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Nightmares of My Perfect Fantasies
"A is for Alex, Mommy's smart girl.
B is for Bette who runs as a chance to escape.
C is for Camm who will always remember her baby Alex.
D is for Daddy who loved you even before you were born.
E is for Everett who talks to everyone, even strangers."
My grey eyes shoot open too fast for me to quickly close them and return to sleep. I hated waking up remembering that I'm no longer "Mommy's little girl". I hated the vivid dreams too, but at least they reminded me that those years were real. That they actually happened.
Shuddering at the temperature inside my room, I reach for my blanket but feel nothing. Wrapped in the fetal position again, that must have been one hell of a nightmare for me to kick off the corse, ten-pound blanket. I slowly inch my body upward and turn onto my back staring blankly at the grey ceiling paint of my "home". When my feet touch the floor, I am welcomed by the computerized voice of my house system.
"Good morning Alex!" it said.
"Yeah, yeah," I simply reply as the elevator music starts to play throughout every inch of my house signaling a new morning. A new day. Another twenty four hours to sit on a white couch looking for jobs in the perfectly printed newspaper. I open the section labeled "JOBS" and immediately sigh.
The money situation has been relatively tight ever since I had to pay off my mother's funeral expenses, her retirement home fees, and the pile of bills sent to my doorstep every week. One title stands out in my mind as I return from thinking about my mother, Camm. It reads, "Wanted: Willing participant needed to undergo laboratory experimentation for the Head of Psychology at the local University. For further details call 101-2375." The opportunity was almost too good to pass up once I called the University. The secretary transferred my call to the two doctors conducting the experimentation. I was informed that the procedure including an in-depth examination of the human brain and its functions beyond the conscious mind. I would be put to sleep for five days while the doctors recorded every thought I had. However, there was a heavy risk and I would need to give my full consent in order to receive the reward money. After extensive questioning on my part, the risks included the rare possibilities of never waking up from this five-day sleep or sudden death. If in fact, I did wake up my reward was my life and $2,000,000.
I smiled a little brighter signing those consent papers the next day. A few minutes later, I was escorted by two large gentlemen who resembled the "Secret Service" down a long, narrow hall. Before the situation had a chance to intimidate me, a gigantic silver door shut firmly behind me. Clothed in a paper-thin hospital robe I lied down on the only object in the room at the time, an operating table. All around me doctors in masks were taping wires to my temples and forehead while one woman administered an IV drip to my arm. It all was happening so fast: the guards for security, the heavy door slam, the doctor minions running all around me. Were they worried that I would back out at the last minute and sprint for the door? I realized at that point why I wanted so badly to be the 'girl' they used in the experiment. It was certainly not for the money; therefore, I decided it was because I had given up on myself and on life. I had nothing else to live for really. When everyone you love has been taken from you, you're left without a heart. Without a heart, I may as well not even have a soul.
"This will hurt just a little" the lady nurse says as she hooks up the Iv tube to the end of a huge syringe needle filled with anesthetic. Well, there was no turning back from this point I would never go back to that drab little apartment filled with nothing but loneliness and broken memories. I would either wake up from this table richer than God or fall into the dark abyss of permanent sleep. Honestly, the second option seemed best because I'd never again have to wake up to the reality of living this constant nightmare I so-called "life." These are my last thoughts as I drift off into unconsciousness but I swear by my life I hear the most haunting words whispered before I succumb to sleep.
"A is for Alex, Mommy's smart girl.
B is for Bette who runs as a chance to escape.
C is for Camm who will always remember..."
I wake up in a cuddle seeking my own body heat as I look around the dim-lit room. It must be night and I'm waking up in the university clinic. Wow it's been five days? My ear picks up a slight buzzing sound and I whip my head to the left. The noise startled me but it slowly starts to escalade getting louder and louder. The sound make a rhythm and before I know it carousel music dances around me. Unalarmed I sit up and start to walk around. Only, this is NOT the clinic room I was last in. In fact, I'm not in any kind of room there are no boundaries of any kind around me almost as if I'm waking into a grey mass of oblivion.
Suddenly I see a light and run to it without questioning anything. The light grows brighter and brighter as I grow closer until the light turns into a lamp post illuminating six gigantic doors each a different color. Walking closer to the doors they stood seven feet tall with each a unique design and something written on each of them. The red was a romantic rustic design and read, "Georgie Porgie". The orange looked like a modern doorway reading, "Humpty Dumpty" and the yellow resembling the sun said, "Rock a bye baby". The green was an old arched garden door reading, "Mary Mary" while the tall sea blue door marked, "Jack and Jill". The last small door was of course purple finishing the color scheme and read, "Three Blind Mice."
