It begins again as I drift off into a deep slumber a few hours before dawn. The screams echo in my ears as though I am right there, watching it happen as the seconds pass by. I feel the same helplessness I feel every night since the day I turned twelve.
I watch as the creature flaps its wings in the metal cage deep inside the forest. In my nightmare, it’s always dark. The only illumination I see is the one provided by the full moon that stays high in the sky, a white orb in the black night.
My chest feels like it’s on fire. I strain my neck to lift my head off the ground.
I follow the same pattern I always have. I move my right hand first, flexing my fingers to regain the feeling I’ve lost. It hurts.
It hurts so bad I want to lay down and let the darkness take away the pain. But the scream awakens me from the fog threatening to overwhelm my senses.
After living through the same scene for more times than I can possibly count, I now have learned to separate myself from the intense, painful sorrow I feel beating at me. It is almost like a sledgehammer beating at my skull, trying to break down every defense I created over the past years.
Now, I watch as the dream plays out like it always has.
The winged creature, thrashes around in the metal cage. Each time it hits the bars, a loud hiss sounds and the scent of burnt flesh permeates the air. I try to lift off the ground, but I know it’s futile.
I hate this part.
In my dream, I become aware of the condition my body is in.
It is mine, but at the same time, I know that isn’t me.
The body I see when I lift my head, belongs to me for certain. But only when I’m in the other world.
Blood leaks from my thigh, a gaping hole in the spot just above my knee, stares back at me. I tilt me head just slightly and I see the cause of it. A spearhead lays on the grass next to me, its metal tip drenched in blood.
There’s a dreadful urgency building in me. I try to pull back. My mind wars with the oncoming fear that promises to kill me from the inside.
The creature in the cage is about to die. I know it. I blink, feeling something wet slipping down my forehead. My head throbs.
When I attempt to lift myself even more, my body screams in protest. A silent cry leaves my mouth. My ribs are cracked. My collarbone is broken.
I do not know how I know this, because this isn’t my body. Over the past years, I’ve entertained the thought that I’m seeing it through another person’s eyes. But the question that has plagued me, is who is it? Whose eyes am I seeing this through? Is this even real?
The loud thud of a body against metal reverberates through the forest. The trees shiver as though in fear of what is about to come. I make an effort to move.
The woman whose eyes I see through is mute. I discovered that the third day I had the dream. I can hear the loud thud of her heart in my ears. Her senses are very sharp. Every sound in the forest seems to be heard by her.
I can hear the blood leaking through her body, see the twisted shape of her ankle.
It’s a grotesque sight.
It makes my stomach heave.
I am her now. For these few moments of time when I cross over into the other world.
I sit up, fighting through the pain beating through me. fear, unadulterated and shadowy, fills every corner of my being.
He is about to die. I can’t save him!
The thought dominates my senses. Gut wrenching sorrow breaks my heart.
I can’t live without him. I can’t. How will Zelda survive?
Tears fall down my cheeks. I feel them tracing a wet path on my skin.
No. No. NO!
I push myself up and off the ground with a strength I didn’t know I had. In my mind, I know I’ve replayed this a thousand times, but the pain my dream self feels still gets to me. I know I will wake up with my pillow drenched in droplets of blood.
The forest goes silent, as though waiting with bated breath.
The screams and howls from the inside of the cage have died in intensity. I can feel something inside me crack. Everything in me feels like it’s slipping away, piece by piece.
Zachary. Zachary. Zachary!
I repeat the name over and over in my head. Memories flash through my mind. A beautiful blue eyed man looking down at me as I lay next to him. His shoulder-length blond hair messed up by my hands. I see him smile at me, a gentle, loving, warm smile, before he turns to his right and looks at the tiny figure of a child dancing before the fireplace. The room is warm and cozy and lights on the mantle indicate that it’s Christmas time. I know that he’s the woman’s husband.
I’m pulled back into the forest, the chill in the wind seeps into my skin.
I stumble across the distance between me and the cage. There are words forming in my head. A language I do not know. The words surge through the woman. They surge through me. I feel warmth forming in the region of my heart, flowing through my veins till I feel the tips of my fingers grow hot. I look down to see the faint golden glow form on my palms. My heart begins to race.
I know what can set him free. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to go through with it.
The words begin to hum in my head. Power, white and potent, surges through me. I point my hands in the direction of the cage. A second passes and my hands glow brighter.
With a silent cry, I release the power in me, focusing it with intensity on the metal cage, entwining my intention with the words, hoping and praying that it works.
The spell hits the metal cage bars and gets sucked in.
I fall to my knees.
Agony wells up inside me.
I rush as fast as I can to the cage, wrapping my hands around the metal. It takes a second for my eyes to adjust to the darkness after the brief glow of light.
What I see inside breaks my heart more. Zachary lies still on the ground, a few feet away from the edge, his body ravaged and naked.
I reach out and strain my muscles, trying to reach him. It takes me a second of agonizing pain to twist my arm and body in a way that lets me move closer to him.
The second I touch him, his eyes fly open and blood red eyes focus on me.
My heart stops beating.
No. God, no. Not my Zachary!
I watch in horror as he grips my wrist in my hand, the tight hold cracking my bone. His fangs lengthen and his lips draw back in a snarl. Two large protrusions on his shoulders, lift and spread, forming a wingspan with black, smooth feathers. Then he roars, a sound of pain and outrage with a promise of retribution.
I feel a sharp pain shoot through my arm and then my world goes black.
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