“Sweet Dreams” Pt. 1

A curled hand peaking out from under gray bed sheets in a beam of sunlight shaped in a rectangular pattern. The surrounding bed sheets are dark.

Sleep is one of my favorite things in life. I love the warmth of my bed, the weight of blankets burying me, being in complete relaxation, and dreaming. Sleep is one of the most peaceful things in life — until it isn’t.  Your dreams can determine whether your sleep is peaceful or tourchering.  I personally dream every night. I mostly experience good dreams, but every once in a while I get a streak of nightmares. I don’t know why, but when I have one nightmare, I usually have nightmares the rest of the week, hence the term “streak”. I’ve had plenty of bad weeks, but the one streak, which I’m about to recount, takes the cake.

The nightmare that started off my worst streak seemed typical. It was that odd time of night, where it isn’t light out, yet, not completely dark either…The time of dusk where the sky is purple fading into dark blue, and everything has a clear black silhouette. I was in my kitchen, facing the window, preparing food in the dim light; my back door loomed about 20 feet to my left, exposing my neighbor’s house through its window. As I was making food, my stomach dropped, and the hair on my neck stood up with a tingling sensation. I could feel someone, or something, watching me closely. I forced myself to remain calm. I saw out of my peripheral vision, a man on the other side of the fence, wearing a ski mask with only eye holes cut out.  All I could see were his eyes, barely above the fence line, staring at me. My movements tensed for a millisecond, nothing that a typical person would notice, but it was enough. I immediately felt his stare intensify. I continued my natural pace and movements, while creating an opportunity for me to lock the door. I decided I’d act as if I needed something from the pantry, which stood inches from the back door. Once I was close enough, I’d lock the door.  Still seeing him in my peripheral view, I put my plan in motion. I turned naturally toward the door, only to find him no longer on the other side of the fence, but on mine. Our eyes locked. I instantly darted to the door, he did the same, just barely reaching it before him. Our faces were inches apart — only separated by a sheet of glass. This is where the dream went from typical to horrifying.  He stood on the other side of the glass staring down at me. I could see nothing but his eyes, which were locked with mine. His stare provoked a feeling I’ve never experienced before; it was a feeling that stabbed into my chest. I felt a deep fear, mixed with an immense amount of anxiety, that seemed to suck the air out of my lungs and close my windpipe. The feeling sat in both my stomach and my throat, seeming to weigh an unnatural amount. I was not human to him. I wouldn’t even say I was prey to him. I meant nothing to him, yet he was trying to learn my behavior. He stood as still as a corpse while numbly looking into my soul. He was reading me: my thoughts, my micro movements, my breathing rhythm, and most of all, my fear. He suddenly broke eye contact and redirected his icy gaze directly behind me. My ragged breathing stopped. My stomach hit the floor. I knew exactly what he was looking at— my open window. He darted around the house, out of my view, and that’s when I woke up. Immediately, I got out of bed, locked my window, and told myself to laugh it off. However, the feeling of deep fear lingered even after reassuring myself.