Family Life, Life Adventures, Poetry, Tales of Imagination

Whose Nightmare is This?

I woke from the stabbing pain of shingles. I drearily tilted my neck to see the bottle of aspirin on the table.  With large red numbers, the alarm clocked said 1:11AM. The date glowed with equally beautiful symmetry-  2/2/22.  I had taken two pills before I went to bed.  I suppose one more wouldn’t hurt.  Carmen was snuggled close. 

Many hours later, or so it seemed, it sounded like Carmen was chanting incoherently.  I realized she was having a bad dream.  I felt sweat trickle down my underarm but I knew that was just an illusion from my sickness.  (Shingles is a virus that silently lurks in one’s body after having chickenpox. When it attacks it shows no compassion for the nervous system of its victims.)

Carmen mumbled again, I could tell she was horrified about something.

“Wake up, little girl,” I tried to say.  Then I realized I had never uttered that phrase in my life.  It comes from a Bible story of Jesus trying to convince a crowd that a child was not dead but only sleeping.

“Wake-up, Carmen.” I tried again, not sure if the words were actually coming out of my mouth. I shoved her gently. “Little girl!”

As my words became audible I awakened in the dark room.  I realized it was not Carmen’s nightmare.  It was mine!  Carmen was sleeping peacefully as I paused to slow my racing heart.  She squirmed, grunted, and pulled the sheet tighter around her torso.  Thank goodness I didn’t wake her and have to explain why I called her a ‘little girl.’  How embarrassing that I was trying to be a hero but in real life I was rudely disturbing her slumber.  

Little Grizzly was swirled and snoring contently on the corner of the bed.   Santa Ana winds howled eerily as tree branches tapped the windows. I checked my forehead for fever.  It felt cool. 

The red numbers now said 2:22AM.  Only slightly more than an hour had passed.  The shingles continued to poke with tiny needles.  I was thankful they were never excruciating, as some people experience.  It’s more like a knife jab, but the enemy is merciful enough to refrain from twisting it inside the flesh. 

I turned to see the bottle of emergency pills. No more drugs or alcohol for me, thank you. I had enough of that when I was a reckless teenager.  My poor mother.  I lay awake and pretended to be comfortable. 

The disease convinced me I was laying on shards of glass.  I would not be fooled.  I knew the sheets were smooth and cool to the touch.  Now it was transforming into a burning itch.  And it was coming from that one small patch in the center of one’s back that no human has ever reached.  It is strange how discomfort is transported into our dreams, like when we have to pee.

I curled into a fetal position.  For now I was protected.  I stared at the red-numbered clock, wondering what would happen at 3:33AM.  Perhaps a zafcat would lunge at my back with its saber-like claws.  Or worse yet, a dragon might kill me. 

Carmen looked peaceful.  I was happy.  In a few hours the morning sun would peek through the curtains.  Just a few more hours and I would be safe. 

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