Slowly stretching, my eyes opened and for a little moment I was confused on where I was. It wasn’t my apartment. Waking from my slumber, the memory of the previous day and all of its events were coming back. I recalled being invited to Camila’s place and actually spending the night. A part of me had thought it had all been a dream but seeing all the unfamiliar surrounding made me realize that it had been real.
It was early and I didn’t want to wake Camila or Lara but I wasn’t tired anymore. So I decided to be quiet and get up. Trying to make a minimum amount of noise, I made my way into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of orange juice. I sat down on a stool at the kitchen counter while looking around. The fridge was plastered with pictures of the young mother and her daughter, as well as drawings from the child. I couldn’t help but smile since all the photos were absolutely adorable.
Suddenly, I heard a noise and almost spilled my juice when I saw a small shadow approaching. Lara rubbed her eyes sleepily. I instantly felt bad because I assumed I had woken her up after all.
“Hey, little one”, I whispered carefully and she waved subtly.
“Morning”, she replied quietly.
“Good morning”, I smiled again. “Why are up already? It’s Saturday and you can sleep in.”
“I couldn’t sleep”, the six year-old sighed and came closer. Her arms lifted as she reached me, gesturing that she wanted me to pick her up. Of course I obliged and sat her on my lap. The fact that she was still so comfortable with me made my heart swell.
“Why couldn’t you sleep?” I asked but she only shrugged lightly. “Did you have a bad dream?”
This time she didn’t even shrug but simply stayed quiet. My swelling heart immediately took a dive at the idea that I was right.
“Can I have some juice?” the hazel-eyed deflected.
“Sure”, I said quickly and handed her the glass. It was nothing short of adorable to see her using both hands to drink. I waited until she was done before I lightly stroked her hair. “It’s okay if you had a bad dream. I have them too sometimes.”
“Really?” she looked up and met my gaze with uncertainty.
“Yeah”, I nodded. “Everyone has them at times. But it helps if you talk about them. At least for me because then they don’t seem as bad anymore once you told someone else. So if you want, you can always talk to me, okay?”
In hopes my words would resonate with her, I stopped talking and let her think while stroking the light-brown hair in a soothing manner.
“In my dream the kids at the school were making fun of me”, Lara confessed while looking down.
“That’s definitely a bad dream”, I validated instantly to make her feel understood. “Why were they making fun of you though?”
“They called me a nerd because I like going to school and learning”, her voice grew louder while opening up.
“Do they only do that in your dream? Or did that really happen in school?” I had another hunch that there was more to her bad dream.
“Sometimes they tease me”, the child admitted and my heart broke a little. Her eyes were focusing on the counter and determined not to look at me. I wasn’t sure if she was ashamed but it looked like it.
“You know what”, I said and tried to get her to look at me. “They used to tease me in school, too.”
“Why?” she asked apparently surprised but met my gaze.