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The Haunting Nightmare
I woke up panting. My heart was racing and I was terrified. It had become a routine thing by now, the nightmares; they came every single night. It was always the same one too; my father, jumping out of the airplane. His suicide playing over and over in my head until I couldn’t watch it any longer and I forced myself to wake up. Once I was awake I’d calm myself until I was okay again; as okay as one could be after having a dream like that. However, I always had to fall asleep again, so this process repeated several times every night.
I lay there staring at my ceiling thinking about my father and how much I missed him. I stayed awake for a while, letting a stream of happy memories run through my head until I slowly drifted back to unconsciousness, and once again the harsh memories morphed together to form that horrific nightmare that I despised.
There stood my father before me, gripping the sides of the airplane door, leaning over the edge. He was just standing there, dangling, staring at the world below him. No one noticed as he let go of the door for an instant, only to quietly unbuckle his parachute. Then before anyone could notice anything out of the ordinary, his hands were placed back in their original spot. He stood there for a moment and gazed out the airplane door, looking as if he were in deep thought. I watched as he intentionally let his fingers slip from the door, making him fall from the airplane. As he descended through the air he nonchalantly slipped his arms out of the parachute and that was that.
As the familiar image flashed before me something peculiar happened, and all of the sudden I was falling with him; he had grabbed my arm. I buried my face in my hands trying to escape from this disturbing new twist to my recurring nightmare. My stomach felt queasy and my head was throbbing. I peeked through my stiff fingers, and my nightmare had become a dream.
There I was, reunited once again with my father. Though we had no parachutes we were not falling; we were floating happily through the clouds and I was the happiest person on earth. There was no conversation going on between us, but it didn’t matter. All I needed and wanted was just to be with him again.
We sank down further into the atmosphere, getting closer and closer to the earth, gently hovering from one cloud to the next. We approached a cloud that seemed bottomless. I couldn’t see anything, not even my father just inches away. Then, all in an instant, we were dropped down like a meteor, and we landed in a strange place.
As I watched around me, tiny spheres of primary colors flew through the air recklessly, and I appeared to be in a ball pit. A ball pit? What was I doing here? All around me toddlers scampered frantically carrying tiny bags that overflowed with candy. There had to be at least ten of them in this utterly chaotic place. Someone scooped me up into their arms and I looked over my shoulder curiously; it was my dad. I knew where I was; this was my fifth birthday party! He flung me into the colorful pit and dove in after me.
Once more he picked me up and threw me in again. I was prepared to dive into a pit of a million little plastic balls, but was startled when I dove into a pool of water instead. As I gazed through my bulky goggles, I saw a dozen sets of legs treading through the clear water, one set of which did not belong to a human. It was my dog Sparky, who was occasionally allowed to swim in the pool with us. As I gazed all around me, I spotted a bunch of small colored rings scattered around the floor of the pool. All of the sudden someone shot past me, like a bullet that had just been shot from a gun, swimming toward the rings. Then I realized that I was swimming too. We were racing to see who could collect all of the rings. I tried to remember when this event had happened to me, and then it hit me. This was my tenth birthday party! I came up to breathe for the first time, gasping because I had been under water that entire time. Then, out of the blue, I spotted one last ring at the bottom of the pool that I had missed. I took in a giant breath of air and closed my eyes, and when I opened them once again I was not where I expected to be.
I blew a ginormous gust of wind that extinguished thirteen miniature fires on a birthday cake that said, “Happy 13th Birthday, Abigail!” The massive cake was light blue with an indigo border around the edges, and in the corner there was a smudge in the icing. I looked over my shoulder and Sparky was licking frantically at his snout which was covered in light blue frosting. I clenched my eyes shut and made a wish that to this day I can’t remember.
I was gobbling up an oversize slab of birthday cake when… “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!” 6:00 a.m. already. I lay there trying to soak up the warm feeling that I had obtained from that dream, when something occurred to me; going through my entire life with the negative outlook that I had had lately would get me nowhere. What I needed to be was appreciative for the things that I did have. I realized that it was not my father who had placed the horrifying burden of that hideous nightmare on my back; it was I all along. I had not been able to let go, and accept the way things were, and move on.
I got out of bed and looked out the window. The trees glistened under a thin layer of ice and my view of the outside world was a bit blurred from the light snow that gently fell from the sky. I stood there for a very long time embracing, for the first time in a long while, the greatness of a new day.