Waiting on Morning

After the recurrence of her terrifying nightmares, Nebraska-native Maeva Blake has to find out why she's having them again. In the midst of be courted her charming Sebastian, Mae has to learn the truth about her gruesome dreams and their ominous messages. Unfortunately, she has to dig through her painful past to find her answers.

( Have an open mind going into this story! It can get a little vulgar and violent, sometimes even a bit risque. Comments, likes, critiques, all is welcome! Enjoy! )

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2. Fences

            “Alright, see you next Tuesday,” my astronomy professor shouted, catching the pear he tossed in the air and taking a hefty bite.

            Strolling out of the room, I decided that it was too nice outside to not take advantage of the weather, so I took the long way home.

            I meandered slowly, enjoying the brisk late autumn breezes. Thin, twiggy trees held beautiful arrangements of orange and yellow, the grounded leaves matching the hue of those still attached. The sky was a pale blue, almost gray in color; while the grass was still a healthy shade of green. I marveled in the simplicity of nature and how its existence is the sole source of its beauty.  As I walked further, the trees began to scatter and lessen in number, but grow in girth and height. The concrete path veered off and curved left as gravel crunched under my shoes to tell me half of my journey home was complete.

            It was days like this that I wholeheartedly missed my old life. As tacky as it sounded, too much had happened in the past three years for me to recover any part of who I was or what my family was. I miss how all of my extended family—maternal and paternal— could sit at a dinner table together around the holidays. I miss the Dr. Seuss style family gatherings: children running around, family member after the other filed on either side of a ridiculously long table, the heap of bodies sleeping all comfortably crammed into all rooms. I lost myself in the past, let the pit in my stomach sink deeper into the folds of my wounded spirit and bury it there to eat away at my recovery. My eyes welled, my breath hitched, my cheeks burned. I choked back the recollection of a better time and swallowed it into the pit to be burned away back into the black hole that was my childhood.

            Looking up at the sky, my feet dragged to a stop. I wondered how it was meant to be that I ended up here. What was my great purpose in life leading me here for? I always used to tell myself that my struggle through art was my purpose in life, to show my life story through what my hands could make. But that prophecy seemed forsaken. My eyes traced the edges of the large oak trees against the sky, hoping to find an answer in the jagged lines. Nothing. I felt heavy as my heart prayed, hoped, begged for an answer. No answer.

            “What am I here for?” I whispered under my breath.

            I heard a crunch of leaves to my left. I snapped my head in the direction of my curiosity, to be met by the smiling face of my handsome stranger. My expression must have reflected my bewilderment, judging by his smirk.

            “Surprise?” he shrugged, stepping closer through an archway of low hanging branches.

            “What are you doing here? Are you following me?” I accused, defenses high.

            “You know, you shouldn’t be so quick to judge people,” he assured. His confidence began to irk me. “My friends and I were just helping my roommate with his film project when I saw you. You looked really upset…” I looked up and met his eyes, emanating embarrassment for watching so intently, “and then you just stopped and looked up. I figured you might need someone to pull you back to Earth.” He flashed a bright half-smile.

            “Well,” I muttered finally after an awkward pause, “I appreciate that. Thanks,” I shoved my hands in my hoodie pocket and lifted my shoulders. After another awkward pause I nodded and dismissed myself. As I turned away and began to continue my walk home, he called after me. I rotated back slightly, enough to face him.

            “I never got your name. I’m Sebastian,” he gave a small bow. I had to admit, it made me chuckle.

            “Maeva. You can call me Mae. Nice to meet you, Sebastian,” I replied with a small smile playing on my lips.

            “Hopefully I will see you around,” he nodded casually, radiating pride for winning this round. I resumed my course and listened as he jogged back through the fallen leaves to his companions.

