Incandescence (Part I)

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I heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire and was jolted awake screaming. I was filled with terror and my body was trembling uncontrollably.

Bradley came racing into my room. The look on his face was of sheer panic. ‘What happened?’ he asked as he wrapped his arms around me.

‘She was there, she was there’ was all I could say in between sobs.

Bradley held me tight, reassuring me with the words ‘it’s ok, I’m right here, you’re safe’ he just kept repeating the words over and over until I finally started to calm down. My body was still trembling and I asked Bradley to lie down next to me and hold me; I felt safe in his arms and his scent helped sooth me.

I don’t know how long it took for my sobbing and trembling to stop, but I finally fell asleep in Bradley’s arms.

I woke up a few hours later, still wrapped in Bradley’s arms; I don't think either of us moved for the remainder of our sleep.

It was only now that I realized he was holding me wearing only his boxers. I gently used the outside of my index finger to stroke his arm; I needed to wake him up, knowing he had to get ready for the Executive Management Meeting.

‘Is everything ok?’ he asked as he gently kissed me good morning.

‘Much better after having you here’ I honestly replied ‘but you need to get moving, you have your meeting this morning’ I added trying to get him up and out of bed.

‘What happened last night?’ Bradley asked as he was getting dressed

‘I had a dream of the night I was shot’ I replied, watching Bradley button his shirt

‘And who is She? You kept saying She was there’ Bradley walked over to me to see if I remembered anything.

‘Did I say anything else?’ I asked hoping he would be able to tell me more, but Bradley shook his head ‘I wish I could remember what I saw’ I said frustrated with myself.

‘You were petrified last night’ Bradley said as he sat on the bed beside me ‘maybe I should stay here with you today’.

After a short pause I continued ‘We can’t put our lives on hold because of this. You’re going to work and I’m going to call the counsellor I used at my last workplace. I need to deal with this and she was really good with staff, so hopefully she’ll be able to do an online consult’.

Bradley knew I was right. ‘Promise you’ll call me if you need anything’ he said as he kissed me one last time before leaving the bedroom and heading off to work.

After Bradley left, I stayed in bed. I lay there thinking of Bradley and subconsciously found myself holding the pillow Bradley had been lying on, inhaling his scent. I closed my eyes wanting to feel his arms wrapped around me.

With a deep breath I finally pulled myself out of bed and made myself a coffee. Walking around Bradley’s home I gravitated to the outdoor area and gazed at the harbour.

My mind returned to what Bradley had told me and I was trying to will myself to remember who ‘She’ was. What did I see in my dream? Was my subconscious trying to tell me something.

I knew I needed to speak with my Counsellor Caroline and at 8.30am I picked up my phone and called her office. Caroline was booked weeks in advance, so I was ecstatic when she offered to fit me in at 11.20am for an online consultation.

I went to get changed and realized I didn’t have anything clean to wear; my online order hadn’t yet arrived. I made my way to the laundry to wash what limited clothing I had, and realised that Bradley had baskets of dirty laundry that were piled high. I couldn’t help but feel it was my fault; he was spending all his time trying to help me, that he was neglecting his own needs.

There wasn’t much I could do around the house in my condition, but I could do a few loads of laundry and some ironing. So to distract myself I got to work.

An hour into the laundry I decided to call mum; I hadn’t spoken to her since Friday when I had told her I’d be moving in with Bradley. Mum was so happy to hear my voice and in typical ‘mum style’, she wanted to know how everything was going.

While chatting away, I surprised myself by admitting that I was falling for Bradley; it was the first time I’d actually admitted it out loud. I could tell mum was excited by my revelation but she didn’t pester me. I really did love her and at that moment I was so glad we had such an open relationship.

Mum was looking forward to visiting on Wednesday and before we ended the call, I promised her I’d tell her everything during her visit.

To help pass the time between laundry loads, I started to tidy up. It was only a quick clean as I was aware of my limitations.

I made my way to the study and spotted the files I had asked Leonard to sneak into the office for. Bradley had taken them home with him that evening, but with everything going on, he must have forgotten about them. I made a mental note to go through the files during the week; I was still certain there was something Mandy was hiding.

Between the laundry and ironing, I had lost track of time. It wasn’t until my phone rang that I realized it was 11.20 and time for my online consultation with Caroline.

