I’m suddenly awake just after 4 a.m. and I don’t know why. I’m half asleep but I have a desperate need to remember what I’m feeling and what just happened.
Wait. Did something happen? Did it really? I guess not — not entirely — but something seems so real. Maybe surreal is the word. My brain is half asleep, but my heart — spirit? soul? — has something to say.
No, that’s not quite right. It has something to feel. To share. What is the feeling? Quick, before it’s gone. Find the words. What is this? What happened?
I woke up confused. I was turned around on my bed the wrong way. I was confused about where I was. I thought I was somewhere else, but where?
Everything around was dark but there was diffused light. The kind when there’s fog everywhere and the air is heavy. I sensed danger. I was afraid. I felt shame for being afraid. I was in danger, but I was worried about her. She was the one in mortal danger. She wasn’t going to die, but her heart was being consumed. The beast was consuming her — and then she would be gone.
Even though I’m awake now, I’m still falling back to sleep. I don’t know what I need to say, but something needs to come out. I have no idea why.
When I became re-oriented enough to know where I was, I picked up my iPhone — from the far corner of the bed where it charges every night and serves as my nighttime clock — to see what time it is. But when I touched the button to light the screen, I found an email.
In my sleep — in my dream? in half-waking state? I don’t know — I had typed a short email to her. I was relieved that I hadn’t sent it. I don’t talk to her anymore. I can’t. It hurts too much. But there was the note. How can I type full sentences — complete with punctuation and proper capitalization and AP style — while I’m asleep?
I’ve been writing in my waking state — and maybe in my sleep — for so many years that it’s the only way I know. And now I’m wondering why I was warning her.
I suddenly recognized this place. That creature lived in the tunnel up ahead. He scared me. He hated me and he wanted to kill me. He didn’t want to kill her, but what he wanted for her was worse than death.
He wanted to consume her. He wanted to take her soul. He wanted to take the last parts of her that hadn’t been eaten and he wanted to erase them from existence, leaving a changeling which looked like her and acted like her, but had no soul or joy or even the ability to feel pain. Much less love. He wanted to consume everything that made her real. He wanted to replace her heart with stone. He was evil.
I don’t know why I feel so shaken. I feel out of control. If I’m honest with myself, that’s one of the things I fear most. I fear being out of control and looking foolish. Yet here I am floating through raging emotions as I fight drifting back to sleep and I feel utterly carried away by something I can’t control.
I don’t want to look at this. I don’t want to feel this. I want the fear and need and love to be gone. But why did I say “love”? I have no idea, but that’s what the feeling said. What is this I’m feeling? And why is my heart pounding as I drift between wakefulness and sleep?
The beast knows I’m here!
He sees me, but he’s not coming after me. He’s laughing at me. He wants me dead, but he wants me alive right now. He wants me to hurt first. He wants me to know he’s consumed all of her and taken away everything pure that she was. That gives him satisfaction in a dark and evil way.
It’s cold and the fog is thick and humid. Her heart is fading. If it stops, she will be nothing but stone. All will be lost. Then the beast will try to kill me, after I know she’s taken — consumed and replaced by something which can’t feel or love.
Love? Wait. What does love have to do with this? What good is that against the beast? I don’t know. I do something stupid and ridiculous.
I step out of the fog and into the flickering light at the mouth of the entrance to where the beast is. She’s inside, beyond him. She’s fading. He sees me step forward, but he only watches.
“I love you,” I say with a shaky voice.
I feel something shift in the ground beneath, but it’s nothing much.
“I love you!” I shout it this time, my voice stronger. “Do you hear me? I love you and I’m not giving you up!”
The ground was shaking now. Everything around me was changing. The stone of this place — mountain? castle? whatever — was changing. It was glass now. It was brittle. It was shaking.
“Do you hear me?” I’m shouting. The beast looks panicked. His world is starting to crumble. I’m talking to her, but I have no idea whether her heart is too far gone to hear me. Maybe she’s consumed already. Maybe it’s too late.
“I love you! Don’t let him consume you! Please, hear me!”
The glass is breaking. The entire place is falling apart. What was an impregnable stone fortress a moment ago is brittle and breaking. The beast is afraid. He’s trying to fly off, but he’s leaving her behind.
The ground is breaking underneath me now, too. Everything is clear glass. I can see through everything — like a magnificent crystal palace breaking apart — but it’s falling apart too quickly. We’re falling, but I have no idea where I will land — or if there’s anything left of her heart.
I don’t know what happened to me. I don’t know why I’m awake. I don’t know why I want so desperately to remember these feelings. Part of me wants to go to sleep and forget. Even though it’s a bit cool in here, I’m sweating on the sheets.
I don’t need to think this time. I just need to feel. I don’t need to plan. I just need to experience whatever is coming out.
What is this rushing through my heart and mind and soul like the blast of an emotional explosion? Why am I feeling this?
I know it will be gone in the morning. That’s why I’m struggling to say as much about it as I can now. I need to remember. I need to feel this. I need to know … something.
I look outside my window, but I see nothing. There are no stars or moon. It’s cloudy, so it’s pitch black. There’s no light to save me from my feelings. I could turn on a light switch and bring myself back to rational reality — one where I’m not forced to feel all this — but then I will lose something which I can’t bring back.
I will sleep now. When I wake, it will be light outside. The day will be just as usual and everything will return to normal. I might remember that I had a strange night, but the feelings will be gone.
It’s the feelings I need to hold onto. I don’t know why. Even as I say this, I have no idea what it means. I just know the feelings might save me. Might save her. That doesn’t even make sense. But I saw the glass shatter. The beast is afraid of love.
Sleep comes now. I hope peace comes with it. I close the curtain on this strange night. This strange experience.
But I know I have to hold onto something of it. I have to give it away. I have to express it. Even though I don’t understand it. In the power of this love, there is the hope of redemption. I have to guard that hope in my heart.
Now I sleep. I hope there’s peace.