           

            I grasped the chain link fence and looked up at it desperately. My heart beat in my ears and I could hear my blood slosh around in my head. Frantically, I attempted to scale the fence, but as I continued upward, the top seemed unreachable. Each new step, each new grab, I felt barbs begin to poke and prod my skin. Tears rushed down my face as the barbs grew sharper and cut deeper into my flesh, blood oozing from my hands and feet as thick as molasses and as black as the night sky around me. I screamed with each advance I gave to the pinnacle of the barbed metal fence, now feeling the barbs carve at the sinew underneath the torn pink tissue in my hands. If I hesitated, I was sure the barbs could pierce straight through my hands and feet, leaving me immobile eternally. If I kept going, the barbs would continue to grow and sharpen, shredding my appendages until I fell to my death. Slowly reaching for the next link, my foot slipped. A barb caught my shin and tore a deep gash, sending excruciating waves of pain throughout my body. With half of me dangling like a deadweight corpse, my other hand that held to the barbed fence covertly sunk onto an entire thorn. In the bright moonlight, I could see the tip of the barb through the back of my hand. Weak from blood loss, I felt my grip ease and the weight of my body began to tear the barb through my hand. I howled in pain, only to lose the battle even more, the metal prong shredding through my hand between my knuckles like butter. I was already falling from the fence when I realized that I was done for. I watched as the top of the fence shrank in the distance, my heart pounding as I could feel my body accelerating at a terrifying speed. My powerless limbs drizzled blood into the air as I fell, my body slowly turning for me to meet my fate. I watched in terror as the ground rushed me. Right before my body collided with the ground, I slammed my eyes shut.

 

            I awoke with the wind knocked out of me. My heart pounded in my chest, my diaphragm continued to suspend my breathing. I stumbled out of bed, my hands feeling around me to lead my way through the darkness. I crawled to the door and thrashed my hands at the walls as I clawed the door handle to open it. I gave up as I heard rustling from my dad’s room, submitting to lying on the floor and awaiting a painful gust of air to find its way back into my lungs. Bright light flooded my eyes, my father scanning my face with fear in his; his image faded as I felt all the blood rush to my head. And then, all too quickly, my world grew black.

 

            My eyelids were too heavy; it took a few tries to open my eyes completely. I had to blink several times to restore clarity to my vision, since I could have been unconscious for a long while. What I expected to be my bedroom was in reality a stale hospital room. To my left, my vitals were stable and monitors notified me of my status. To my right, a tube connected from the IV in my hand to a pouch of liquid hung high above my head. As I spent a few more minutes acquainting myself with my surroundings, my father’s sleeping vessel sat in a chair. I searched warily for a clock and found an analog posted above the door on the left side of the room. My mind took a while to recall which hand meant what, but after sometime I came to the conclusion that it was seven forty. I debated whether it was in the morning or at night, based on how groggy my body felt. I concluded nothing. My attention floated back to my father, who was now rubbing his eyes and yawning powerfully. He blinked in my direction, his expression lighting up when he realized I had regained consciousness.

            “Thank God,” he gushed. Reaching my side, he pushed away the stringy hair that framed my exhausted face. “How are you feeling?”

            “Like shit, if I’m to be honest with you,” my voice admitted coarsely. My throat felt oddly dry, I internally questioned my time spent comatose.

            “I don’t doubt that; you were out for a good eleven hours,” he replied, answering my subliminal question.

            “Eleven? How is that possible?” I readjusted myself to sit upright. It was a feeble attempt, accompanied by a cacophony of grunts.

            “Well, when I got to you, you were hardly breathing. And then you fainted. I called 911, and you were still having trouble breathing by the time they came. I couldn’t ride in the ambulance with you, so I followed them. You were already in an emergency room by the time I burst into the building, and nurses were rushing everywhere, I couldn’t get any answers. After about three hours, they finally told me you were okay.” I had a hard time following his rambling, but I was able to catch most of it. I considered what I still remembered: stumbling out of bed, clawing at my door handle, seeing the petrified look on my dad’s face.

            “So, what happened?”

            He sighed and rubbed his scalp, “You had a panic attack. It caused your diaphragm to collapse, keeping you from breathing. Since you weren’t getting oxygen when the blood rushed to your head, your body shut down to recover. They weren’t too worried about you not waking up; they were actually pretty dead-set on you coming back in a couple hours. But they said you’d be a little out of it.”

            “A panic attack?” was all I could muster out.

            “Had another nightmare, huh, kiddo?”

            I nodded.

            “What happened this time?” he asked, positioning himself to face me better.

            I thought hard to recall what I could, “I was climbing a fence.”

            “That’s it?”

