I was very young when I first watched Nightmare on Elm Street.
I was asleep in the room I shared with my younger sister when I woke up screaming from a nightmare. I always yelled for my mother, but she didn’t always come.
This time she showed up, fatigued etched in her face and she snuggled with me in my bed. Before I settled in her warmth, I searched the room and I heard my mother’s voice,
“Don’t look for him.”
I saw him anyway, illuminated in the shape of a tiny doll on the dresser. I fell sleep as fast as I could, my only defense mechanism, a prayer in my throat.
I woke up screaming again, he was pulling my feet, dragging me away from my family into his personal hell.
I opened my eyes and he was standing menacingly at the foot of my bed. I screamed so loud my father stumbled in and then he disappeared while I was left crying and flailing my arms.
Lately I haven’t been able to fall asleep without background noise. I’m still not used to the sounds this new house makes, as it shifts and settles into the foundation. The sirens in the distance, the music blaring from passing cars at all hours, or the occasional pop pop of gunshots. Plus the two cats who dart in and out of shadows, their eyes gleaming in the darkness.
I have all the makings of a real life horror story.
I tried sleeping with the television on and while it does lull me to sleep, I can’t stay asleep. I’ve had the fans on all summer but as it gets colder I need them less. In fact some mornings I wake up with a scratchy throat and I know the culprit but I need to sleep.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of changing positions and I see shadowy figures or inanimate objects that seem to be floating above my head. I blink, they disappear, and I close my eyes lest I see something else.
Sometimes when I’m feeling brave, I turn the light on and they are never there.
I have heard all the stories told by cousins, stories my unwilling ears were forced to listen to. I am vulnerable in the dark to my racing heart and my betraying mind.
I am not always sure what is real and what is created with my mind.