the little girl has fallen asleep.
Then Mama tucks her in and gives her a little kiss. Papa comes in. The two watch her sleeping and smile.
“Let’s see what she dreams of next,” Mama says very softly.
“And we’ll see if she remembers when she wakes,” Papa sighs.
Then they turn out the lights. In the distance, a neighing can be heard. In Anameli’s dream, a winged horse dressed as an astronaut appears…
translated into English from Mexican by Lawrence Schimel