The Watchers

This is a little blurb I wrote a few months back based (a little tiny bit) on a dream I have had a few times.  Probably the result of an overactive imagination… It's been an idea in my head for sometime now I plan on turning this into a full short story or novel one day.

It was going to be one of those nights, she could tell. Normally, she was out the moment her head hit the pillow but every once in a while she’d have a night like this. Same routine, different day; her mind triggered thoughts off a million miles per hour. Did I lock the back door? What was happening at work? Don’t look at the clock. Dammit. She looked at the clock. Another half hour of endless self-torture had gone by. The more she told herself not to worry about the time the more she did, of course.

Just relax. She told herself. She cleared her mind and focused on the open field. It was a field her mother described to her as a child when the nightmares first started.

“Imagine a beautiful open field.” Her mother would say to her as she brushed back her daughter’s sweaty bangs. “Wildflowers as far as you could see. Blue and orange and purple and red. Isn’t it lovely? Don’t you want to go there?” Her mother would ask and the little girl would nod with closed eyes.

“You can go and play in there but first you have to stop by the Worry Tree.” Here the young girl would imagine a glorious oak tree, stretching up further then she could even see. Dangling throughout the tree’s sturdy branches were softly glowing clusters of words.

“Now think of what’s worrying you and pull it from your mind. Worries are not allowed in the garden.” The mother whispered.

The little girl thought of the bully at school or the homework she didn’t understand or the glass she broke that her dad would soon find out about. She focused on those things and as she did she pulled them out of her mind like strings and draped them on the tree.

“Are all your worries gone?” The little girl nodded and her mother continued. “Good, now you can go in.”

The little girl felt herself running through the soft grass as warm wind blew her hair all around.

The mother would go on to describe the open space in such grand detail but the child already drifted off to sleep.

Now as the young woman, who was the age her mother was when she told the stories, tossed and turned she thought of the Worry Tree and pulled all the threads of anxiety that kept her wandering mind from dreamland. And every thread she pulled – work, her health, her future – her mind slipped deeper down and her body relaxed. As though those threads of worry tied her down to earth. Soon she reached the point where she was still felt awake but teetered on the brink.

Her eyes peeked open one last time, checking to be sure she was in fact in her bed and not wandering through her secret field.

That’s when she saw him again.

This time he was in the doorway, instead of hovering above her. He still wore the same suit, that much she could tell. But the faint light from the hall behind him obscured her view of his face. In an odd way she wasn’t scared to see him, as though she had been waiting for him to return.

Realization that there was a stranger in her room boiled to the surface of her waking mind and she screamed.

“What is it?” Her boyfriend in a voice heavy with sleep asked her.

She didn’t tell him the truth. There were many reasons, mostly because the man was gone as he always was when she looked back. Also, they had only been dating a few months and she wasn’t ready to unleash all her crazy on him.

Her heart pounded so hard she saw it beat through her shirt, so did her boyfriend as he slid a hand to her chest.

“Another bad dream?”

He knew about the nightmares, she couldn’t hide those.

“I’m fine. I’m sorry I woke you up.” The weight of his hand on her chest suffocated her. His body was pressed so tight against hers everywhere they met was slick with sweat. She was trapped under him, a loving gesture mutated into a human prison.

She was close to screaming “get off me!” when he replied, “Don’t worry about, I gotta pee anyway.”

He moved away from her and she found her breath. Kicking back the sheets, she let the cool night air prickle her skin.

She looked back to the empty doorway, feeling something she couldn’t place. She put her own hand on her chest and felt the accelerated tempo until it returned to normal.

She hoped the man wasn’t bothered by the stranger in her bed.