The Stardust Review
A Dream of My Daughter
By: Brandon Daily
I dream that my daughter is a fish. Or rather I dream that she is becoming a fish.
Each night, in my dreams, another part of her is transformed. It began with gills showing on her neck, just below her ears. In that dream, she sat on my lap marking up a coloring book with a sea-blue crayon while I ran my fingers through her hair, long and blonde like her mother’s, when I brushed my hand against the thin slits that waved drunkenly in the still air. My body grew cold then and I pulled my hand back quickly, waking myself up from the dream.
The next night, I dreamt that I was watching her at a dance recital, but when she came on stage, I saw that her arms had been replaced with fins. The strangest part may have been that no one else in the audience with me seemed to notice her changes.
In the next night’s dream, I looked down at her while she slept and saw that her body was covered in a slick mucus skin, and though I tried, I couldn’t hold onto her. She kept slipping out of my hands and falling back to her mattress.
A tailfin formed the next night.
Last night I lay in bed, afraid of what dreams might come in the darkness. Eventually, I fell asleep and found myself sitting on the edge of our pool out back. My feet dangled into the water and my wife sat beside me, holding a sweating glass of tea. In the pool, I could see my daughter, now almost entirely a fish, except for her long, blonde hair. She swam back and forth in the water, free. I followed her with my eyes, tracking her quick movements. Every now and then, she leapt above the surface. When this happened, my wife laughed and smiled beside me.
After I woke, I sat up in bed a while, studying the swirling shadows on the wall that seemed to drip down to the carpet. Then I got up and walked quietly into my daughter’s room and watched as she slept peacefully. After a few minutes, I slowly reached out my shaking hand and splayed her fingers and toes apart, just to make sure.
Brandon Daily is the author of the novel A Murder Country, which was awarded the Silver Medal for the Georgia Author of the Year Award--First Novel in 2015, and The Valley, a 13th Annual Best Book Awards Finalist--Literary Fiction. He has a collection of short fiction, Darkening, that will be published in the fall of 2019. His short fiction, nonfiction, plays, and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, and his one-act play “South of Salvation” was performed and won first prize in the CAST Players One Act Play Festival in 2012. Brandon currently lives in Southern California with his wife and son.