My own scream wakes me with a start, confused… disorientated…terrified, I look around the darkened room. The same room I sleep in everyday, but it’s different. It’s dark, quiet… Its right there, I can feel it. My eyes scan the darkness; dread rises up in my chest. I try to pull back the panic as I draw the sheet and comforter over my head. I leave just a small opening for my eyes and mouth.
I tell myself, “It was just a dream, a nightmare.” Still my eyes search the darkness; it is too real for a dream. I am awake now and it is there. My breathing is heavy and my heart races. I remember when I was a child and would wake with the same feelings. I would huddle down into the bed sheets, trying to be small but it was there. It knew I was there. I’d try to remember the nightmare; something was chasing me, or catching me, or crushing me.
It’s not real I tell myself. I am alone I wish she was here, I would feel better. She would whisper, “Its okay.” Her soft voice would drive it away but she isn’t here.
My mind races. Should I get up, reach for the light? Light scares it away, it always does. But I am safe in my cocoon of blankets and it is there. Waiting, patiently for me to move, to panic … “It was just a dream,” I repeat over and over in my head.
My breathing starts to return to normal, my heart slows, and I move quickly to the light and snap the switch up. Light floods the room and it is gone. I sit on the edge of the bed and look around…I am alone in the same room I sleep in every day. I won, it’s gone. It’s not there; it’s been forced into the back of my mind. My rational brain takes control. I get up, get a drink and head back to my bed, still warm. I reach for the switch again as I glance around the room one more time. It is not there but as I huddle back into the safety of my blankets I know it is waiting.