Looking at these doors forced me to recognize a pattern: nursery rhymes? The only nursery rhymes I really remember were the ones my mother would sing to me as a child trying to get me to fall asleep. I would only fall asleep to the one she made up herself and stay awake listening to the imaginary stories each rhyme had to offer. Now I knew I was dreaming but the essence of detail on these doors seemed so real. I slowly walked to the orange door of "Humpty Dumpty" and pushed the swinging door open as cautiously as possible. As I stepped forward I recited the famous nursery rhyme as the door closed behind me,
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses
And all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again."
Trying to place the puzzle pieces together as if the rhyme had any significance I hung on the lines, "had a great fall... all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again." The eerie connection to my father's death sent shivers up my spine. But I was more concerned with what lied in front of me. The image of my mother made my jaw drop and eyes water. I had missed her so much lately. I soon noticed that her wrinkles had vanished and she looked much younger. A stranger dressed in an army uniform stood next to her upon the porch steps of my childhood home. The strapping man tall, dark and muscular leaned forward and kissed an object in my mother's arms. From afar it looked like a baby within a pile of blankets, then suddenly it struck me. I had never seen a single picture of my father before and always visualized what he might look like.
Now standing here as an awkward passerby I was unconscious of my feet traveling lightning speed toward the beautiful scene before me. I tripped on the uneven grass and fell forward into my father's figure. Expecting a disastrous impact, I closed my eyes. When I opened my eyes I was laying on the ground face-down but quickly turned around to help anyone I took down while falling. I did not expect to see that the image of my parents and myself as a baby was untouched. It was as if I had fallen through them, a ghost to their world. Heartbroken, I remained still and did the only thing I could: observe. I watched as my mother cried and the baby laughed reaching for its father. His dark brown eyes watered up so quickly that as he scooped me out of the blankets against his chest, he was already in tears. My heart broke into a thousand pieces at that moment knowing that was the last moment I would spend with my father. Mother had told me of his death as a war hero when I was old enough to handle it, but watching him with his newborn baby illustrated the must desired picture in my imagination: my father was a hero to me and my mother inside his own household safe from war. My stomach turned inside of me and the pain I felt now emotionally could not be described or even imaginable. Tears flowed smoothly down my face as a lyric popped into my head, "D is for Daddy who loved you even before you were born." My father was never around when I was growing up but he was in a spiritual essence very much a part of my family. Every night that my mother sang this nursery rhyme, he was the fourth verse. If this were a dream I wanted out of it, so I ran back to the orange door as fast as possible.
The monstrous door slammed behind me and finding myself in the same dark room I went into the next door without even reading its title. I think it was yellow. The room I walked into was cold and breezy. A relatively small room was crowded with an old wooded baby crib and matching dresser to the side. The chair next to the open window was rocking eerily back and forth even though the window curtains remained calm with the wind penetrating the room. Feeling the presence of another person and eyes peering toward me, I turned my head at the sound of a cry. Muffled sounds and slurs of words broke into the atmosphere as I stood there watching my young mother rock herself back and forth. Her boney knees were clenched close to her chest and her mascara left black lines running down her face. Sympathy took over my emotional state of shock and I knew it wouldn't be affective, but I sat down by her side and put my hands around her. Since I was a ghost in these dreams, she did not shudder at my touch nor notice it entirely. Suddenly I heard a crash followed by baby's cry along the other side of the room. I sprung to my feet and found a baby laying next to the cradle/crib that fell due to intense winds. That baby was me exactly twenty-three years ago. I slightly recall a neighbor telling me that after my father died in the war, my mother was so distraught that she sunk into depression. I had a scar on the top of my forehead from an instance where I fell out my crib as a baby; I guess this was that instance,
"Rock a bye baby on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all."
Terrified and slightly exasperated, each door I tried to escape to and from contained a different scenario. My brain quickly processed that each door contained an important memory of my life, a chapter that I buried in the back of my head. This emotional nightmare I was currently trapped inside made the "scary" dreams from a few nights ago look like mere child's play. Upon leaving "Rock a bye baby", the purple door of "Three Blind Mice" opened automatically and foolishly I entered. The "Three Blind Mice" scene was three small children running around a bright green lawn pulling roses from a bush and singing. Those children were me, Bette Sear, and Everett Prescott no more than seven years old. We were the three best friends from daycare to college but each friend had a tragic ending. In this situation, Mrs. Sanchez, our old neighbor, chased us around with a broom trying to get us off her pocket-picked lawn of roses. As a child, the chase was fun but in this nightmare I was honestly scared not of Mrs. Sanchez, but what would happen if we were caught.
