It was a nice enough dream until it wasn’t. I don’t remember the rest of it, but it was uneventful and nostalgic. I was at the middle school I went to for eighth grade and, as usual, my dad was picking me up from school. But he seemed uneasy, in a way he’d never expressed uneasiness in real life. “But don’t you remember?” he asked now and then as we walked from what should’ve been ten feet from the school’s front door to said front door, but we walked a long while. Very bright white light. “But don’t you remember?” every few steps.
But I didn’t. Something about him was off though, fading. Kind of grayscale and dark and blurred. “What don’t I remember?” I asked.
“I’m dead,” he reminded me. At once, I did remember. He morphed into his corpse, or perhaps he had been that the whole time, the way you abruptly notice someone is their actual ten day old corpse in a dream.
And because I abruptly noticed that, I abruptly noticed that this had to be a dream, a nightmare. I wanted to wake up. So I screamed. As loud as I could. But the sound was only in the dream. I could feel my vocal cords tremor and fail again and again and I don’t know if it was real or not. I screamed again and again and again. Wordless. No. Please. It would wake me up if I screamed in real life. It would wake Kate, who would wake me. Trying. Montage. Screaming, screaming, screaming.
Bolting upright in silence. Heart pounding, gasping, sick, shaking, sweat dripping down my skin, but silent. Kate barely stirring next to me. A cat looking up curiously, but mostly sleepy.
I’m still awake as the sun rises outside the windows, but there’s something comforting about a bit of light as I finally manage to doze again. The next night, I avoid sleep even as I get tired.