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Nightmares and Nightshirts
Nightmares and Nightshirts
Run Jade, you’re a softball star for Christ’s sake! My arms pumped at my sides, my heart drummed an unholy beat in my chest. I willed my legs to push, faster and faster, away from the impending shadow. My head twisted from side to side, searching for anything to hide behind. A rock, a tree, something! But nothing. There was nothing at all.
It was a barren waste land. Nothing but sand rolling across the ground. Ground I couldn’t even begin to describe because it was as if it wasn’t there. I was standing on something that could support my weight, but the sand was hard underfoot, like I was racing across a giant slab of granite. I wasn’t even positive it was sand! It was like this place had no beginning, no end, no right and wrong or up and down, no physics or logic that would ever make this nightmarish land make sense.
I slowed. I couldn’t run anymore, not another step. My legs were a burning inferno, straight out of Hell, shaking under my weight.
The Thing behind me laughed, a dark, deep bellow. Hands snatched at my back as I tried to fight, tried to get away, but I failed. Time and time again, I failed. I messed up. I had the wrong answer or information. I failed. As usual.
Laughing erupted behind me, men, women, and children, and though they didn’t say a word, only laughed, I knew why they were cackling.
I was a screw up, a failure, a stupid kid that couldn’t do anything right. How would anyone love me, care for me, accept me for me? They wouldn’t.
My own shattering scream woke me from my nightmare, along with my boyfriend, Aaron. His strong arms were wrapped around me in a second, his hand running up and down my cami-clad back, trying to soothe the shaking and sobbing that was inevitable.
My head tucked under Aaron’s chin and legs in his lap I sat, sobbing, crying my eyes out. My only comfort, my one true comfort has been this little ‘Aaron-fortress,’ for nearly three years now. His minty scent, his radiant warmth, they both rolled off him in overwhelming waves that usually calmed me within a couple minutes of my nightmares. But not tonight.
My fists curled around his shirt where his abs were, pulling myself closer to him, afraid to loose him.
“Shh, shh, it’s OK kid. Nothing’s going to hurt you love, I promise,” he cooed into my ear, kissing it when he was done. Aaron kissed me temple, my forehead, and my nose before putting my head back under his jaw, his hands saving me from whatever horrors my mind could conjure up.
I opened my eyes for a fraction of a second before shutting them again. The dark was everywhere, surrounding me, seemingly choking me. I felt like I was being suffocated, smothered by its blackness that I couldn’t escape, all too similar and all too nightmarish, all too soon.
“Ni-night light,” I choked out, sniffling. Aaron’s hand left my body for all of a second to flip the switch on, something he jerry-rigged himself so that all four of my night lights turned on, pushing back the darkness with a furious, lightning- quick snarl.
“You’re OK kid. I’m here, nothing’s going to hurt you,” he said again. I was shivering, shaking like a leaf in part from the dream, but also because I was freezing. Goosebumps raised on my arms just thinking about it.
“I’m c-cold, Aaron,” I whispered, teeth chattering, invisible winds blowing on my tear tracks. He rubbed my back once more before gently laying us down, covering me with our plush quilt, holding me close.
My legs intertwined with his sweat pants, me fists with his shirt, near the brink of flat out sobbing again. How much longer would I have to deal with these nightmares!? How much longer until I just go crazy, banging my head against a padded wall?
Aaron softly put his hand under my chin, lifting my eyes toward his. My eyes were rimmed with tears again, my hair askew, my face just an overall mess. And he kissed me. It was long, but still gentle and subtle, and his point was clear; I love you.
“The MRI results should be here soon, Jade,” Aaron whispered. “Today or tomorrow at the latest,” he reassured me. I gulped, nodding, before relaxing my hands. Today or tomorrow, I thought. I could manage until then. I’ve done it before, haven’t I?
I laid my head down on the pillow, taking deep breaths. Aaron watched me, unwrapping his arms from me and lying next to me, like a well-trained soldier, ready at a moment’s notice.
I snuggled up to Aaron, being as close to him as humanly possible. He gave me an encouraging smile, one that I couldn’t return.
His smile faltered for just a second, before he stripped off his T-shirt and guided it over my cami, enveloping me in his calming, soothing scent.
“Now sleep.” He whispered. He even combed out my hair, a trick he’d picked up on a long road trip. But I knew he noticed my hand, that seemed to have a mind of it’s own, as it stroked the black silk sheets, the plush quilt, even Aaron’s shirt that went down to my thighs.
Aaron knew what I was subconsciously looking for.
“Looking for something?” He dangled the tattered, abused teddy bear in front of my face. Even though I knew he knew about it, I blushed furiously, and snatched it from his hand. He chuckled slightly as I tucked the bear under my arm, the one he’d given me for Valentine’s day years ago. I’d slept with the pathetic thing ever since. And believe me, I wasn’t proud of it.
“Be here when I wake up?” I whispered. He just smiled, like a dad would to his daughter.
“Always.” He whispered, kissing my forehead.