The next door was perfectly designed for its nursery rhyme theme; the green garden door read "Mary Mary". We nicknamed my friend, Bette Sear, "Mary" due to this same nursery rhyme,
"Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row."
Bette was an avid gardener when we were teenagers. Whenever we would hang out on the weekends, we could always rely on Bette tending her beloved garden. Then tragedy struck and Bette was kidnapped at the age of fourteen. The crime itself was a mystery, everyone loved Bette; however, there was no evidence left behind besides a few drops of her blood and her garden's gloves left unattended. A hole was ripped out of my chest that day as I silently sat by her garden wondering how it would grow without her, how life in general would continue without her.
"Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after."
It was the summer after Bette had disappeared leaving our friendship in shreds. Everett Prescott was the only other person I could lean on during hard times, but unbeknown to me Everett was dealing with his own Hell. We went on a run one sunny afternoon when Everett's masculine face turned to me and he said, "I'm leaving Alex. I just wanted to let you known that I love you but I simply can't take life anymore in this forsaken town. It haunts me every second."
"What do you mean, 'leaving'? Are you moving?" I asked desperate for answers.
"No. My family will never know, nor will they care. I love you Alex, goodbye."
That was the last time I would ever see Everett. He sprinted away and left me on the sidewalk of our street. Without hesitation, I tried running after him as fast as I could but Everett was an amazing athlete. I was used to being abandoned; my father, my mother, and now Everett. Life had become a nightmare but reliving these moments was the scariest, most painful experience. I wanted out of this God-forsaken dream now.
Maybe if I visit all the doors the dream will vanish as if I completed the maze. I reached for the red, rustic door's handle and entered the rhyme of "Georgie Porgie." If anyone in the psychology clinic was administering dreams of my memories to me on purpose, this would have been the cruelest form of punishment. Before me stood the love of my life, smiling. Why was he smiling? I was already in tears. I had missed him so much and immediately recognized this moment. We stood outside of my house in the middle of fall with the leaves around us turning bright red. To me, there was no one else in the world that mattered but his presence. I moved to the right and saw that he seemed real, as perfect as ever. Paul was always tall, muscular, and had the most amazing smile that set every girl's heart ablaze. And he was mine, for two years at this point. Yet, this scenario was different from all the others. There was no "past" me standing next to Paul. It was only me, the dreamer, with him. He leaned over slowly and planted his tender lips against mine: our goodbye kiss. Paul whispered in my ears the words that killed me softly every time I remembered them, "Forever and always. Wait for me and I'll come back for you. I love you, Alex."
"It's three months baby, I can't even picture myself going a day without seeing your face," I replied with tears streaming down my face. It was deja-vu to the extreme; I had said the exact words in the same situation before and I was feeling the same emotions.
"Three months, two days, and four hours in counting. I'll be thinking of you with every breath I take. Just promise me you'll never let me out of your heart."
Those two words were the easiest words I'd ever had to say because I meant them but uttering goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. He never came back though. Just two weeks into his army group's trip into Iraq a car bomb killed him and his whole squadron. Knowing that I would never spend another waking moment with him, that was when I sunk into depression wondering why everything I loved in life had been taken from me. Once my fading mother with Alzheimer's disease died, there was no point in living anymore. I voluntarily subjected myself for brain analysis knowing that time I slept, my memories of loved ones would flow back into my head as realistic as possible. I wanted to freeze frame that last moment with Paul when suddenly, I was out of breath and my imaginary world around me started to glow with light. Little specks of my dreams began to disappear. Before I knew it I was headed into a bright light. Death. I prepared myself for the idea of never coming back and I accepted it willingly.
Zap! My body jerked upward into a spasm, shaking like jackhammer. I was fully aware of my surrounding in a nanosecond. The room was heavily lit with all white ceilings and floors. I laid atop a hospital table with my eyes wandering across the room. The nurse in all white with a mask across her face stuck an enormous needle into my arm. The pain made me cry out as my body still shook with great force and my mouth began to foam. I heard a small conversation in front of me as one nurse asked another, "What happened this time?"
The other replied uniformly, "She forgot to take her prescribed medication again."
My world went black again but above my bed, I could make out the faint title of "Monroe Psychiatric Institution for the Mentally Disabled."