Her eyes popped open and met complete darkness. Heart racing, for no reason she could discern, she turned her head and looked at the clock. 3:33 am. It must have been a nightmare that woke her up. Fortunately, she couldn’t remember it. She threw the covers back and walked to the bathroom. When she flipped the light switch, nothing happened.
“Probably a dead bulb,” she thought to herself as she sat down.
She flushed the toilet and headed back to bed. Half way there, she stopped, frozen by fear. The hair on her body stood on end and she suddenly felt cold, as if she had stepped out into the frozen night without a coat. Though she couldn’t rationalize the terror that was growing inside, she sensed something evil near her. She started to run towards the safety of her bed when a dark figure appeared before her. It reached out with huge, disfigured arms, trying to drag her into its body. She slipped to the side and began to run out of the room.
She opened her mouth to scream for her husband, but no sound came out. She tried again, the sound barely audible. She ran for the front door, frantically reaching to undo all the locks. The monster grabbed her and turned her around.
She sat straight up in bed, panting and sweating. She hated that nightmare. She turned and tapped her husband on the shoulder. Her blood turned to ice when he turned towards her and saw that it wasn’t her husband in bed next to her. It was the monster, who grabbed her and opened his mouth, prepared to eat her alive.
“Shit,” she yelled as she woke up.
“You had the dream again, didn’t you?” her husband asked tiredly as he rolled over.
“Yeah, and you were the monster again,” she said.
“Well, did I get you or did you escape?” he asked, laughing.
Kathy had been having these dreams for over 15 years. They started when she was in high school. In those, the monster was always hiding in her room, and when she called for her mom or dad, they never answered. Over the years, she had grown used to them, if you could ever get used to such nightmares. She knew that when she couldn’t turn the light on, the monster would make its appearance. She knew she would wake up in bed, but that she’d still be in the nightmare and the monster would come back.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if she only had them occassionally, but this one recurred several times a week, almost every week. In college, she had learned how to dream lucidly and could eventually control them…to a point. She could at least tell her dream self that she was in the dream and to get ready. She had also learned to dig her thumbnail into her leg to check if she was awake or not. If she could feel it, great. If not, she knew she was still stuck in the dream. Some nights, it took four or five tries to finally get out of it. She always woke up tired after those nights. And the face of the monster was never visible enough to identify.
One evening, she was sitting on the couch reading when a sudden realization hit her. It had been over a year, and she hadn’t had the nightmare at all.
Turning to her love, she said, “Do you know that it’s been a year since I had the nightmare?”
“Really? After all those years, suddenly it just stopped?”
“Yeah. I just realized it sitting here.”
“Hmm. Can you think of anything that would have made it stop?”
“Actually, I can. Promise not to laugh? It might sound a little crazy…”
“I promise. What’s your theory?”
“I came out of the closet. I was the monster all along,” she said to her partner.