Sleeping On My Back
There is just whiteness and noise. The joke about a polar bear in the snow comes to mind. It's that kind of white, the kind that makes you strain your eyes for just a tiny bit of color, but it's just not there.
The only thing in this stark, bleached place is the noise. It's a little like that thing they used to do on TV that said, "This is a test..." but it doesn't stop. I try to find its source but it's all around me in the whiteness, ringing in my ears, making me tense my muscles as I grip my head. It's coming closer but there's still nothing to see but a blank canvas that somebody seems to have painted me into.
The scream begins in my stomach. I feel it moving upward, gaining strength with the pounding of my heart, pushing through the trap of my rib cage and being welcomed by my throat...
...and halted as I awake with a start. My eyes fly open and see it's daylight, not the terrible white light from my dream, but something friendly and golden. Time to put that out of my mind and start my day.
I quip with people at work but don't have real conversation with any of them. I don't like to impose myself on people.
At the end of the day, I drive home, fix something to eat in front of the TV and watch whatever is on for a few hours.
My pulse begins to pick up as I start yawning and blinking my eyes. I glance around me more frequently, attune to any little sounds, which are frequent as the old house settles for the night.
Soon it will be time to sleep and know that I'm completely alone. The hot detective on the show I'm watching won't be there, neither will my family or anyone I know. It's just me and paranoia.
I leave a couple of lights on as I make my way to the bedroom that I've had since I was a little girl. I don't do this when I'm not alone, but it has been so long since I shared my bed.
I turn on the overhead light in my room and ensure that the sudden shadows and sounds are just those thrown by the tinkling chandelier.
I take a big, hopefully brave swallow, as I fall to my natural position on my stomach, but old habits die hard and I quickly turn so that I'm facing the always open, scarred, black oak door.
I've always told myself it only makes sense and I was just lucky that I learned this lesson when I was so young. I still remember lurking in the hallway as my parents were in the adjacent living room, watching a scary show.
Part of my trepidation might have been because I wasn't supposed to watch that show, but there I was anyway, in the half-light of the corridor, peeking around the door frame into the dark room where the screen glowed blue.
The man on the bed with his back to the door was so stupid, completely unaware as the witch sneaked in and approached him with an axe. I crept back to my room and sat on the bed. My eyes darted from the unlit chandelier and toward my bedroom door.
With a nod and new-found fear, I got up and opened that door and made a silent vow. Nothing like what happened to him was ever going to happen to me, because I'd always sleep with an eye on the door...and a light on, I added, as I flipped the switch on the Little Bo-Peep lamp on my end table.
The Nursery Rhyme light has been replaced by a Tiffany lamp, spreading its multiple squares of color around the room when I snap it into the ON position.
My eyes shutter and finally close. Sleep is careful because I can't be caught unawares. I breathe deeply, lulling myself into rest, having done all I can to ensure my safety, protection from evil.
I involuntarily twist and moan. My spine is strained in my position on my side, so I move to sleep on my back, still with my head turned to the black oak door of my childhood.
I lie awake, trying to find a level of comfort to allow me to drift back to sleep, but the whiteness and noise return. I jolt on my mattress and open my eyes.
The sound is with me. With the overhead and end table lights on, I can look for its source from the safety of the bed, but I don't see it. The tinkling of the chandelier morphs into that droning, beeping torturous sound and I slap my hands over my ears to muffle it.
The whiteness overwhelms the squares of color from my crystal light. My dressing table seems to lose its shape, blurring to become part of it. I look around wildly for anything I might still know.
The pictures that have hung around me all of my life fade into the white walls, replaced by the sound, that incessant high pitch. I no longer can see black oak to alert me to danger. Nothingness, noise and paranoia are all that are with me.
The scream begins in my stomach, gains strength with my pounding heart, finds release in my throat, pours out of me in panic and becomes part of the noise, as I become part of nothing.