Short Story: Can dreams have dreams?
“Can I tell you about my dream?”
A woman smiled, as she put her hand on her stomach, “Sure!”
The child ran to her mother, eyes glistening with tears. The woman’s body tensed, and her fingers twitched to move the child away from her. She bit the inside of her cheek, ignoring the blood pooling in her mouth. She wrapped her arms around the young child. Her throat throbbed a burning sensation forming. The sweet smell of peppermint slowly turning into burning ash.
“I was standing in the rain.”
The woman closed her eyes and held her child tighter. “What else?” she whispered, trying her best to ignore the sound of rain falling on the ground.
“There was a car and so much blood…”
She was standing in the rain, a hand on her belly. Her eyes wide as she opened her mouth to scream. She screamed relishing in the pain of her torn throat.
“Help him!” She screamed as she felt herself being pulled back.
“It’s not safe!”
She screamed while tears ran down her cheeks merging into the rain. She was pleading to any deity out there, that this was not happening.
She closed her eyes and tried to conjure the blanket of warmth from earlier. She had to get it back. It was not fair. She watched as white crystal balls dropped on the blackened earth. Was it trying to wash the stain? A hopeless goal, for there was nothing to wash the sickly matted clumps originating from her legs. She looked up at the sky, wishing for this to be a dream.
“And I was in so much pain!” screamed the little child. She hugged her tighter, trying to memorise the little bundle of warmth in her arms. She had to focus hard. She did not want to leave. She bit her tongue trying to overcome familiar nausea to stay where she was—her perfect life.
Red. White. Silver. Blue. Blue. Blue. Blue.
She was dancing, her feet no longer in her control. The warmth in her arms was replaced with cold emptiness and the stinging in the back of her throat simmers away signalling she was to stay here for a while. Her heart cried as she moved with music blaring in the background. Nonsense filled her ears and she was trying to embrace her partner with blue eyes, to feel something. Anything! The nonsense becomes clearer as she moves, and her throat tightens up as her ears are being dismantled slowly by the screeching of a thousand.
Blue was safe. Blue was safe.
Her throat aches as she screams for him. Nausea eating her up. She tried reaching him, but the seatbelt prevented that. She cried out as bones snapped, but blue was safe. Blue was safe.
Blue had to be safe!
She reached for his arm, his fingers sticky with congealing blood. She saw the spots in her vision as if her mind were a broken tv, full of cracks. She was cracking, throat burning as she was pulled away from the scene. She fought, she yelled, she begged, and she prayed.
It was too late.
Nausea came up again.
She stared into the cheap mirror. It wasn’t even glass. All she could tell from her reflection was that her green eyes gleamed as she blinked slowly with her hair messy around her. She supposed it could have happened when the police took her down, or maybe it was the nurses.
So hard to remember.
There was another car. It was speeding. Speeding so fast that they didn’t see it. She stared at the mirror. Cracks started to form as she saw blue eyes reflecting back. She moved her hand to her stomach.
There were three lives in that car.
She closed her eyes, while her throat burned, trying to conjure the images of yesterday. She bit her lip, wanting nothing more than to rip her burning throat out. Red. Blue. Yellow. White. Silver.
She opened her eyes to a world of white. A clean slate of emptiness mocking her for dreams that would never come. The white remained untouched no dots in her vision as an alarm started to ring in her head. It vibrated from her head, down to her missing stomach and to her frozen toes.
Her arms were feeling numb with her losing the feeling in her whole body. She wasn’t going to escape. How could she? Her whole body was paralysed. She could not move even if she wanted.
She froze at that moment. Her heart shattered to a million pieces as blood dropped from her leg and watched as paramedics closed their eyes in sorrow. She remembered they shook their heads calling for a time of death.
She started to laugh as the nurse held her down trying to inject her. Maybe she was crazy. Maybe none of this was real. Or it was real, and that accident was just her imagination?
She laughed as she remembered going into shock when the doctor told her about the second death that occurred that day.
Her throat burned as if someone was forcing a tube down it forcefully as she smiled at her child. Her hands no longer on fire from being restrained.
“Can dreams have dreams?”
The child tilted her head. Can dreams have dreams? She didn’t understand. Was her mummy even listening to her? She pouted, and her cheeks turned red as strawberries. “Did you listen to what I said?”
She blinked, looking at the little child. She swallowed the lump in her throat and flinched at how it burned. It was as if acid was poured down her throat. She closed her eyes breathing in the smell of peppermint and the sweet cocoa scent floating around her house.
She had to focus.
She opened her eyes and smiled at the child. “Of course, I was listening.”
