“Sleeper, Awaken!”

As young as I am, I often dream about death. When I was a child, I prayed the Lord would take me in my sleep so I’d feel no pain. Mom said if you’re a Christian, it won’t hurt, but I wouldn’t take any chances. Let Him come while I’m lying in the grass, counting bunnies on clouds, blowing powdered sugar from picnic pastries into the wind.

We have so little control over what happens to us in our sleep, even less over what we do.

Do we snore (apparently I do); twitch or kick (I’ve been told I do that too); talk in our sleep (my dad once asked my brother to take out the trash and yelled for him to get off his motorcycle all while lying comfortably in his bed, eyes shut, drool collecting at the corner of his mouth); or do we sleep walk (maybe . . . at least once)?

I could blame it on being more tired than I realized, or being traumatized when How to Get Away with Murder revealed Wes, with half his face blown off, #UndertheSheet. (God, I was so sure it was Nate! Why, Shonda?! Wes was the main character, the first person we were introduced to in season 1, episode 1. I’m not used to this. I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal. I don’t know the torment your fans go through on a weekly basis!)

I guess I should’ve added a spoiler alert before that last point, but if you haven’t seen the How to Get Away with Murder winter finale by now, then too bad. It’s Tuesday, man.

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I used to date a guy who often joked about coming to my house late at night, watching me sleep through my bedroom window. He had a very dark sense of humor, and while some girls might have laughed (albeit uncomfortably), I found it extremely creepy. Especially since my ex before him used to stalk me, and going back to my very first job, I had a manager who texted me one night at 3AM wanting to “feel what it’s like to be inside you,” telling me that he was on his way over, and I needed to come outside when he flashed his headlights. I was sixteen. He was twenty-one.

This is the crop of men I seem to attract . . .

And most recently, the security guard at my job, who slowly looks me up and down before speaking to me, said, “I didn’t know you were a Dallas Cowboys fan.” I was not wearing my Cowboys jacket that day. Of course, he could’ve just remembered that I wore it the day before, but a more eerie thought crossed my mind . . .

That he was in my bedroom that night . . .

You see, Friday morning I woke up lying on the opposite end of my bed, on top of the covers, my bedroom door wide open, the overhead light shinning in my face.

That was not how I’d fallen asleep. I was under the covers. I’m pretty sure. I’d turned off my light. I remember making that extra effort of getting up out of my warm bed and walking across the room to flick the switch. It wasn’t a dream. And I always close my door at night. Always. Because I don’t like waking up and seeing shadows from the hall. Shadows of mysterious men creeping into my room . . .

I’m a writer, so my mind is working in overdrive churning off stories of what could have happened Thursday night as I slept. But I think I’ve finally figured it out.

I read a book before turning in for the night. A novel that completely spooked me. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. And at the end, the ghostly diary writer, Sara Harrison Shea, gave us the instructions for bringing a “sleeper” back to life.

It all makes sense to me now. I rose from my bed in a trance, gathered the ingredients I needed—a candle, a fresh heart, something that belonged to the deceased—ventured out into the night to find a portal between the natural and spiritual realms, chanted the incantation, and brought Wes back to me.

That scratching outside my door, like a small critter digging its claws into the frozen dirt, trying to escape from the chill of the air, it’s him, it’s Wes Gibbins, wanting to be let inside.

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