For as long as I could remember, the nightmares came nightly.
A whirlwind of darkness engulfed my dreams as my pillow turned to stone, night after night. My body fought for sleep, my eyes heavy, they would no longer stay awake. I relaxed into the softness of my bed as the day melted away and then it would happen. My inner spirit floated to the ceiling as I watched my body lay in the bed below, asleep, lifeless.
The room slowly started to spin around, faster, and faster until the room turned black, then stopped. Streaks of light filtered through the dark room from the light of the moon outside.
Off in the distance I faintly heard a child’s laughter. I looked around and things began to change; a sense of wellbeing surrounded me as I saw a small girl. The room brightened.
Happiness and joy, love, and comfort at the beginning of each nightmare. They were frightening, traumatic, and haunting, even during the day.
I floated above in a room unlike mine. It was soft, white, like a fluff of cotton, warm and soothing. A dim light shone through the bedroom door; a glow cast against the large poster bed with its white and pale blue comforter. A little girl who looked to be about three years old was dressed in red plaid pajamas. She climbed up on the overstuffed chair that sat squarely in the corner, a book, and eyeglasses teetered on the arm of the chair. Strong woodsy cologne lingered in the air. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. Held it in, then slowly exhaled through my mouth, calmness surrounded my soul.
A man, with his dark hair slicked back stood before the little girl. He loosened his tie as her big eyes looked to him with love. Her world was safe in his heart.
I heard her say, “Merry Christmas, Daddy!” He bent over and picked her up from the chair. Her curls bounced against his face. He kissed her cheek and tossed her on the bed. Giggles filled the room as he tickled her bare toes. A woman entered the room and flicked on the light. She unfastened her hair clip, tossed her head back, and shook down her long soft strands of gold. She looked elegant in an ivory satin gown with her small figure and rounded belly. A smile spread across her face. The little girl had the same beautiful infectious smile. I felt the love from this family.
“You two are silly.” The woman said as she joined the girl on the bed. The girl jumped into the woman’s arms. “I love you Mommy.” She giggled.
I wanted to be that little girl in her mother’s arms. Feel the warmth of her love and smell the clean scent of her perfume. Oh how I longed to have a mother like that.
“I love you too baby doll. It’s time for bed; it’s been a long day.” The woman said.
The little girl scrunched her nose and let out a long sigh, she protested with a sad face, and then blinked her eyes at the man.
“No, sweetheart don’t look at daddy like that you know you melt me with those big blues.” The man with his deep eyes towered over her as he unbuttoned his shirt, exposing his broad chest. She puckered her lower lip out more.
“One story from the book Santa brought me, please?” She held up a tiny white book.
The woman gave in to her plea and fluffed the pillows on the bed as they all settled together. The man cradled the girl in his arms. His legs stretched across the covers, I realized how tall he must be as his feet nearly hung off the end of the bed. The woman propped the small white book against her swollen belly.
Relaxed I watched the family nestled in the overstuffed bed. My body descended to the floor.
The little girl pulled a bear to her chest, its fur worn in places, I was sure it must have been her favorite toy.
I watched from across the room and then closed my eyes, took in a deep breath as the cold of winter melted away from the comfort and love, the woman began to read.
“This is love that we walk after his commandments. II John 1:6.”
I opened my eyes the girl smiled and hugged her bear tighter. The woman patted her stomach and said; ‘“Look sweetie, the baby likes the book too.”’ They watched for a minute as the baby moved inside the woman. The book fell from her belly. Laughter shook the bed as the girl picked it up and asked for more.
“Okay then it’s off to bed,” the man softly whispered.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrew 11:1. Without faith, it is impossible to please…” The woman’s voice trailed off.
“Honey did you hear that?” She sat up and looked towards the bedroom door.
The man, almost asleep, heard a crash come from the hall. I, myself was startled. I held my breath and put my hand over my heart to steady it. The hair on my arms rose as my bones chilled. I knew this was a nightmare, yet, night after night I never prepared myself for what was about to happen next.
“Sweetheart, stay with mommy I’ll go see what it is.” The man told the girl as he placed her next to the woman. He got up off the bed and walked towards the hall. But before he reached the door, a tall dark figure appeared followed by a shorter fuller one. The little girl jumped off the bed and hid behind the curtains. What happened next no child should ever witness.
In a split second, I saw my motionless body lying in my bedroom asleep, and the little girl hidden behind the curtain, the feel of comfort gone. Pressure restricted my chest, heaviness. Screams, yells, and laughter hit my ears. The little girl pressed her face to the cold window and plugged her ears with her tiny pudgy fingers. The sounds muffled.
It hurt to breathe. I became dizzy, light headed. The room spun out of control. I watched the little girl, her eyes pleaded with a man outside the window, but he didn’t see her. I tried to scream for help; nothing came out. My body shivered. The room became icy, gray, and dull. Goose bumps covered my body like a spineless snake coiling around my neck. I felt helpless, weak. Nothing I could have done.
“Look up, look up.” I tried to yell while I pounded my fist on the glass. Why didn’t the man look up?
My voice silenced by fear. Tears blurred my vision. Panic, don’t panic. The little girl needs me.
I held my head to stop the spin of the room. The little girl saw me, her face frightened. She held her hand out. I tried to touch her when a hand reached through the curtain, and grabbed her. Screams pierced my ears.
Overwhelmed by fear; the room became bitterly cold, and dark, only the light from the hall shone in. My heart raced as I walked to the bed, my body covered in a sticky substance. The taste of salty tears streaked my face. I looked around in horror. A thickness in my throat consumed my air.
Where did the little girl go?
Wetness soaked my feet. I looked down as the man’s dead body stared up at me. A scent of rotted flesh filled my nostrils. I covered my mouth and nose with my hand as my stomach turned. I wanted to vomit.
A long silent scream came from within as I looked around at the blood spotted walls and felt trapped in a nightmare of darkness.