Read Don't Wake Me if I'm Dreaming Online
Authors: J. E. Chaney
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Suspense, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense
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No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and events are the work of the author’s imagination.
Any resemblance to real persons, places, or events is coincidental.
Solstice Publishing -
Copyright 2016 J.E. Chaney
Don’t Wake Me If I’m Dreaming
To my little ladies may only your best dreams come true and to my family for having faith in my dreams.
remember her well, my beautiful mother, Eloise Elizabeth O’Callaghan, or as her friends knew her, Ella. I remember she’d soak in our claw-foot tub reading Harlequin novels until her feet shriveled like prunes. She was smart, graceful, talented, and kinder than any woman I’d ever known. Her death was sudden, tragic to all that knew and loved her.
Before her passing, my mom left me with three gifts. The first was just over twenty-four years ago, her favorite German aunt’s name, Ivanna Elise Sasha Diotrephes. As luck would have it, she spared me the mouthful with only the second and third of my great aunt’s names, although, not in that order: Sasha Elise. The second gift was the ability to play the piano. Mom was a brilliant pianist. She played as though the melodies emanated from her fingers. I would be lying to say I inherited her same level of aptitude, but what talent she passed was worthy of a failed live audition into Julliard. And finally, the third and only unfavorable gift; my mom passed on the inability of a good night’s rest and what was said to have resulted in her death.
My mom committed suicide when I was nine, leaving my dad, Doug, to harbor the responsibility of my brother, Samuel, and me. Mom was driven to a secret life of insanity that went untreated far too long. Only one person ever knew her secret, her aunt Ivanna, who swore never to tell a soul, including my dad.
Before Ivanna passed, she broke the promise she made to my mom. She explained to me that my mom had lucid and prophetic dreams experiencing the same hell each night in her sleep. She elaborated on the shocking details of mom’s nightly torture, and at first, it was inconceivable to consider believing her, or anything so completely fictitious. But the pain in my aunt’s eyes and voice told an irrefutable truth. Traumatized by this information, my subconscious deeply concealed it until my adult years, when my sanity was challenged by similar dreams. Reluctant to share this with anyone, I too began experiencing a sort of mental anguish. Like my mom, I hid it the best I could, in fear of proclaiming what would appear as insanity to others.
While most people seldom dreamed of the same thing twice, I seemed to struggle with escaping the same dream for days or even weeks at a time. Even worse, it wasn’t just one dream I was trapped in, but sometimes two or even three each night, always returning there until completing or resolving the purpose of the dream, only to move on to a new series. The dreams weren’t always bad, some even pleasant, or desirable. Regardless, it was a lot to swallow and often left me fearing slumber and suffering from severe sleep deprivation.
I woke this morning on day four of the same intense chronicle, trapped in a forest, and tried decrypting the reason for having the dream. Upon waking, I remembered it vividly; the air, the scent of trees, the natural sounds of a lively woodland, the details were as if I had just read it in a book. And as if that wasn’t enough to grasp, prior to that dream, I had an even more unfavorable dream. I was driving a car and wrecked, waking me at the point where I’m pretty sure I died.
sat on my bed with wet polished toes, reading an article in a gossip column about the best ways to release deeply seeded emotions. Sex obviously topped the list followed by a girl’s night on the town with the besties. It was the third suggestion that piqued my interest. ‘Try typing it out. Doing this may surprisingly release and lower anxiety and stress levels,’ I read. “Psssh, right, as if a keyboard could fix my problems!” I mumbled, but couldn’t resist a glance at my laptop. The further into the article I read, the more I contemplated the idea. After spending the first eight hours of my day in front of a computer creating headlines at work, the idea quickly lost appeal for a moment.
I decided to use a less conventional approach to this newfound method of release. I sprang from bed and awkwardly sauntered with spread toes into the studio room closet. I rummaged through a box of old college supplies and found a yellow tablet of paper and a gel pen and returned to my bed. I made myself comfortable, then began writing about my current mental state, but felt no release. I wrote about the dream related frustrations I’d been experiencing for a time, ripped away the page, and started over. I repeated this until I realized the only release I felt was from the constructing tantrum of ripping and wadding paper in frustration. I sat in thought, using my pen to flick the wads across the room until I decided to write about the source of my misery, my dreams. Surprisingly the article proved right as if telling a close confidant my secrets that were impossible for them to judge. I wrote only about the most recent dreams with every detail I remembered.
The forest dream
I’ve had the same dream the past four nights. To be honest, this curse has followed me for a while, where my dreams are repetitive for a period, ending only to bring another chain of slumbered events. It wasn’t until recently I became in tune with my—gift, that my dreams grew more vivid and realistic. I can now remember the fine details of sounds, smells, tastes, and textures upon waking.
The past series of dreams are more annoying than anything, but the most recent of these recurring dreams is beyond unusual. When I enter the forest dream, I am aware I’m dreaming, and that doesn’t bother me so much. The fact I can’t wake myself terrifies me, and quite frankly, I was over the fear of being able to sleep.
