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A piercing scream broke the serene stillness of the silent, dark night. Quickly, I realized it was a yelp of her own. I looked at the clock and saw that it was 4:10 a.m., which was around the same time in which I seemed to always wake up at. I popped up to sit up in my bed, being still, listening for any movement around the house. Wiping my tears, I realized that my hands were trembling erratically. All this did was panic me even more. I took deep, slow breaths and counted to one hundred, but it did not help to calm me; the tears kept coming and I was still unable to breathe at a steady pace, but I could not understand why. It was just a dream! Well, a nightmare, but, still!
I, the always calm, cool and collected curly-haired brunette had finally settled down my tears and nerves. I began to think deeply of reasons why this nightmare, along with the others I had been having, has such a major effect on me.
At first, I thought about how often they had been occurring: This is the third one this week, alone! They had started three months ago, when I talked about my dad to my boyfriend of two years for the first time. Not only was it the first time I had mentioned my father to Jake; it was the first time I had mentioned him to anybody. I have not even talked about him to my mother or best friend, Savannah. Finally, I thought that opening up to somebody would help relieve my stress, and it did during the daytime. However, at nighttime, all the stress from the sixteen rough years of my life that had been kept in was released whenever I tried to close my eyes. I started having them'maybe twice'in February. Then it was once a week in March, and now they were occurring nearly every night this month, in April. They only seemed to be getting worse. Although many of them were just repeats of each other, every time I had a repeat of a nightmare, somebody in them got closer and closer to being harmed. Also, the nightmare I had had tonight had the same exact thing in common with all the rest: I was only watching'like a ghost'what was happening before me. Many times in these dreams had I tried to get somebody's attention, but had only failed. Nobody could hear or see me; I was completely invisible, like some sort of Higher Power.
In this particular nightmare tonight, I was in a room that appeared to be a small part of a basement. The walls were freshly painted a beautiful gray blue color, and the couches were newly bought and decorated with fluffy white throw pillows. The room smelled of freshly bloomed flowers. In the whole room, there was only one window'a thick glass one that looked as if there were waves carved into it. If anybody were to try to look out of them, the only visible thing that would be seen was a green blur that was the grass. As I thought more about the basement in many of my nightmares, the more I thought about how awfully familiar the basement appeared, but I've probably just seen a basement like this in a movie or on a television show. Maybe that is why I am having all these dreams with this same basement in it.
In the basement room, there was a small boy who looked about eight years old, two little girls who looked about three years old, and a young boy about three also who I could tell right away was my boyfriend, Jake. I had known him since before I was even born and we've always been connected at the hip. Also, we have been dating for over two years now. The other young boy was crying hysterically and violently shaking on the smaller couch. I noticed immediately that it was my older brother, Mark, only at a younger age. However, I could not be completely sure; for some reason, there are not any pictures of anybody in my family until my brother was nine, and I was four.
The two young girls seemed completely oblivious to his sobs. They were caught up in some movie playing on the television set. There was a brunette girl with bright green eyes and a green dress, which matched them perfectly. I knew that that little girl was my best friend at that age, Savannah. But who is that other little girl, the blonde? Some of the blonde's features looked similar to my own, but I had never had blonde hair, had I? Although, I have never seen any picture of myself at an age younger than four, which I had always found odd, so there was still a chance it was me.
After I was about done observing my surroundings, I heard my mother's haunting screams coming from the floor above me.
'Don't you dare go down stairs! I may not stand up for myself but you know I will always stand up for my children, unlike you!' Her sobs and screams continued 'Don't touch them! Besides, the cops are on their way!'
Suddenly, an abrupt silence came. Then, I saw a big bare footstep onto the first stair, with a loud, thunderous thud. My best friend, the mystery girl, and my brother stopped everything, even the crying and looked toward the stairwell as the other foot stepped down. As if we were in a movie in slow motion, the man crept his way downstairs as slowly as possible. On his way down, he stumbled and stalled many times, losing his balance and almost tumbling forward after every step. Finally, he was standing at the bottom of the steps, as if waiting to be welcomed in. His face was flushed red, full of anger; his eyes like glowing, red demon eyes, full of vengeance.
'What are you looking at?' he slurred. Nobody replied; we were all too stunned and shaken to speak.
'Well?' he shouted with so much force his voice cracked slightly. Then I saw my brother open his mouth out of the corner of my eye.
