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Nightmares of Someone Else's Choosing

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Angela winced as she eased herself down into the chair at her desk. The laptop screen stared back at her but Angela’s attention was still focused on the dull ache that throbbed up and down her leg. Her hand went to her left hip, rubbing the protesting muscles. Her physical therapist, Raul, had promised her that the aches would start to go away as they worked together. “Be patient,” he’d said, “you just got out of traction.”

Raul knew she was having trouble being patient. He probably knew it from the first day they met. Within minutes of first meeting, Angela had asked him how long it would be until she was back to normal. When Raul asked her how long she expected, Angela had guessed a few weeks at most. Raul had given her a knowing smile and suggested that they get to work. It had been over three months since the accident and Angela was getting antsy for normalcy. But she couldn’t complain to Raul. Not much, at least. He understood what it was like, having suffered worse injuries back in the 80s when medicine wasn’t nearly as advanced.

She sipped her coffee before turning her attention back to her laptop. It was hard to keep up with all the people who wanted to know how she was doing since the accident. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate the outpouring of concern. She found it nice to know so many people were thinking of her, wishing her well. But realistically, answering each query separately would take a good chunk of her day. So she had decided to try out this blogging thing she’d heard about.

She twisted to the left, flipping open her daybook to find her Blogger password. The desk she’d bought to fit in this small room wasn’t big enough for her laptop and any books or paperwork, so she always ended up using her twin-sized bed as a desk return.

It was a small room, now made smaller by her need for crutches, but she got her own room here, which she wouldn’t have had in the dorms at University of Georgia. She even liked her two roommates. And for Atlanta, the price was good.

But the rooms were small, and just like the dorms, they weren’t allowed to put any holes in the wall. Not even to hang a picture. She’d used gummy glue to put up a Pulp Fiction poster and a picture from the last vacation her family had taken before her dad had passed away.

As she turned back to the laptop to type her password, her eyes caught on the family photo she’d put on the wall in front of her desk.

The sight of her dad’s broad smile made her heart ache. To his side was Grant, her brother, looking uncharacteristically happy. She and her mother sat on the short rock wall in front of them, the ruins of Cumberland Island in the background. Her mom looked relaxed, which was a rarity.

Angela let out a heavy sigh as she studied her own carefree smile. She wished she could back to that time, when her life was uncomplicated and her family was complete. It seemed impossible that so much had changed in four years.

Thinking like that wasn’t going to help anything. She typed her password to access her account and found the button to start a new entry.
She’d opened a Blogger account before class this morning and now it was time to buckle down and say something. But what? Her days primarily consisted of classes, physical therapy, and more classes. Hardly anything someone would be itching to read about on a daily basis. Still, she couldn’t shake the idea that a blog would be a good way to let her friends know how things were progressing in her life. Angela’s fingers tapped against keys.

*Being back in class makes me feel like my life is back to normal. Even if I’m still going to twice-weekly physical therapy sessions and I’m not allowed to put much weight on my leg yet.*

She leaned back in the chair and drummed her fingers against the desk’s smooth surface. Her first blog entry had to be more than just three sentences about the inner workings of her course planning. Fingers back on the keyboard, Angela once again started to type.

*Getting around is hard right now even with the crutches. But at least there are elevators in all the buildings on campus. And I’m picking up speed on the crutches.*

She stared at the screen, the flashing cursor tempting her to add more. Something deep or at least something that would convey a little more about her life.

*I’m already getting really tired of people telling me how tired I look. I can’t sleep at night. I keep having these awful nightmares. I don’t know what they’re about because I can’t remember anything about them when I wake up. All I know is that I don’t want to go to sleep at night. I never know when the nightmares will come. They’re not frequent, but they’re awful.*

Angela frowned at the screen. She deleted the last paragraph, deciding that no one wanted to hear about her nightmares. Besides, she couldn’t put into words how these nightmares made her feel. She could call it creeping dread but that wasn’t enough. It didn’t begin to describe the cold sweat that covered her body like a film when she finally awoke or the sick feeling that sat at the base of her throat. Describing her feelings of panic and despair when she woke up wasn’t sufficient either.

Angela tried again, *Nightmares have been keeping me up since the accident. I haven’t had nightmares since I was younger and it’s hard dealing with them now that I’m an adult. I thought they were something you outgrew. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m having nightmares. I did die in the ambulance and then spend several weeks in a coma.*

She sighed, then deleted that paragraph, too. Not only was it depressing but it didn’t feel necessary to talk about what happened in the ambulance. After all, didn’t most accident victims have nightmares? It was best not to mention it. Besides, she didn’t want anyone to think she was fixated. Suddenly Angela thought that blogging was way harder than it looked. Every word could be taken out of context, worry a person unnecessarily, or possibly bore readers to tears. She determinedly tucked her medium-length blond hair behind her ears and tried again.

*I’m trying to keep busy. These classes are all repeats of what I was taking when the accident happened. So for now they’re pretty easy. I’m using the time to get ahead on my coursework and get involved in some extracurricular activities. My boss at the school paper has given me an editing job to help me get back into the swing of things, and that’s been great.*

A few minutes passed. Angela watching the flashing cursor blinking away before she typed out her last few sentences for the time being.

*Sorry, everyone. I don’t have much to say right now. More later, I promise.*

She hit the “Publish” button. Now all she had to do was send emails to everyone who kept pestering her to let them know how she was doing. Another flash of guilt hit her as she wrestled with dueling feelings of gratitude and irritation.

It really was sweet that people cared enough to ask but after answering the same questions repeatedly, she hoped this blog would be a fun and efficient way of keeping in touch.

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