The child crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. She giggled, doing her best to swallow the burning pit of poison in her throat. She had to focus. She wanted to stay here.
“You should be in bed.”
The child paled at the voice and ran away. She froze, and that feeling of numbness returned. Her fingers once were covered in blood as she tried to reach for him.
She turned around and saw him.
Blue eyes. Blue eyes were safe. Blue eyes were safe.
He smiled, and her fingers once covered in blood reached out to him. She was doing it again. But if he was here, then she never reached out to him. She never smelt smoke and ash mixing with the metallic scent of blood. Her throat burned as she hugged the man who laughed as he stepped back.
She wasn’t the only one in the room that smelled of ash. A man sat on the chair opposite her bed, rocking, rocking, rocking, always in motion. His eyes were wide and unfocused. She stared at his blue eyes. So, was this the real Blue eyes?
Every few seconds, his hand flickers to his face to swat invisible insects eating and clawing at him. Each day is the same and the medications cause more harm than good, affecting his muscles and sending him into a stupor. When he speaks, it makes no sense, like a telephone call only heard on one side and the caller leaping from one unconnected subject to another. Sleep is where he was motionless, an empty shell with no signs of life.
She sometimes wished for the man to never wake up. Rocking. Rocking. Rocking. Banging. Rocking.
More rocking, more banging. None of the medications or therapies had made him any less crazy. He was an inmate for life, no chance of parole.
She sighed as the nurse left and turned her attention to the ceiling. It was dirty. White was stained by blood. Maybe it was hers or Blue eyes’?
She stared at the bloodstains wishing for the burning sensation to come back. She didn’t want to stay here. She breathed in and out.
She was safe. Blue was here.
She looked at where the young man was. He was rocking and rocking. Rocking. Rocking. She frowned, and her eyes burned with tears. That was not her Blue eyes. She looked away, her eyes finding the bloodstain.
She tried to move her hands. She should reach for it. It’s what she did, right?
She closed her eyes as smoke filled her nose and lungs. Did she cough, trying to clear her lungs? Did she get her smear belt off? Or was it jammed?
She imagined smoke crawling its way inside her. She imagined the pain dancing throughout her body as screams tore from her throat one after the other.
She opened her eyes, staring at the bloodstain. She couldn’t remember. The blood changed shape. It was engulfing the whole celling wiping the white permanently. Did she want to remember?
The burning snake appeared once more and shook violently in her throat. She didn’t want to remember. Why should she? It was nothing more than delusion.
“One sheep, one sheep, one sheep.”
The snake crawled slowly all throughout her body trying to burn her. It was if she was sitting in the middle of a raging fire. Red as the sun, the fire would be twirling around her.
“Two sheep, why do we count sheep? Why not cats or… mice?” Blue eyes muttered as she was swallowed by the fire that came to alive after having a taste of her blood. Was it her blood on the ceiling? Or was it blue eyes’?
“Why are mice afraid of cats? Is it because cats are bigger than mice? Then why are elephants afraid of mice, when elephants are so much bigger than both cats and mice? Does the thing with black eyes and a small burn mark under its eyes know it left a witness behind? One sheep, one sheep, one sheep.”
He was pulling his hair, eyes moving around the room. He was searching for something, a small fire or maybe a small life. He stopped to look at her, the empty one, a fellow prisoner.
” Two sheep. One sheep, two sheep. Three sheep. Why do we count sheep’s?” he asked, blood dripping from his forehead.
She tilted her head and watched him as the fire preys on his skin. He was no longer rocking. She did not want to remember.
She tried to move her hand. She needed to protect.
Ice blanketed her as she froze. Protect? Protect what?
Her throat burned the ice around her, the cold emptiness melting away. It was thawing as if the rising sun burned away winter. An endless white turning to ash. All that was left was burned wreckage.
“She should be in bed,” Blue eyes whispered as he hugged her back. She can feel her throat bubbling with fire, but she does nothing but hug him tighter. She was cold and he like the sun could burn her. Blue eyes was safe. He was safe and warm.
Why did she lose him? Why did she lose them both?
“You should be in bed as well. We have work tomorrow,” he muttered, kissing her head as she buried her head in the crook of his neck.
“I want a hug!” The child screamed as she ran to her parents. Her father laughed as the little girl latched herself on her father and mother’s legs.
One day she would have enjoyed this. She would have smiled at her little family and love would have burned her soul. And she would have let it.
Her fingers flinched as the father of her child started to grow colder and colder.
“We really should go back to sleep,” he muttered sighing.
