The woman lights a small fire on the stone hearth of the farm kitchen. She then places a tripod over the fire and a saucepan of milk on the tripod. A girl comes in and stands by the fire warming her tiny hands. They both watch the milk respond to the heat.
"Mama, I had a dream last night," the girl says.
"About the new doll Aunty Carmen is bringing you, I bet?" the woman says cautiously.
"The new dress you are getting for the fiesta?"
"I give up."
"It was about a man in bed. He had a white beard. His mouth was open and there was a rattling sound coming from his throat. After he stopped rattling I heard women crying loudly."
The woman looks at the girl. You poor thing, she says to herself. The milk boils over and she removes the saucepan from the tripod using her apron.
"Father is in the stable feeding the cows. Fetch him for breakfast, dear." She wraps a scarf around the girl's head and chin. "It's cold," she says.
The woman stands by the window watching the girl walk across the yard to the barn. The dogs jump with joy at the sight of her and lick her face and hands. The woman sighs, turns away from the window and crosses herself. She brings out a small bowl and two large ones and half fills them with small pieces of rye bread.
The girl and the man come in, her hand in his, stand by the fire for a minute and sit down. The woman pours the milk into the bowls. She adds coffee to hers and the man's, honey to the girl's.
A neighbor comes in halfway through the breakfast meal. He has misplaced a roll of wire and needs to borrow some to fix his umbrellas. The woman offers him a cup of coffee.
He sits down and rolls a cigarette. "The bells are tolling in the village across the river," he says.
"It will be for Andres, the shoemaker," the man says.
"Snow is on the way," the woman says, looking out the window at the fat grey clouds.
"The northern hills are already white from last night," the man says.
"Bad for the funeral if it sets in," the neighbor says.
"Do you want more milk and honey?" the woman asks the girl.
"Then go and play with your dolls." "Yes, Mama."
"She is an angel," the neighbor says. "Looks like one too," he adds after the girl has left the room.
The woman gets up and starts putting away the pots from the night before. The man and the neighbor talk some more about the weather on their way to the tool shed.
After the neighbor leaves the man thinks that the snow will be useful for catching the fox that regularly raids the village coops. He finds the trap and is at the workbench cleaning and oiling the spring-release mechanism when the woman joins him.
"She told me," she says.
"Told you what?"
"That Andres the shoemaker had died."
"He was sick for a long while. She would have been aware of it."
"And what about foreseeing Amelia going blind?"
"She observes ... "
''And the priest's barn catching fire last summer?"
"It was started by lightning."
"She knew of it a week in advance."
"She is a lovely girl."
"People will talk. At school they will call her names."
The man puts down his tools, then places his arm around the woman's shoulders.
"They are only dreams," he says.
© Félix Calvino 2009
This electronic version of "They Are Only Dreams" appears in The Barcelona Review with kind permission of the author and publisher. It appears in the anthology Fast Forward, Vol. 2, edited by K. Scott Forman, Kona Morris, and Nancy Stohlman, FF>> Press, 2009. Book ordering available through amazon.com and amazon.co.uk
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