I haven’t slept for days and I’m terrified of falling asleep tonight. It’s my 30th birthday and tonight my dreams, whatever they happen to be, will come true. And I know they will be bad.
My friend Maggie dreamt her daughter to death. She woke up screaming to find her baby lying on the bedroom floor, dead. Trampled by unseen elephants. Ron’s wife left him, lured away by an imaginary man.
Some people wake up rich. Or beautiful. Or as a man when they used to be a woman. Some people get their wishes. But many more don’t. It all comes down to how well you can control your brain.
And mine refuses to submit.
I’ve tried sleeping pills. They make the nightmares worse. Eden drowns in the bath in front of me. Or falls from the play gym. Or is swallowed by a crocodile lurking in our back garden. I run, I scream, I try to save her but I can’t.
I’ve done the dream training. We all do. Pay for a counsellor, keep a dream journal, recognise my dream signs, strive for lucid dreams. I can remember them all right, that’s for sure, but whenever Eden creeps in, I can’t protect her, no matter how hard I try.
“Stop thinking about it,” Brent says. The same thing he’s said to me for weeks. “If that’s running through your brain before you go to sleep, you are more likely to dream about it.” It’s all right for him. He’s 38. His dreams came true before Eden was born, before he even met me. We were safe. His nightmares couldn’t hurt us.
I shouldn’t have had a baby before I turned 30 but the pregnancy wasn’t planned and I couldn’t bring myself to terminate.
I sit on Brent’s lap sobbing. “I can’t go to sleep, I can’t.”
He holds me and rocks me, like we used to rock Eden. “You have to. There’s no point fighting it. The more tired you are, the worse it’ll be.”
“I know.” He strokes my eyelids, heavy with fear.
“I love you. Whatever happens, I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” he whispers.
We hold hands and go to check on Eden. She is sleeping, wrapped in blankets, her teddies lined up beside her. I lay down next to her, kissing her head, breathing her in. For a long time, I lay there, being with my baby. “I love you more than anything,” I whisper in her ear.
Brent helps me up and half carries me to our bed. I lay down, shaking, and he smooths my hair and kisses my forehead.
“I’ll be right here,” he says. “Try to talk and I will help you.”
I nod into my pillow. “The music?”
He presses play on his phone and the sounds of Enya fill our room.
“And the smell?”
He lights a candle under a rose oil diffuser. Then he kisses my hand and starts talking. “Remember our trip to Dunk Island? There was a rose garden there, right in the tropics and it smelled so beautiful and the water was so warm and we swam and we danced…”
I am heavy and warm and then I’m on the beach, playing in the warm water with Brent. It’s our honeymoon and my skin buzzes whenever I touch him. He swims away, through the clear water, and I swim after him. A sea turtle pops up her head then dives back down among the fish. The turtle turns and swims towards me and she grows and lengthens and she is not a turtle anymore, she is a kraken, her mouth open wide to swallow me. I scramble in the water, kicking, turning, trying to move away from the monster. There is another body beside me in the water and our legs tangle and the monster’s mouth cracks down on a leg, which shatters in a crunch. It’s not my leg. Eden is screaming, “Mum, mum.” Blood is leaking out from the hole in her leg, swirling in the water. “Kraken,” I yell and Brent is there, punching the kraken in the face, gouging it’s eyes with his fingers and I pull Eden to the surface and swim her back to the shore. I lay her down on the sand and Brent presses rose flowers into her wound. “They will heal her,” he says. I frown. “The roses will heal her,” he says again and the beach fills with roses. I grab them and cover Eden’s leg with the flowers. The smell swirls around me, around us, and Eden sits up and smiles and reaches for my hand.
I wake. In my bed. Brent is holding my hand.
I run to Eden’s room and rip back her blankets. She is whole. She is alive. She opens her eyes. “Mum?” she says, groggily. I scoop her into my arms and hold her.
“What’s wrong?” she says.
“Nothing, my baby, nothing at all.”
You can find more of these stories in my book ‘five minute sci-fi stories’. It will be free all weekend on Amazon to celebrate Australian Father’s Day. Please share the link with anyone you think might like some free science fiction stories: https://www.amazon.com/five-minute-sci-fi-stories-one-ebook/dp/B074DTTGN6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504250859&sr=8-1&keywords=five+minute+scifi