She heard sirens of an ambulance. The sound ringing in her ears overshadowing what the young man was saying.
“Bring the- syringe- heartbeat…”
She cried softly, not wanting to scare her precious little family. This should have been her reality. She could faintly smell hints of peppermint in the air. But it was turning to the sterile stench of bleach.
“What do we do?”
“It’s up to her to pull through. We can’t do anything else.”
“Poor woman she lost everything.”
She begged for their pity to end. She prayed for the world to quiet down so she could lose herself in her mind. Maybe someone heard her?
Her throat burned and nausea, the silent beast stirred from within once again. She opened her eyes to grey.
She was being held back as the fire ravaged on mercilessly.
She woke up, gasping for breath. Her body jerking and shivering. She embraced herself and rocked. Rocking. Rocking. Always in motion. She tried to calm her thundering heart.
It was not real. The fire did not touch her.
It did not eat her.
“Can I hug you?”
It didn’t consume her.
She stopped rocking and looked up. She was met with blue eyes that always reminded her of the ocean and hair as black as the ebony night. She nodded her head, and the dark embrace was replaced with warmth and love. “Coal…”
He hugged her and drew her closer to him. “Nightmare?”
“I’m sorry to wake you up,” she whispered her voice hoarse from shouting.
“Don’t apologise. I’m always here for you,” he replied softly making sure he didn’t startle her. “Besides, I’m selfish and want to hug my beautiful wife, who’ll soon be the mother of my daughter.”
It never stained her skin black. The fire never charred her.
She laughed with tears dropping as her hand moved to her stomach. She couldn’t believe it that soon she’ll see her baby. “She’s going to have your eyes.”
“And your crazy hair.”
But the fire did take.
She frowned, staring at him. “It’s not crazy.”
He laughed, planting a kiss on her forehead. His voice was music to her ears. She smiled as day fast-forwarded night turning into day and the outside breeze was hitting her. It was all a dream. It wasn’t real. She giggled at the thought as her throat burned and nausea willed itself inside her stomach.
She tuned it out and let the static fill her. She opened her eyes and was in a car. Coal was beside her. Blue eyes, filled with amusement.
The fire touched him.
She blinked, and the world is upside down her ears filled with her screaming voice.
Firefighters pulled her out as she screamed for Coal. She remembered how desperate she was to get to Coal. She saw them pull his body out. Charred and black stained his pale skin. She cried and screamed.
“…slow down,” a voice soothed her as she tried to open her eyes.
“Coal,” she croaked out as she trembled. Coal kissed her forehead and yelled for a doctor. She never took her eyes off of him. Skin not touched by fire and eyes not yet dulled grey. She felt hands on and chocked as the breathing tube was slowly and carefully being removed from her throat.
“Hayal,” he whispered tears coming out of his eyes. “You’re okay.”
Hayal closed her eyes and breathed in. A sweet smell of peppermint filled the air, and she felt safe.
“She’ll need to stay a few more days. We want to monitor her and the baby,” the doctor spoke, smiling at the young couple. “I’m afraid you’ll have to leave while we run some tests on your wife.”
Coal groaned, and Hayal laughed feeling alive. Her hand wrapped itself around her stomach as she felt the little one kicking.
“Don’t miss me too much,” Coal whispered, pouting. Hayal rolled her eyes at her husband’s silly antics. She watched him leave. She was lucky to have someone like him. She sighed in relief as her heart raced happily. It was nothing more than a horrible dream.
“Can I ask a few questions?”
She snapped out of her thoughts and nodded at the doctor.
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
She thought about it for a while before answering. The fire did not ravage anyone. It was nothing more than a silly dream. “We were in an accident. A car was speeding, and it swerved and hit us.”
The doctor stared at her before sighing. “Who was in the car?”
“Me and my husband Coal,” she answered back. She smiled as she felt her little one kicking. Don’t worry, she didn’t forget. “And I guess our child. Even though the little one is not born yet!”
“When is the baby due?” The doctor asked softly noticing where Hayal’s hands where.
“6 months, I think?” She answered yawning. She covered her mouth and blushed at the doctor, ready to apologize.
The doctor held up his hand, stopping her from speaking. “Last question and then you can sleep.”
She nodded her head, wanting to get this over with. After the crazy dream or nightmare, she just had, she deserved a proper sleep. She yawned and her throat burned once more.
The smell of smoke slowly filled the room. Fire as vengeful as the sun’s heat threatened to enter the room. She swallowed it all, no longer capable of distinguishing dreams from dreams and dreams from reality.
“Can dreams have dreams, Hayal?”
©️ Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash
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