Anna called me mid-morning. I was preparing for my first big meeting with the head of the department.
I was pressed for time but I put my notebook down. She was telling me about the house she was looking at when I remembered my dream.
"I had a dream last night that I was breastfeeding a newborn baby."
For a moment I forgot about the meeting and I forgot about the phone, lost in the details; the dark haired baby, swaddled firmly in white flannel. There was a time when swaddling sick babies was my specialty. But this was different.
"It was so real."
"Ew", she laughed, bringing me back to the conversation. "You were a wet nurse?"
She might as well have kicked me in the stomach.
The more I think about it the more it bothers me. I mean, is this how my friends see me? I can't be a mother even in my own dreams?
I am the best friend a girl could ask for; I have perfected the science. I love their children. I am their Tia Rachel or their Auntie Rachel. But I am more maternal than most of my friends put together—they would tell you that—and yet a dream like that to Anna could only mean I am lending out my services in some sad role straight out of the dark ages or some la leche breastfeeding cult.
If she had time to consider her reaction she wouldn't have said it. I know that. She didn't mean to hurt me. I guarantee she doesn't even know she did. But the message was loud and clear, from a place that never lies.
As I type this the phone rings. It's Anna.
"Fuck you", I say to my empty apartment. I let it ring.