To Dream, Perchance to Sleep

I don’t dream.

But tonight, I bolted upright and shouted “No,” drenched in sweat, heart pounding, shaking like I had fever chills. I had a nightmare and I couldn’t remember a thing about it.

My wife, Cody, popped up, too, frightened by my reaction to my hazy nightmare. She switched on the bedside light.

“What is it, Rich? Are you all right?” Cody said, placing a shaking hand on my arm.

“I think so. I don’t know what happened. I think it was a dream, I guess a nightmare,” I said, still pumped and confused.

“What was it about?”

“I don’t know. I honestly can’t remember.”

“Will you be all right?”

“Yeah, I’ll be okay. I’m gonna go get a glass go water and calm down. You go back to sleep. I’ll be back in a little while,” told Cody.

“Okay, Rich. You sure you’re all right?”

“Yep, fine. Get some sleep, okay?”

Cody turned out the light, rolled over and pulled the covers back atop her shoulders. I headed to the kitchen, grabbed a drink and ran the faucet on a dish towel, wrung out the cold water and put it over my eyes after I parked myself in my desk chair.

What had scared me so much? Did it really matter now?

I wasn’t fearless in the blank darkness of the hood it places over me, of its smothering dark hand. Darkness had always been my friend, my forever bedmate.

Always, the dreamless monster steals my night, robbing me of sense and senses, sending me to stagger through another day hating the Sun for dropping from its apogee, a golden chanticleer crowing the dawn of another dread sundown.

My every-night nightmare had become a killer of men, of knowledge, of thought. It hid in the darkness of my slumber, the destroyer of light, color, joy. It had come to affect my work as a writer. I’d come up dry on my last two manuscript attempts. Publishers don’t like contracted novelists who don’t provide them books to sell. I hated what I’d become, too.

This nightmare is a dreamless night that tears at the dreams of my day. I pulled the compress and stared into the darkness, wondering why I even bother to close my eyes anymore.

Each evening I climb under the covers, fluff my pillows, kiss Cody good night and lay my head on the pillows in hope for what everyone else slept like. Instead, I blink once and night becomes day.

My weak flesh craved to have its raveled sleeve mended, even knowing my true nightmare monster of dreamlessness rips away the threads, stealing all my hope of a healing night’s sleep. It had driven me mad, no doubt.

And here tonight I had a dream, one so vivid, frightening me so much that it woke me in a state of breathless terror. And I couldn’t remember it. A fruitless fright, another empty night.

So I decided to kill off my dreamless monster by killing off the sleeper. No great loss. What good is a writer who cannot dream? It would be my ultimate creation. An anti-creation.

I sat and wrote it all out for myself, for you, a 600-word bit of flash fiction——or non-fiction, I couldn’t tell anymore——of a man finally achieving his dream. I started to write my note to Cody. But I stopped when I realized she’d left me a year ago. She couldn’t take my depression, my walking-dead wandering through life, my violent outbursts because I didn’t understand awake, asleep or in between.

Then I took all the pills.

Here it is, my first and final dream, a lyrical piece of sweet release. My good night after all.

Day 14’s effort in my Story-a-Day quest through May. Today’s prompt, from novelist Maria Hazen Lewis, was devilishly simple, but gave me fits. Here it is: 

I had a nightmare last night. I woke up and started writing….

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