I told Caroline about the threats I received and the shooting. I told her about my nightmare and that my Uncle heard me yelling ‘She was there’ (I was truthful in everything I had told Caroline other than my living circumstances, I told her I was staying with my uncle on his property).

I heard an alarm go off in Caroline’s office and realized my hour-long session was over. Sensing my disappointment, Caroline offered to continue with the session while she had her lunch break; and with that we were able to continue talking a further 30-minutes. I was provided with some coping tools and was so appreciative of everything she had done.

After the session with Caroline I was feeling better. She was a fabulous Counsellor which was why I had always referred my employees to her. I made myself a quick sandwich for lunch before returning to the laundry for another load of washing. I enjoyed keeping busy as it helped the day pass.

To keep my energy positive, I connected my phone to the Wi-Fi speakers, turned up the volume and ironed along while dancing to my playlist. The music helped me get through the mammoth load of ironing.

I was in the zone, dancing away and totally oblivious to Bradley who was standing in the doorway; watching me and laughing.

‘Hey there’ I called out to Bradley ‘come, join me’ I reached my hand out to him, catching him by surprise.

‘You’re in a great mood’ he greeted me still laughing as he wrapped his arms around me.

I turned the volume down before speaking ‘You’re home early, how was your day?’

‘I wanted to see you’ came his reply before continuing ‘and your package has arrived’ he pointed to the two boxes that were at the doorway.

‘I finally have clothes’ I announced as I switched off the iron and all but ran to my packages.

‘I’m going to miss seeing you in my t-shirts’ Bradley said while looking at me.

It was then that I realized two things:
1. I hadn’t changed all day; and
2. I was going to miss being in his clothing

I pulled myself into Bradley for a kiss, my reaction taking him off guard. When we pulled away he looked around his living room in surprise.

‘Did you spend all day doing my laundry?’ he asked.

‘I sure did’ came my chirpy reply.

‘How can you be in such a good mood doing all that laundry?’ he was perplexed and I just laughed before replying ‘Bradley, I got to zone out for a few hours and finally do something for you’ and that was the truth, I was happy to be doing something for Bradley for a change.

‘But now, I want to open my packages’ I laughed as I pulled out my new clothing from the boxes.

As I was going through my purchases, I shifted my attention back to Bradley ‘How was work today?’ I asked, actually looking forward to hearing about his day and the business.

‘Pretty good. We had our meeting and all the managers reported positive results. Sales have landed a few large clients so we should see some great results this month. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the expenses and we’ve seen a huge drop there, so it looks like we’re on track for a strong month’ came Bradley’s reply.

‘That’s a fantastic turn-around’ I said feeling optimitic before remembering the invoices in his office that I’d seen earlier that day.

‘Actually, there will probably be a massive spike in your expenses’ I started before Bradley cut me off ‘Angel, even with the added security guards and cameras, we’ve seen a massive reduction in expenses, so don’t worry about that OK’. Did he just call me Angel? I wasn’t one for nicknames but this one was sweet.

‘I wasn’t even thinking of security’ I answered honestly ‘We still have all those invoices from last week, remember when I asked Leonard to sneak into the office and steal some files’ I added the last part to help jog Bradley’s memory.

‘I’ll need to hurry up and get those invoices processed. I can’t believe I forgot all about them’ Bradley added.

‘If it’s ok with you, can I look into them tomorrow. I still have my suspicions so I’d like to go through them one last time’ I asked and Bradley kissed me on the forehead.

‘Did you get hold of your Counsellor?’ he asked shifting the subject and I told him all about our talk. It was so nice having Bradley to talk to, I was really enjoying the honesty we shared.

‘Caroline did make a suggestion’ I added and Bradley nodded for me to continue ‘she’d like us to try recreating the events that lead to my nightmare. I know we can’t make a message appear, but if we can discuss the attack before bed, there’s a chance something in my subconscious might be triggered. And if I do wake up screaming, I’ll need you to come to me and ask me questions, rather than try and sooth me. I realise it's a tough ask, but I'll need you to confront me about my dream’.

‘Whatever you need I will do it. I’m just disappointed that I don’t get to lie down next to you’ he said as he pulled me onto his lap. We stayed in that position for a while before I got back to sorting through my new purchases and Brett made dinner.

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