Sunday was spent finishing homework assignments and getting ready for the week. I was taking honors classes, so things were pretty crazy. When that was all done, I talked on the phone with Emma. Practiced the acapella songs for the competition. And waited for a phone call from Sam, which never happened. By 9:00, I was pretty tired.
I woke to a chill deep in the night. My sheets and blankets were gone, leaving me vulnerable to the open air. My body was trembling. The cold was like needles on my bare skin. My sheets could be felt along my thighs, but when I tried to reach for them, I couldn’t move. My arms were rigid, my legs too. The only thing I could move was my eyes. I turned them towards the open window where the sound of the wind ripped around. My curtains blew violently along the pumping gusts that invaded my room. I thought in vain I shut my window before bed.
My sheets slid down my thighs. I tried to reach for them, but still couldn’t move. Then they slid further. I tilted my eyes towards the bottom of my mattress. Black hair blew wildly. Two dark eyes gazed at me. A woman was there.
She was on the floor on her knees, curled up like a cat. My sheets were in her mouth, being swallowed as she chewed. Soon, the last of my sheets disappeared into the blackness of her throat as she finished. Her head bent lower to latch her teeth to the sheet beneath me. Inch by inch, my body was brought closer. I wanted to scream, but my mouth remained sealed shut. I tucked my toes to my feet, cringing. Her tongue brushed my heel.
I woke with a shriek.
My bedroom door opened. My mother was there. “Sarah?” she asked, concerned. “What’s wrong?”
I sat up, tucking my body against the cold. “I was having a terrible dream. There was a woman. At the end of the bed. She was eating my sheets. Pulling me closer. She was going to eat me. I couldn’t move. It was terrible.” I was trembling, fixated on the darkness at the end of my bed. The window was open. My sheets and blankets missing.
My mother offered soothingly, “Well, it was only a nightmare.”
“But it was so real.”
“It was only a bad dream. Sarah, you’re shaking. Let me get your blankets.”
“I’m so cold.”
“Of course you are. Your window is open and your blankets are on the floor.” My mother walked to the end of my bed where the bedding had fallen away.
I remained cautious, peering over the end of my mattress as though afraid of dropping off into a hole where the woman had hidden herself. “I must have kicked them off.”
My mother lifted the sheets. “Why are they damp?”
“I don’t know.”
“It must be moisture from the cold,” she concluded.
I laid back down as she pulled the sheet and blankets up to cover me. She kissed my forehead. “Let me close your window. You’ll catch a cold.”
“You’re welcome. Do you need anything else?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Are you sure?”
The fear had mostly faded. I laughed at myself. “Yeah. I’m okay. Thanks, Mom.”
My mother walked to the door. Her hand was on the knob. “Sarah –”
“If you have another nightmare, be careful not to wake the other children.”
I asked, “What other children?” but my question went unanswered as my mother closed the door behind her.
I asked because I didn’t yet understand.