'D-d-daddy, w-why do you look so mad?' My brother stuttered on his words as if it were a natural thing for him.
'Maybe you should go ask your worthless mother that! She's the reason I'm leaving!'
'B-but, why daddy?'
'Shut your trap and stop asking so many god dang questions! Go back to watching your dumb cartoons!'
'But nothing! I told you to shut up!'
And with that, the tall, angry man lunged forward toward the boy. I jumped in front of my brother to try to stop him, but I awoke as the man raised his arm from the side of his body and the sparkle of red and blue lights were seen through the blurry window. I did not understand so much about all of that. Who is that mystery girl? Why was my brother calling that man 'daddy?' My father died when I was only a baby, which would make my brother only about five, but in my dream he looked about at least eight. Plus, I have never seen one picture of my father, so I could not tell if that even was my father.
By the time I actually lay back down upon my bed, I realized that there was only an hour left before I had to get up for school, so I decided to just get an early start.
I couldn't concentrate at all at school and worse then that I had three tests that day and two reviews for them. I should have just stayed home and dealt with all of the make-up work. Since I had so much thinking to do, I decided that I was going to talk to my mom about all this stuff when I got home from school. Although I never really talked to her much about personal things; I was almost always a locked safe when it came to that. However, it seemed like it had been going on forever now and I could not wait much longer before I was not sleeping at all and became an insomniac.
As I walked in the doorway, I was secretly praying to myself that she had gotten off of work early, though that rarely happened. And to my surprise, she was home.
I practically flew up the stairs to her bedroom but then stopped myself before I entered it, in order to not appear as a crazed lunatic.
'Mom, I need to talk to you about something extremely important.'
'Hannah, is it an emergency? I am on a long distance call with your Aunt Lilly.' I could tell she was annoyed.
'It is, mom. Can you please call her back? I've finally worked up the guts to talk about this and if I don't then I'll be a crazed zombie or insomniac before I ever mention it again.'
'Uh, Lilly, I'll have to call you back a little later. I think my daughter is on drugs.' She whispered that last part into the phone, although she did not do a very good job of it. Then I heard murmurs from the other end of the phone. 'Well, no.' Then she began to whisper again, still doing a bad job of it. 'She's talking a little too fast to be normal.'
Finally, she just hung up the phone as Aunt Lilly kept grilling her with questions.
'Mom, I'm not on drugs. Oh, and you're a bad whisperer.'
'OK darling, quit with the attitude and tell me about this big emergency.'
So I went on to tell her about my nightmares and the people in them: the inebriate, Savannah, Mark, and the mystery girl who resembled me. After explaining almost all of it I began to cry, but once again I had no idea why. After a few short breaths, I went back to talking about the inebriate and how the eight-year-old version of my brother called him 'daddy.' When I got to that part she seemed to freeze up.
'Now Hannah Jane, you're just being silly. You know that your father, Thomas, died before you even turned one,' she said, laughing slightly.
'I know that, Mom. That's not the point of this. The point is that I haven't been sleeping at all and I'm positive I completely bombed three weeks worth of tests. I'm sixteen now and it's the end of my sophomore year. I need to keep my grades extremely high so I can start talking about scholarships and all that junk with my counselor. You know that I want to go to medical school, right? So unless you want to pay for all my tuition and dorm room I would stop laughing at all of this. This is serious, mom.'
'Honey, you're so obviously just stressed. Weird dreams and things like it happen all the time when you're over thinking things. Just relax a little. Go watch some television or call a friend over. Tell you what, since you're so stressed, why don't I let you invite Jake over? I barely see him or his mother anymore.'
Maybe she was right? Maybe I was just over-anxious about scholarships and school; I always have been an over-achiever. After trying once again to calm my rapidly beating pulse, I decided to call Jake up and invite him over for a nice, non-homemade frozen pizza and a scary movie. He agreed, especially because watching a scary movie with me is his favorite thing to do. That is something I had always loved about him; he was simple and uncomplicated.
Jake was over about thirty minutes later and the pizza was just about done. This was another thing I loved about him, since I did not have this: perfect timing and promptness. The only time I had either of those was when it came to my schoolwork.
The movie played and we ate the pizza, but halfway through it he noticed something was up. Now that he was here, I felt a lot more relaxed, but I felt a little guilty about not telling him all about my nightmares.
