So, a few weeks back, my hubs went down to Salem to bid his farewells to his terminally ill stepmother, leaving me alone with the furbabies. Now, I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself for the most part, but I have a morbid fear of sleeping alone — especially in a house as big as ours. And we don’t have a particularly large house, but it’s too big for little ol’ me. If I had my druthers, we’d be living in something not much bigger than 800 square feet for the two of us. If it were just me, I’d happily live in something less than 400 square feet and call it too big. Hell, my 18′ motor home had too much space in it. What I’m saying is, I don’t like a lot of room in my home, especially at night. I’ve been that way since childhood, and no, I can’t pin it on anything. I just. don’t. like. big. houses. They’re creepy. Too many places for the boogie man to hide.
But, as I said, I’m a big girl, so I handled it the big girl way. I played Skyrim until I was too tired to concentrate, then I fell asleep on the couch. After making sure there were plenty of booby traps scattered about and that the alarm was turned on. And my phone was near me, as well as the panic button to the alarm system. Oh, and all of the doors that could be closed were closed. Seriously, the house is too big. I need less space when I’m alone or I panic.
So what does this have to do with dreams and nightmares (vis-à-vis the daily prompt)? I’m getting there! Don’t get ahead of the story! Well, I went online and vented a little about spending the night alone in a big house, because it’s one of my least favorite things to do, and my friends were giving me suggestions including the old standby of “leave the hallway light on”. Now, I never leave the hallway light on when I’m sleeping alone for a very particular reason, and I told them I would share that with them someday. And thanks to the daily prompt, which asks us to share our “worst nightmare” I will share that reason with you today. Yay?
Now, this isn’t my worst nightmare by a long shot, but it has stuck with me for many years, and it is the reason why I never sleep with the hallway light on, especially when I’m sleeping alone in a big house. Way back when I was eighteen, newly married and pregnant with my first child, I spent many a night alone because my new husband was in the Navy. Navy people, for those who don’t know, have to stand duty various nights a week. My memory of the schedule is vague, but I remember it being every six days or so. Anyway, that meant every six days or so, I was sleeping alone if he had the night watch, and I was okay with it because we had a small apartment above a garage in someone’s house. And I’d usually leave the light on because that’s what people do. Also, if he had the early night watch, sometimes his CPO would let him come home and having the light on made it easier for him to come to bed.
Now, one particular night, the first hubs had duty so I went to bed as I usually did when he had duty, way late after reading until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and after making sure all of the locks were engaged and the windows closed. I crawled into bed and tried to get some shut-eye. I must have dozed off because when I woke up, I saw demons coming out of the light in the hallway. Not the sexy demons of today’s paranormal literature, but demons of old… ghostly, ethereal, smoke-like. And they were pouring out of the light as if it were a portal, and spilling onto the floor. That wasn’t weird enough. Then I heard crying. Now, we didn’t have any kids, so there shouldn’t have been any crying in my house. But, because it was a dream and weird things happen in dreams, I got out of bed and waded through the demons until I got to the doorway of my living room. That’s when I saw the kid I babysat on a couch on the other side the room. I say a couch because it wasn’t my couch. My couch was blue and about six feet wide. This couch was green, more like a love seat and covered in laundry. I figured I was dreaming about this point (because the demons and sudden appearance of the kid weren’t dead giveaways). But I thought I’d see this dream through. Anyway, the kid was crying and holding her arms out to me, and I couldn’t reach her because of all of the demons on the floor, which were still coming out of the light in the hallway. They were piled up to my waist by that point in a writhing mass of smokey weirdness. I kept trying to push them aside with my feet (I was out to here pregnant, remember) but for being smoke-like, they were pretty substantial.
The demons weren’t hurting the little girl (I’ve long since forgotten her name, we’ll call her Veronica), just scaring her. They weren’t hurting me either other than keeping me from the girl, but I was a little weirded out nonetheless. They (the demons) kept swarming up my arms and legs and back down again, which was pretty spooky, and other than Veronica crying, I couldn’t hear anything else. It was kinda creepy. I woke myself up after a few minutes and didn’t get much in the way of sleep for the rest of the night. When I explained why I was so tired to Veronica’s mom over coffee the next morning, she looked at me like I’d grown a third head. (fictionalized version of a real conversation to follow)
“What time did you have your dream?” she asked.
“When I woke up it was about three.” said I.
“That’s so weird,” she said. “Because Veronica had a really bad dream last night about three o’clock. And she was sleeping on the couch last night.”
“Nuh-uh.” I’m nothing if not quick with the snappy comebacks.
“What color was the couch in your dream?”
“Green.” I said, “but it was more like a love seat.”
“I shit you not,” said the mom, “That is our couch. You and Veronica had the same dream. I’ll bet you money”
I thought about arguing with her, but shrugged my shoulders instead. “It could happen.”
And we talked of other things.
Did little Veronica and I share a nightmare? Who knows? All I know is that I don’t sleep with the lights on in other rooms anymore because of that night. Do I really believe that demons came out of the light and tried to separate me and little Veronica? Nah. Dreams are personifications our greatest wishes and our darkest fears. They are also our brain’s way of getting rid of the miscellaneous crap it doesn’t have time to process during the day. Which is why dreams are so disorienting and weird. I’ve already talked about my other theories about dreams, so I won’t go there again. But really, no one knows why we dream. Maybe it’s a good thing we do. In this instance though, I wish I hadn’t.