The beau and I are visiting a house, with a little girl. The house is very large and elegant. There are two little girls in the house, sisters, the older eight or nine. The house is full of incredibly rich things.

I worry that my little girl is jealous. I hope that she can see that though there are tons of toys, the parents aren't there. They aren't warm. They are either divorce or living in the same house without loving each other. This is a party and they are entertaining guests in the house.

It's Christmas. There are two giant still wrapped packages, toys, at the bottom of the stairs to the daylight basement. Adult size, children's wrapping. The girls' rooms are down there and a playroom, tucked as far from the adults as possible. I am looking for a bathroom. The father's office is down there too, barricaded with beautiful and showy musical instruments. I move the instruments and go in to the office. It has beautiful wood trim with a matching desk, but it is cold. No bathroom. The beau comes in and scolds me for going in there and for telling the two girls the truth: not in words but in actions. I'd shown an interest in them and they lit up. And they'd seen how I was with my little girl.

I put the instruments back, feeling disgusted with the father of the house for using precious instruments for a barricade and to barricade children out. The girls were supposed to stay in the downstairs and any other children would be sent there too.

I reply to the beau. "I am looking for the bathroom. The girls can only heal if they feel the pain of the truth. They can only learn about real relationships by knowing they exist."

The beau is upset. "You are ruining their party." We go upstairs to the kitchen and the older girl is there, gluing 3 hour and 3 day time periods to a calendar, showing how much time she'd had with each parent. It is not coming out even, one parent is an hour ahead. And no hours overlap. The room is filled with partygoers. In a lull the older daughter says, "Someone fucked up." with deep satisfaction. The room is silent, shocked.

I say, "You shouldn't be using time out words." The older daughter looks at me with rage and satisfaction. Her look says, "You taught me to be angry and to want real relationships." The younger girl is quiet. She is the sweet one, the pleaser, the charmer. She knows this is a change, she feels her sister's anger and she is worried about it. She knows she can't cover for her big sister or distract her, if she decides to be angry and fight. She is frightened and vulnerable and does not want to know about the parents. The beau is standing by, helpless, wishing that I have not opened that door. The parents aren't there, of course. They are off being charming and wonderful hosts, disengaged from the girls. And drinking. The girls are status symbols to them, smart, cute, bright objects to be trotted out and shown off. Banished to their distant rooms and playroom when they are inconvenient.

And I wake up.