I was born by the side of the road in a year nobody remembers. Meaning not that nobody remembers that year, but that nobody who was there when I was born recorded the fact of my birth, or recalls it, or is still alive. Except for my sister.
I don’t recall meeting my sister, but I know that she was there because I have dreamed about her for as long as I can remember, and the dreams are clearly the remnants of a memory, and the memories must be real because of the key. People say I don’t have a sister, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. My dreams know the truth of things.
There are two dreams: one is dull and formless. It is a dream about a field of rapeseed, Brassica napus napus, in which my sister and I are lost, or playing. She calls out a word, and I call out a word. I follow the sound of her voice but find only a tree stump, and then the remains of a tractor rusted to nothing. The yellow flowers, which are like drawings of flowers, with their perfect array of four yellow petals, smell of mustard and so do my hands and the soles of my feet.
In the second dream, there is something lodged in my throat. It is hard. It is like the feeling I remember of having that chicken bone stuck in my throat that time (you remember) when we had to go to the emergency room and the nurse laughed at first but not after the x-ray and the MRI. Anyway, in the dream the thing in my throat is not a chicken bone. In my dream, we go to the emergency department and wait for hours in the waiting room. It is almost dawn when the doctor sees me. I lie on the bed of the MRI scanner, and everyone else leaves the room. They turn out the lights and a nurse I can hear but not see tells me to lie perfectly still. A magnetic field forms around my head, neck and chest, generating a perfect image of the key that is growing inside me. A key made of bone.
I go back out to the waiting room. When the nurse comes, I tell her that I know it was a key, because of the dream in which my sister and I have the same dream. The dream of the key that is lodged in our throat. The keys that are lodged in our throats.
On my sixteenth birthday, when I wake, there is a little blood on the pillow. Shaped like the flower of a rapeseed plant. And a bone key. The key is the length of my pinkie finger. Clearly made of bone: not quite white, still a little slippery. Over the years it will become harder and whiter. I wear it on a chain around my neck; strangers often ask me about my bone key. And I tell them, ‘I got it from my sister. She gave it to me in a dream.’