Jane had been asleep for several hours when she saw the image of the little village. She was alone in the dream (at least at its beginning) without any guides or emissaries from that world. Nevertheless, she knew immediately, instinctively, that the sun-baked collection of thatch and bamboo huts was a village in Thailand—a village not far from Bangkok, in fact.
Jane also grasped, in that instinctual manner of dreams, that the village was as remote in time as it was near in place. She was seeing the village as it had existed perhaps seventy or eighty years ago, when westerners had referred to Thailand as Siam, and Americans would have regarded the country as impossibly distant and exotic.
There were no cars in this village crisscrossed by pathways of reddish-brown mud. There probably weren’t many automobiles in the entire nation back then. The rice paddies on either side of the village were maintained by a combination of water buffalo and brute human power.
Something was compelling Jane to walk toward one of the little bamboo and thatch huts. There was nothing externally distinctive about this particular hut, but some force told Jane, Go there. Or perhaps it was a force inside the hut that said, Come here.
Jane walked through the darkened doorway of the hut, which was obscured in shadow even in this, the hottest part of the day.
The hut consisted of one largish room. The first thing Jane noticed was Khajee’s doll, little Lawan, propped upright in one corner of the room, as if watching the unfolding scene.
Jane was not alone in the hut with the doll. There was an adolescent girl, obviously Thai, bending over a crib that contained an infant.
Following the revelatory pattern of the dream thus far, Jane knew immediately that the infant was the adolescent girl’s younger sibling.
The adolescent girl ignored both Jane and the doll. She was far more concerned with checking the doorway and the hut’s sole window: She wanted to make sure that no one was observing her.
As so often occurs in disturbing dreams, Jane tried in vain to cry out when she realized what the young girl was about to do. Jane watched, from a short distance, as the girl wrapped both hands around her infant sister’s neck and began to squeeze.
There was a context here that Jane suddenly became aware of: At the beginning of her life, the adolescent girl had been the center of the household, the sole recipient of her parents’ attentions.
But this situation was not to last. Her mother had given birth to others. Each time, a new baby had displaced the first-born girl as the center of attention. The girl had resented this, and so she had taken action—now, for the third time in a little more than four years.
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