On the Freedom to Eat Fruit

Nadia Staikos

I dream I’m running through a jungle, wet fronds slapping across my face. I’m being chased by a tiger, and there is no hope. My first thought upon waking, heart pounding, is that—tiger and all—I’d rather still be asleep. I look it up. Being chased by a dream-tiger symbolizes that you are not ready to face your own emotions and fears. It can symbolize the anger that you feel toward someone. There is possibly a person who has a negative impact on your life.


For a while, I thought my worth was in putting up with things that most others wouldn’t. I’m still not sure who I thought was keeping track.


What if you dream that he has cut off your ponytail, and you hold it in your hand and shake it at him, imploring, “See what you’ve done?”


I’m standing outside of our house, looking up. I can see three windows where there should be only two. I can’t fathom how it could be there, and yet there it is. I ask him about it. He shakes his head, narrowing his eyes. “Don’t worry about the window.”


I dream that we try to kiss, but our mouths repel like two magnets screaming with all of their might, “We are both the north!” But sometimes, in other dreams, I want him. These dreams are coloured with urgency and frustration. There’s always something keeping us apart, but I’m toppled by the strength of my desire; its existence. I’m wracked with disappointment when I wake up.


What if you dream that you’re watching whales, and then just one whale in particular? There’s something about this whale you can’t quite put your finger on. You’ve never seen it before—in fact, it’s your first time ever seeing a whale at all—but you recognize the way you feel when it looks at you. It opens its mouth and swallows you whole.


The parking lot clears, everyone is running. There is no time. My friend and I drop everything and run to our car. We don’t have the keys to start it. They are coming. It is two men, and we know they’re carrying things that can hurt us. They, themselves, are things that can hurt us. They are yelling and they’re after everyone. We know it’s bad. I curl up in a ball in the backseat, pressed against the passenger side door. My friend does the same in the front. We try to mold ourselves into the doors and render ourselves invisible. She is crying. Her fingers reach for mine, and I hold them. When I wake up, I worry about my friend and her partner. I worry because she was in the same car as me, and maybe the car in the dream was not a car at all, but a boat.


I dream that we are babysitting our friend’s toddler. She’s in the bath and I walk in to see her slipping beneath the soap-streaked surface. He’s sitting on the bath mat and from the doorway I yell, “Grab her!”

He glares at me, incredulous. “I just want to eat this apple—why can’t you let me do that?” The baby is underwater.

I gather my nerve and scream.



Nadia Staikos (she/her) lives in Toronto with her two children. Her work has previously appeared in perhappened mag, Montréal Writes, Blue Lake Review, and elsewhere. She is currently working on her first novel and tweets @NadiaStaikos.