For months I’d been crying myself to sleep every night, this night, I lay awake on my bed, eyes wide open. I know it won’t work, I can already feel sleep dragging at my eyelids, but it’s worth it if I can ward off the terror. Every night I have the same nightmare, it shakes me from my sleep screaming and crying. It’s so frightening I can never finish it. Just as I complete a sentence in my head, sleep drags me under. I’m falling as always. I land roughly on the damp dirt, even if it’s a dream it feels so real, almost alive. I jolt up quickly, I’m in the same cold, foggy forest. The trees whisper, so quiet I’ll get a headache if I try to listen. The same dark figure, too far away to see, calling to me. I step towards the figure. A cold, wet hand grabs my arm and I scream. I wake up shrieking and crying, covered in sweat. My dad comes rushing in with a cup of water. The nightmares over.
I’m sitting in my bed again, wide awake. I’ve made a decision that if I’m ever going to get rid of these nightmares I have to finish them. All these started when mum died, but I’m not sure what they have to do with each other. Are these dreams a way of my brain channeling the grief? I drift into sleep. Falling into the same woods again, the same murmuring trees, same dark figure. But this time when the hand grabs my arm I turn and look. Whatever was standing there blew into the mist and the hand was no longer. I take another step towards the dark figure. Then another. Then another, confidence rising in me. Vines wrap around my ankles and, once again, I wake up screaming in a sweat. This is impossible.
Before bed the next night, I’m sitting next to my dad, when he tells me something. “You know, your mother used to have the exact same problem as you. Nightmares every night, it eventually drove her into a deep dark place. She wasn’t eating, sleeping or bathing. It just became too much for her,” he reminisced “but you’ll push through it? You won’t leave like her?” He strokes my hair softly.
“No, of course not Dad,” I smile and turn over.
That night, I don’t bother trying to stay awake. I go straight into my dream. I push through the hand that grabs me, I push through the vines that wrap around my ankles. Focusing just on the figure, I take deep breaths and shove past any obstacles. Soon I realise I am no longer in the woods, but a field, golden grass swaying and storm cloud rumbling. I keep walking towards the figure. I have no idea if I’m ready for this. I squeeze my eyes shut as I get closer. Something touches my face. I don’t scream, it’s warm. I feel safe. I open my eyes and see my mothers face smiling down at me. Tears sting my eyes and I wrap my arms around her waist. I wake up, sunlight streaming through my bedroom window.
The next night I drift off to sleep quickly, and when I next wake up, it’s morning. No screaming, no crying and definitely no nightmare.