The Nightmare

After a few good, calm weeks, this morning I woke up with that familiar feeling in my chest. The anxiety is back. Maybe it’s because of the nightmare.

It was one of those ones that wakes you up and sits there with you, daring you to try to close your eyes again. You won’t like what you find, it says. You won’t, but I will. Nightmares like that just leer at you from their ephemeral hiding spots, somewhere between dream and waking, like the nearly invisible monsters that creep into their corners when you flip the light switch in the closet, or go searching under the bed for that box of sweaters from last winter.

My nightmare made no sense. It wasn’t even scary. But it did its job. I awoke with dread, and it’s grown throughout the day. Now that it’s time for bed again, I find myself near tears. Of course, it’s Sunday, and Monday morning fills me with much the same sense of dread, so it could just be the work week that makes me hate Sunday nights. Who knows?

I dreamt of elevators going up, and escalators going down. There was a painted owl, stolen from a thrift shop. Decrepit old ladies in kimonos danced their way through some odd version of a tea ceremony on the sidewalk of my dream city, spitting hot tea like fire breathers. A man kept a house of feral cats, supported on the donations of passersby. I brought them a giant bag of food, and some litter. For $28, I could have my fortune told, but the woman I visited was trapped in a hospital bed, a sheeted corpse in a wheelchair to her left. She said I had no future, that it was invisible through a wall of gray smoke. I thought that she wanted to kill me, to steal my soul. So I woke myself up and lay there in the bright light of early afternoon, heart pounding, stomach churning.

There’s so much to accomplish tomorrow, but I can’t remember any of my tasks. They’re all a jumble, swooping through my head, crowding the space around my heart. The dread hangs on. I’ve taken a couple of sleeping pills, just so I can relax enough to get past this and get a little shuteye. I should probably close the laptop so my brain can start to power down away from the backlighting. But I can’t handle the darkness tonight.

I need someone to hold my hand and tell me it’s all going to be alright. I don’t think it is. I try to peer into my own future, and there’s nothing but that smoke.

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