I Dream of Simple Things
by Nikki Bell
I dream of simple things when I dream this dream that I can never get out of my head.
It is always raining and I am not sure of the significance of that, or even if there is any significance. It is always gray, and I am always waiting, waiting in the doorway with a small child pulling at my leg. I relish the normalcy of it all, of being just another woman at home, taking care of her child. Though I can never quite see my baby’s face I know that he is my own, standing in his diaper, chubby little arms reaching for me. I am his mother. He is my beautiful boy.
At the end of each day, when my husband pulls into the driveway and the baby starts chanting, Da-da, Da-da, I open the storm door and watch him toddle outside. His Dad’s face will light up when he sees the baby coming toward him, when he sees me behind the baby, still holding the door. I always beg my son to wait for me. I do not want him to get too far ahead.
This is a normal life, isn’t it?
But always, no matter how hard I try to dream this part away, a neighbor arrives home at the same time that my husband does. And while I am standing there holding the door, waiting for my husband to lock the car, grab his things, and come toward me with our laughing baby in his arms, there is the neighbor. The neighbor’s face is clear as day — it is always more clear than any other face in my dream — but he is not smiling or laughing. He is leering. Leering at me as if to say, I know who you are. You are not a wife, you are not a mother. You are a whore.
So I leave my husband with my child in his arms, and I walk away from everything I want
because of everything I am.
Nikki Bell wrote “I Dream of Simple Things” during “The Stories We Tell,” The Voices and Faces Project’s two-day testimonial writing program for survivors of gender-based violence or other human rights violations. Nikki is the founder and director of Living in Freedom Together (LIFT), a survivor led agency dedicated to supporting survivors of CSE and trafficking.