As soon as my therapist sees me walking through the door, he knows I’ve got a dream story to tell him. We’ve been doing this for a year, now. He’s got enough material to make H.P. Lovecraft sound like Roald Dahl already, but my mind continues to frighten us both.
“You look like crap. Sit down,” he says, nodding at the sofa.
I sink into it, fingers splayed and registering the rough fabric. It’s something for me to hold on to while I dig into my memories of last night.
“Is your recorder on?” I ask at the same time as he puts the device on the coffee table between us, finger already pressing the record button. It makes my heart skip a beat. I don’t know why being recorded makes me so nervous. It’s good that someone else gets to hear the insanities coming out of my head. It’s… therapeutic. Go figure.
“Talk to me,” he says, thus signalling for the dam to break.
And oh, does it break…
“I had a difficult dream last night,” I start and follow up with a heavy sigh before I dive in. “It felt as though I had dreamed the same thing before. Perhaps I dreamed the same thing twice in one night, I thought…
The first time, people died. A lot of people. People I knew. People I was supposed to care about. They died. The villains got them. They had guns and time and a thought-out plan, while I was just shell-shocked and scared and crying and running around in a teary frenzy.”
My therapist offers a sympathetic smile. “You had a nightmare, then.”
“A dream, a nightmare… What’s the difference? What is a nightmare, anyway? What is the definition of a nightmare?”
“It’s something that frightens you,” he says. “Dark concepts that escape from your subconscious. Phobias. Regrets. Terrors. Nothing good. Nothing that will make you say… Ah, I wish I’d sleep some more. No, a nightmare makes you breathe with relief that you’ve awakened.”
It’s my turn to smile, but I have nothing of sympathy to offer. Just the bitterness of my truth. “Well, then, Doc… I guess you could say I had the mother of nightmares. You see, I couldn’t stop running in that first dream. I wasn’t even sure where I was in the beginning. I only knew it had been a…