She sits on the edge of her stained periwinkle blue sofa. Not understanding the pictures her mind has shown her when she tried to sleep. Scared to close her eyes. The world inside her head is almost as frightening as the world she awakes to. Sometimes those dreams play out nice. They tell her of adventures near the ocean. They prepare her for change because she has memorized what the colors of the water meant over twenty years ago.
A dark, black enraged sea means trouble is coming. The worst trouble. Heartbreaking death is on the horizon.
A crystal blue calm sea means prosperity in life. Very little trouble will come to her.
Mucky, brown, hard to swim through water tells her will have to overcome obstacles. But she will get through them.
Then there is the place she sees, the end. So many endings are kept in her head. She’s seen the war and remembers fear as she hid from invaders. The cafe where allies met to plan routes around troops. When she left the rendezvous point, the world looked on fire. Smoke plumes rose around her and giant black stacks reached almost to heaven. She hunched behind a tree and wondered internally, is there even a God watching this destruction?
These are the times she is constantly running, hiding, and trying to find a safe place. This is more than anxiety. This is real. People captured and executed. Tortured. Her friends, her neighbors, and her family know to stay on the back roads near the river. The enemies won’t know these routes. Not like she knows them. Because these are her people and this is their home.
Apocalyptic endings are only a matter of survival. Almost all her dreams end virtually the same way. Death. Natural disasters cause water to swell far over land masses. She finds a safe place and a few people join her in an abandoned storage shed. But then more people want in. These people come with demands for women, and food, and the threat of real violence. She knows she’ll be next to be raped or killed. She makes her own life and death decision as she drives away. The vehicle careens directly into the raging waters and she finds a more peaceful way to die. Little pieces of life are floating around her.
She comes back to the world after seeing these horrors and feeling death and her head spins trying to find some meaning in between the real and the dreams. Trying to find a balance in forgetting as she says, it was just a dream. It’s not real. They are just dreams.
Sometimes it takes her days to calibrate her body and mind back to normal. To fine tune her body into understanding and to finally shake off the realness. She goes about living as if she hasn’t seen these things. For some of these images, she’s never been able to release. They are her worst nightmares. She remembers the death. Each time. She can smell the burning flesh and trees in her home.
Nightmares are all too real.
People are always asking, “Do you ever sleep?”
The girl tells them, “It hurts to shut my eyes. I don’t want to see these things.”
Minimal sleep is what she allows each night. Little fragments is all she can stand to see. There is no rest for the wicked. Or the insane. Or the holder of things most people will never see. Sleep is an enemy. It haunts her. It taunts her eyes into wanting to close.
She never knows if allowing sleep to come will be a good night or another spent trying to understand how we allowed our world to get to this. Then she gets up out of bed, starts her coffee and turns on the news, and little by little… she sees a scrap more to understand.
We are an ignorant, self indulged, mass consuming, all-knowing, uneducated greedy space in the universe. Slipping farther to destruction. The compassionate are few. The vultures are plentiful.
And she is scared to close her eyes, for one day her dreams could be her waking world.
**This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Rachel E. Bledsoe is a writer and an Appalachian Misfit Mama. She enjoys swimming, long walks on the beach, and Marie Antoinette biographies. She is the sole voice and writer behind The Misfits of a Mountain Mama. You can visit her on Facebook or on Twitter @MisfitMtMama.