The dream starts in an unfamiliar forest. When returning there the only changes are the events that occur, the forest remains untouched. I’ve also noticed I’m standing in the same place when entering the dream, on a dense cluster of twigs, pine needles, and trampled plants. I assume its springtime since it’s not yet humid, morning since the air is crisp and the sun’s low to the east, and I guess by the familiar natural surroundings of pine and thin brush I’m still in North Carolina or somewhere near. A few feet in front of me, I see a rock path surrounds the cove of an immense lake. A parallel reflection of a cloud slowly glides across the water’s stillness. An occasional ripple forms from what I assume is a fish feeding, faintly breaking the surface. The slightest scent of pine trees fills the air, cardinals whistle, and I hear the distant sound of a woodpecker vigorously drilling at a tree. My surroundings are picturesque but faded and surreal almost like a saturated pastel painting.
From where I stand, I see above in the soaring trees the sunlight shining through the branches, displaying a gleam of light on the droplets of dew occupying a web. A spider spins its prey, pauses only a few seconds, noticing my presence. My distaste of arachnids forces my feet to scurry, rushing me from the spot each time onto the trail a few feet away. I’m not sure where I’m heading, but instinctively I move in the same direction as if I know exactly where I’m going.
Continuing along the path, I see a young boy a short distance ahead. I’ve yet to figure out his purpose, but he’s always standing there. Unsure of what he’s doing, I see well enough to know he is much too young to be doing it alone. The boy’s blue jeans look slightly worn with dirt spots. His blue and green T-shirt is not so bad, but his unkempt wavy blond hair makes me speculate he’s been here a couple of days, camping with family perhaps. I am unable to see his face as he stares into the water, and if I get too close to him, he abruptly disappears without a trace. I keep waking up at this point with a sense of uncertainty and confusion, not understanding the importance of this dream, or why I keep having it.
Prior to this dream, each night, another random dream may occur, or this dream may lead to another series of unfavorable events. But each night, for the last four nights, at some point, I reluctantly find my way back in the forest.
The car accident dream
Another dream that’s haunted me for a few days involves an accident. After rushing to get ready for work, I run out of the house with a Red-Bull in one hand, a few papers in the other, and my shoulder supporting a cellphone to my ear. I think it’s my boss on the line, but oddly, I don’t recognize his voice. I remember thinking attempting the fifteen-minute commute from my apartment to the other side of downtown Charlotte, within five minutes, was certainly not going to be my brightest idea. I also remember having the feeling of exhaustion, as if I hadn’t slept for a sufficient amount of time. Of course, during the drive, nearly every light turns red and almost every turn I yield to pedestrians rushing to work. I reach for the unopened can of Red-Bull on the passenger seat and realize it rolled onto the floorboard. Without thinking, I unbuckle and reach down for it. That’s the last thing I remember about that drive, other than being hit, twice. The driver side receives the first impact and a second later, there’s a blow to the rear passenger side. That’s when I awake, unsure if I survived.
was a little unnerved writing the last part. Gripping the pen exceptionally tight, I remembered how horrifying and realistic the fear alone felt. It was rather frustrating that something so frivolous could intrude upon my life to the point of fearing sleep. I now had less than eight hours until I had to be confined to my little cubicle at the local newspaper press, but sleep was the furthest thing from my mind. I placed the tablet and pen inside my nightstand, then leaped from bed, and closed up my loft apartment for the night.
My dwelling was nothing elaborate. An office space atop a refurbished warehouse in the old industrial district now converted into a single loft with old wood floors, brick walls, and sash windows with white chipped painted sills. I wasn’t one to fuss over furnishing and décor, as I was content with the style, or lack of. The place was adorned with mismatched Colonial and rustic type furniture collected from yard sales and curbside findings with a few pieces of my mom’s furniture my dad had stored for me. The apartment space had a central living area, a decent sized kitchen, a small bathroom, and two bedrooms with large closets. The spare room stored an ebony Steinway grand piano and Merriweather desk that belonged to my mom. I intended to use the room as a dance studio and had mirrors and Ballet Barres mounted to the walls, but seldom used the area for more than yoga or storage. I hadn’t attempted to hang any art on the brick walls, and if it weren’t for a large wooden bookcase holding a few hundred books in the living area, the place would likely echo.
Six hours of mere restlessness later, after returning to the forest, and reliving the car accident to reveal no new developments, my phone rang waking me. I was disappointed by the sun of a new day shining on my face, as I lay groggy, with my arm uncomfortably under my head. “All right already,” I grumbled and rubbed my eyes, reaching for the phone, but by the fifth ring, the private number had hung up. “Who the hell calls this early?” I growled. A few seconds later, the annoying buzz of the alarm clock informed me I now had one hour to complete my methodic routine before rushing off to work.
