I remember my last nightmare vividly.

Not deeply deeply unpleasant dreams that wake you and leave you with a strange taste in the back of your brain all day.
I mean those dreams that leave you with a distinct, sharp fear, that pull you out of sleep because you’re so damn scared that you can’t sleep any more.
The ones that feel like a gasping scream and leave you with scattered, frantic mind and a rushing heartbeat.

I was 13.
As far as I remember, I had been dreaming normally when suddenly there was a cut to black.
A face appeared out of the nothing.
A white woman with pale corkscrew curls.
Corkboard eyes and smile.

That was all. I woke in a state of panic and sought the solace of my parents’ bed for the remainder of the night, with a frail whimper of “mom? dad? I had a nightmare….”

Since then, I’ve dreamt of murders and being murdered.
I’ve dreamt of missing flights and teaching classes that were complete and total disasters. Nothing has scared me like that corkscrew face.

Until last night.
Sometime between 1o.30pm and 11.30pm.

I was looking for a place to sleep
and had been offered a bed in a room
by a person I trusted.
As I lay under the blanket to sleep,
a passing acquaintance walked in the room.
Some alarm bell went off and I said
I was told, I could sleep here
I hope that’s okay
And he said
Something I couldn’t hear
And started pulling the blanket down
and tugging at my clothes
to take them off
and moving
my body

And I woke up. Terrified. With this slimy, cold feeling in my brain.
I wished, for a moment, that my parents were nearby so I could crawl into bed with them.
I wished that there was someone in bed with me already,
who could hold me the right way.

It’s funny how the things that scare us change over time.

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