'Is something wrong? It seems like you've been totally zoned out all night. You didn't even react when I put my hand on your thigh like you usually do.' Now I felt even worse; I could see the worry in his deep brown eyes.
I was so on edge all day and I had not relaxed as much as I thought I had. As soon as I tried to speak, I burst into tears. I hated crying in front of other people with a burning passion, but I guess I had to face my fear by force.
I told him everything about all my stress, nightmares, and my mom ignoring my problems. Afterwards he just looked even more worried. But as always, he said all the right things and reminded me how to smile. Then he suggested that I just go talk to the school counselors; he said they really knew how to listen and could help people with any problem, big or small. I agreed, and the next day I was called down to Mr. Davis' office.
The first thing Mr. Davis did was he introduced himself and told me a little about how he got where he is, which definitely helped me feel a little more comfortable. Next, we had the dreaded conversation about my nightmares. I told him all about them and then I told him about how my mother just acted like I was being silly, but the more I talked about my problems the more I realized that there was something more to these dreams, I just did not know what, yet. Mr. Davis agreed with me.
Once about thirty minutes passed, he dismissed me back to class and said that he would begin calling me down to his office twice a week, and that also if I felt I was missing too much of class, that I could have before or after school sessions; I decided right away that I was already missing too much class and he said that after school sessions on Thursday would be good.
The whole next week was extremely uneventful, until Thursday after my next meeting with Mr. Davis. I was driving home on Eastwood St. when there he was, the 'daddy' in my dreams. I stared at him a bit too long and swerved, nearly hitting a tree. I felt like I was about to have a panic attack so I pulled over into some stranger's driveway. I caught my breath and decided that this was my one chance to see who this guy was. He started getting closer to where my car was and I got out approaching him.
'Excuse me, sir. If you don't mind my asking, but what's your name?' I asked quizzically.
'Well, I don't mind. My name's Tom Carson. What¾ '
'Tom as in Thomas?'
'Why yes, Tom as in Thomas. So what's your name, if you don't mind my asking?'
I knew it; I knew there was something more to my dreams. And now I knew why my mother was acting so suspicious when it came to my father. 'My name's Hannah Jane Carson,' I said nearly out of breath. I could feel all kinds of feelings rising out of me, but the most noticeable was the black dots that began forming. I tried my hardest to get the last sentence out. 'I'm your d-'
That's the last thing I remembered as I awoke in a hospital bed, with beeps all around me and wires hooked up to me. The first thing I saw was Jake. I was so ecstatic that he was the only person in the room. He asked me what happened and I told him about the encounter with the man in my dreams, my father. We did not have all that much time together before my mother entered the room and Jake left.
My mother informed me that the doctor said I passed out from exhaustion and that for the past month I had not been eating right. I was so worried and caught up in my nightmares that I must have been skipping meals and I did not even realize it until now. But then came the tough question: Is Thomas Carson my father?
'Yes, he is,' admitted my mother with a remorseful look on her face. 'However, I really wish that you would not see him right away. He is a recovering alcoholic.'
So that's why in my dreams his eyes were bloodshot and words were slurred. 'But what about the police cars and flashing lights?'
'I called the 9-1-1 as soon as your father went downstairs because I was afraid one of you children was going to get hurt. But the cops came in just in time and nobody was harmed. But, your father went to jail and he was in there for about four and a half years. I didn't tell you he was alive because as far as I knew he was going to be in jail for at least twenty years. He was a dangerous man, and probably still is.'
'Well, why was he in there for so long?'
'Well, honey, your father was an angry drunk. Luckily he never hit you kids, but he hit me, many times.'
I was so upset for her lying to me. I somewhat understood why she did what she did, I would rather have a dead father than a father in jail, but it was a cruel thing to do. I couldn't even look her in the eyes.
My anxiety issues were probably gone, now, but I felt so betrayed that I probably wouldn't be sleeping right for a long time, or talk to my mother. I decided right then and there that I was not going to see my father for a while, but maybe just talk to him on the phone. But I did not understand why if he got out of jail so long ago, why he did not come to see me. By the way my mother was talking about my father; she probably found a way to keep us kids far away from him. Although I wish he would not have turned out to be my father, I am extremely happy that my anxiety is finally gone.