I buried my face in a pillow, rejecting the idea of getting up. After a pitiful moment of groaning, I clambered from bed and began my routine; coffee, shower, quick fresh up, makeup, hair, and then to my closet for ten minutes of turning every hanger searching for the right outfit and heels before rushing out the door with a breakfast bar and leftovers for lunch.
Driving to work, I was thinking about the car accident dream and kept my eyes alert to the road. Although I can’t recall surviving or dying in the dream, it seemed less fearful in comparison to the forest saga with the little boy. I grimaced at the thought of having another hellish night where I’d likely be trapped in the same dreams again. Needing a severe mental distraction, I turned the radio on and belted along with the music, but it was only a few minutes later before my wandering mind was suffocated in thoughts of the little boy and his significance in the forest dream.
Avoiding the writer’s gossip coalition in the break room, loading up on their morning coffee and stale croissants, I discreetly snuck into my cubicle. Neither socializing nor this morning’s news was top of the priority list. Instead, I was on a personal mission. I did a web search for the words: repetitive dreams but found nothing useful. I needed to be more specific: why do people have repetitive dreams? I tried: recurring or lucid dreams and the same dreams again and again all the
Excluding the last entry, which gave an auto-corrective suggestion, I found answers to all, but none provided a logical explanation for my dreams. I read that during an eight-hour slumber, the average person only has a few dreams lasting no longer than twenty minutes.
As if I ever have eight hours of sleep
. I also read that recurring dreams are a particular part of the person’s conscience trying to send the brain a message. “What in the Sam Hill kind of message am I trying to send myself? I like being scared, lost, and possibly dying?” I laughed scornfully as the thought slipped from my mouth.
“Zombie laughter?” Martha Velasquez’s voice carried over the partition wall.
“Just talking to myself again,” I mumbled, logging into my work account.
I rolled my chair to the edge of the partition wall and poked my head on her side of the cubicle. “Do you ever have repetitive dreams or nightmares? Like you know, dreaming about the same thing every night?”
She pulled her reading glasses away her plump face and glanced at me. “Like as in Freddy Krueger haunting my sleep the better half of nineteen eighty-four, or the nightmares triggered from Michael Jackson’s Thriller?”
“Not…not exactly.” I chewed my nail thinking of how I could rephrase the question.
“Well, there goes years of therapy over nothing trying to forget about them.” She sat up straight, fixing her glasses. “I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast let alone my dreams.” She continued reviewing a paper.
I stared at her blankly waiting for a further response. “Well, you’re no help.” I rolled back to my desk. I didn’t bother to question the inaudible mumble that followed me from her mouth.
Martha and I shared an amicable relationship. She was one of those people with awkward social satire. Most loathed her dry sense of humor and sardonic, witty tongue. I, however, found it amusing, especially when hearing her one-sided, comical squabbles with her husband, Riccardo. I nearly had to asphyxiate myself with a scarf to keep from laughing when she threatened to have him deported to Mexico even though he was a fourth generation, American-born Spaniard.
Despite Martha being twenty plus years my age, she made cubicle life or the
as she called them a bearable place to inhabit during work. Excluding five days nearing the end of each month, in which case it was best to either bring her dark chocolate and sweet tea, or avoid her altogether.
he rest of the workday drug along at a snail’s pace, but I met my deadline and prepared for the following workday. My
boyfriend, Matthew Stephens, sent me a few text messages, informing me he missed me and could hardly wait to see me when we could find the time. My lips twitched a little, looking at the picture of him on my desk. His baby face wore an adorable smile and his beautiful brown eyes matched the tousled hair falling from under his favorite baseball cap. We met nine and a half months ago at the University of North Carolina Tar Heels baseball game, which he happened to play for a couple years prior and coincidently was the same college from where I graduated. I didn’t know him at that time, but I had watched him pitch at several home games and knew his face. As fate would have it, years later we sat next to each other during a game. He desperately flirted with me, and I wasn’t about to resist the opportunity for much needed, and completely invited attention. We shared an instant and ample attraction. I considered him an impressive catch, but unfortunately, we’d go days without seeing each other. Between his time at the fire department, and working for his dad’s construction company, me at my office working random and long hours, and life, in general, we were lucky to see each other twice a week. On a positive note, the distance kept the zest between us very much alive.
Almost the moment I walked through the apartment door after work, I grabbed my laptop and continued my search of dreams. I found some relevant information, but nothing satisfying. More than anything, I wanted to know what caused them and how to make them go away. I stumbled over a passage during my search. ‘When eyes close to rest, the vulnerable mind enters a world of the unknown. It is a private and sacred place. It dreams of those time has lost, those who have left, and those desired most. Much of the encountered is often too discomforting to share, or too indescribable to explain. There, contrition, healing, new beginnings, and adventures beyond the extraordinary are found. Sometimes, it is also the ending of a long road leading to a door that longingly needed closing.