I am okay. I think. But I do not know. I have a son. A husband. A dog. A life. But do I??? Sometimes my dreams make me doubt all of this. Sometimes I wake screaming in the dead of night, and have to run to my son's room to reassure myself that a bullet has not shattered his skull. Sometimes even my husband's arms are not enough to comfort me....
I wake. In the middle of the night. It's 30 degrees outside but I'm burning up with the heat of the fire that ravaged our house just seconds ago in my dream. Why is this happening to me? Why must I constantly live in fear of the night. And then. Flashback.
I was 6 years old. It was 10:37 p.m.Though I went to bed hours ago, I can still smell the sweet floral aroma of my mother's perfume. And just as I was surrendering to sleep, and my eyelids were drawing close, my world fell apart. The sound of a bullet ruptured the air, bringing forth all hell. "....Mother, Mother!!.....Your Brother!.....What's going on....911! 911! Please!.....Is everything okay?" No. Not everything is okay. My brother, my best friend, killed himself. Without him, I am no longer whole. I am a butterfly with a broken wing, unable to fly. And now the night is a place of terror.
And then. Back to reality. I look at my husband, sleeping peacefully. I have nightmares because I have not faced the night. I look through the window, up at the stars, and the inky black sky. "Bring it on!!!" I yell. "BRING IT ON!!! I can take it!!! I can do it! And I! Will! No Longer! LIVE IN FEAR!!!" I roll over, and as my eyelids close, I set my face into a grim, determined, scowl. I will do this, I think. I can do this. The idea of what is to come in my dreams terrorizes me until the moment I fall asleep.
I wake in a dark room, laying in a bed adorned with pink floral sheets. The numbers on the clock blink calmly. 10:09. I realize I am back in my childhood bedroom. This must be the night my brother died. I have to save him, I think. I have to. I quietly lift myself out of bed, and softly pad towards the door. I ease the door open, and see the soft glow of light coming from under my brothers door. I tiptoe down the hallway, careful not to wake my parents, and knock quietly on his door. "Who is it" I hear him mutter. "Me." I say, and without asking for permission, I walk in to his room. "What do you want." He says, with a dead voice. "A brother." I say. "I know you have a gun. I know you're going to kill yourself, but please, please, reconsider. You can be all right, just give me the gun." He looks up at me, a tear dripping down his cheek. "How did you know? How did anybody know? You guys never acted like you noticed, you never acted like you cared." I shake my head. "We care, we love you, we love you so, so much." Tears are streaming down his face now. He rolls over, and pulls a gun out from under his mattress. He offers it to me. "Hide it. Hide it somewhere I will never find, somewhere I will never look. So that if I feel like this again, I will be safe." I nod, take the gun, and run from his room, out of the house, and to the lake deep in the woods. I throw it, as far as I can, and hear the 'kerplunk' as it hits the water. I feel reassured. He is safe.
I wake once again, this time in my regular bed, with my sleeping husband beside me. I did it, I think. Even if it was just a dream, I did it. There is somewhere, deep in my dreams, where he will be forever safe and protected.
"You know that place between sleep and awake, where you can still remember your dreams? That's where I will always love you, that's where I'll be waiting."
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