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Time Moves So Slowly When You're Tired.
I take another sip of my coffee after nodding off. Every hour without sleep after the first day becomes more difficult. I can’t face the nightmares anymore, not after Saturday night. It became too real; I felt his cold knives as they swiftly scratched my arm, the shooting pain as I pulled away, the blood in my bed when I woke up…
I can’t go back to that. I have to stay awake until I can figure this out. The councilors at school might be able to help me, if not, someone there can. Even if they can’t help me figure out my dreams, someone can get me espresso, energy drinks, caffeine pills, something to keep him from getting me.
Breakfast doesn’t taste as good when you know that sleeping will hurt you. Maybe even kill you. I make another cup of coffee before grabbing a soda and heading off to school. It’s earlier than usual, but it’s not like I had to get up early. I’ve been awake since 2 A.M. Saturday and dressed for school since midnight last night. I hate that I can’t drive, though. It’s not that I can’t: under any normal circumstances I’m a great driver, but I’m staying awake because I fear for my life and getting behind the wheel being so tired seems like it would negate that.
The bus ride is short, but makes it harder to stay awake. Something about the ride is hypnotic; the quiet chatter of the other students begins to lull me to sleep.
I catch myself when I fall asleep. I open my eyes to an empty bus in a desolate parking lot. Everything is unfamiliar. We must have gone to the bus depot. Why didn’t the driver wake me up? I climb out of the vehicle and walk forward a bit, looking for something on the horizon. Something compels me to look back at the bus, and behind it is the school. Why didn’t I notice it? The other side of the lot didn’t look like the lot in the school. I look back, and everything looks as it should. What is wrong with me?
I go into the building and the building is empty. Everything is broken and dirty. Desks are turned over and dust covers everything. I walk backwards to go out the door and it’s locked.
I have to wake up. I scream at myself to just wake up. Then I hear his laugh. I see his figure step out of the shadows. It’s just him and I in the long, dark hallway and nowhere to run. I closed my eyes and told myself to wake up. I feel his hands on my shoulder and I lose it. Trashing and screaming I try to shake to monster as he tries to hold me down.
“Emma” A stern voice says. It takes me a moment for me to register that it’s a woman’s voice. I open my eyes to see that I’m not in the dream school ruins. I’m on the bus in the school parking lot and it’s the driver that’s holding me, not the nightmare man. She lets the other students off first, letting the rumors spread before I have to chance to do damage control. She practically pulls me into the office, where she talks to the school secretary in hushed voice. The secretary gives me a frightened look as the driver goes into the councilor’s office. Well, I did want to talk to him.
It seems like an eternity before the driver and the councilor come out. The driver shakes her head at me as she walks out of the office and the councilor calls me in. I don’t know what she told him, but I am too tired to want to deal with this.
“Miss O’Malley…” The councilor says as he sits in his fancy chair, in a tone that almost seems mocking. I want to smack that smirk off his face. He doesn’t know what it’s like to have such vivid nightmares. I sit down in the uncomfortable, rickety chair on the other side of the desk. “…Ms. Lancaster told me about your little ‘episode’ on the bus. Care to tell me about it?”
“Well I don’t want to be redundant. What did she tell you?” I reply, frustrated that he’s blowing off my problems. I can’t believe I ever wanted to talk to this man about my problem.
“She said that you fell asleep on the bus (which you know is against the rules) and started convulsing. You started to hit her when she tried to calm you down. Is there anything you’d like to say about this?”
Bite me. “I did fall asleep and I had a very vivid nightmare, I’ve been having them for about a week now. I thought her holding me down was still a part of my dream. I didn’t mean to hurt her. I’m sorry.”
“You’re to go to class right now. I expect an apology letter to her on my desk first thing tomorrow morning. Understand? And get sleep at home, O’Malley.”
I would, but if I sleep at home, I won’t survive to the morning.”Yes sir.” I say as I’m almost out the door. I get a late pass from the judgmental secretary and walk on to English.
People whisper and point at me as a walk into class. I and the teacher the pass and walk to the empty seat in the back of the room whole trying not to make eye contact with anyone. I slump down in my seat and focus on staying awake. Every minute feels like an hour as I struggle to keep my eyes open. I start to snap the hair tie on my wrist every time I start to nod.
Class is only half way over when I can’t fight it any more. I give in and fall asleep. If anything happens, I’ll freak out and someone will wake me up. But maybe I’ll get lucky and won’t dream. The teacher droning makes it too easy…
I start awake. I guess my body doesn’t want to deal with the nightmare man either. I look around and everyone is sitting in their seats. The teacher is standing silent in the front of the room. I look closer at my classmates and they’re frozen, seat fillers in my dream.
I don’t know what to do at this point. Terrified of the nightmare man, I stay in my seat. But this room is too light for him to be in, right? He’s only been in the shadows. The only things I’ve seen of him are his knife glove and his old hat. He won’t come get me in the bright classroom.
Feeling safe, I walk to the front of the room and sit back in the teacher’s comfy chair. The room is empty now. I close my eyes and lean back to enjoy the way the way rest feels.
Then I hear nails on the chalkboard. I leave my eyes closed. I know it’s not nails, its knives: the knives from his gloves. I keep my eyes shut and scream.
Please hear me. Please wake me up!
His knives are no longer on the chalk board. They’re in my chest. The pain is too intense for me to keep my eyes closed. I open them to see his burned skin, his Christmas sweater, dirty old fedora, and shiny razor glove sticking out of my chest.
Back in the classroom full of people, all staring at me, I look down at my chest and see the four stab wounds. The blood quickly stains my once blue shirt. I can’t stand the pain anymore and pass out.
It’s funny how slow time seems to go when you’re tired. Days seem like months, minutes like weeks, and the final painful seconds of your life take hours.