Air fills her lungs to their capacity. She sits bolt upright. Her eyes fly open, searching, searching for something concrete, something real. Blackness. Her heart is pounding in her head. Her arm is reaching out, searching for the lamp. Crash. The lamp catches on her flailing hand and falls to the floor, startling her even more. Instinctively she draws her knees in to her, curls her arms around her body, and squeezes her eyes shut. Her heart is deafening now. Her breath is caught in her lungs, her face is tight; her chest is fully expanded. Her mind is racing, spinning showing her image upon image. She’s dizzy. Rocking now, back and forth, back and forth. Her breath escapes through pursed lips, shallow, fast; she can feel the pressure of a building scream. Tears are now streaming down her face. Back and forth, back and forth, she tries to will herself into control. Suddenly a hand comes out of the blackness and grabs her arm. The scream breaks forth and she is tumbling off the side of the bed to the floor, scrambling for safety, not having a direction just clawing at the rug, screaming and moving away, her eyes wide in terror.
There is a blinding light and a loud thump as the other bedside lamp comes on, “Hey, hey, hey, it’s me, it’s just me. You’re okay, you’re okay. It’s okay.” Her husband approaches her cautiously and gently takes her arms. She is pressed into the corner, hands over her head, rocking and crying hysterically. “Are you hurt?” he whispers gently, “Did you have a bad dream?……It’s okay, you’re okay now, it’s okay.” The rest of the night passes like a blink, there is no memory of it, there is no more sleep. She has spent her early morning hours in front of the ghostly light of the television set. She doesn’t remember what she’s watched, most of the time she is elsewhere. Time speeds up, her husband comes down and leaves for work and it hardly registers on her exhausted mind. Did she wish him a good day? Did she move from the couch? She can’t remember. Two small pills fall into her hand and make their way to her mouth. A cool mouthful of water washes them into her system. Sleep. Sleep would be nice.