            “I fell really far. I woke up when I was supposed to hit the ground.”

            “I could see how that would send you into a panic attack.”

            My head grew heavy, and I started to nod off.

            “I’ll let you sleep.”

            “No—“ I grabbed his arm as he lifted himself off my hospital cot, “I just really want to eat.”

            His face filled with a warm, close-mouthed smile. “I’ll see what I can do.”

 

            “Watch your step,” he said, holding my elbow while gently lifting me from the car. I climbed out of the passenger seat, much stronger than my dad gave me credit for.

            “Dad, I’m fine,” I chuckled.

            “Humor me, will you.”

            “Okay.”

            He led me inside and sat me down on the couch. “How does a grilled cheese sound?”

            “Fantastic,” I said enthusiastically, after having two hospital meals that were less than satisfying. I flicked on the television, searching mindlessly through channels of reality shows, to finally come across an episode of Life on Animal Planet. My father could hear Oprah Winfrey’s distinctive voice and hollered from the kitchen to remind me that my taste in television was odd for my age. Before I got too far into the rainforest, my father comes out with a fresh plate of grilled cheese. I sat up and thanked him for the food. We toasted with our halves of greasy sandwiches and ate silently in the presence of educational television.

 

            I smoothed out my polo as I tucked it into my black slacks and tightened the thin black leather belt that held the both the top and bottom articles of clothing into place. I glanced at my appearance: dark circles loomed under my eyes from lack of sleep and energy, skin was paler than usual, and clothes hung a slight bit looser on my usually stocky frame. Unsatisfied with the reflection in the mirror, I slung a color-appropriate zip up over one shoulder and my leather bag over the other.  I darted out of my room and shouted my leave for work throughout the condominium to let my dad know of my disappearance for once.

            It had been a couple days since I came back from the hospital. I was able to catch up on my missed classes and homework from the day and a half that I spent mildly incapacitated. It felt good to be heading off to work, even though it was just manning the counter at a local gym. My boss was really understanding of my situation, being at a health center and all. I was grateful that my superior found it more important to regain my strength before coming in. After all, the healthier the employees, the better image for the business.

            In a short thirteen minutes, I entered the building through the side door that employees were required to use. I clocked in and made my way to the front desk. Joey, my closest co-worker, glanced in my direction and lit up, as he hadn’t seen me in what would be a solid five days since I had worked with him last.

            “Well would you look what the cat dragged in!” he exclaimed, nothing louder than the quick-paced covers of pop music that droned from all directions. I smiled an honest smile.

            “Hey there, Joey, long time no see,” I commented, placing my bag under the counter in a cabinet.

            “So,” he paused to smile at a member and scan their I.D. “What the hell happened to you?” he quizzed, making sure that his volume did reach anyone but me.

            “I had a pretty gnarly panic attack,” I admitted, drumming my hands on the counter, smiling at avid members that would walk by drenched in sweat.

            “Holy shit, like, the real deal, huh? I didn’t know you got those,” he muttered, smacking his gum a bit. “What happened? Like what made you freak out?”

            “I used to get pretty intense nightmares. They started up again,” I replied, offering very little information, “…kind of.” I added.

            “Kind of, what do you mean kind of?” Joey was one to know all about anyone that stepped foot in the building. Raised in a not-so-affluent neighborhood in Boston, he quite often acted like he walked right out of a Jersey Shore episode. Of course, his accent was heavily Bostonian, rather than the nasally sound commonly associated with that show. But that was Joey: flamboyant and openly melodramatic.

            “The dreams I used to have— hi there, have a good work out— the ones I used to have I could control. They’re called lucid dreams. But in these ones, I don’t even realize they’re dreams.”

            “Are you serious? So, are you like some kind of psychic or something?”

            I laughed, “No, I’m not psychic. After going through what I have, I guess my dreams became the only avenue for me to control my life. Most of what happened to me was out of my control; like external influence kind of thing.” I smiled as more guests walked around the booth and asked for passes to the next Zumba class.

            “Here you go, hon—“ he refocused his voice to our conversation, “you know, in the year that I’ve worked with you, I still know hardly anything about you. Usually, I can crack a bitch open like that,” snapping his fingers with flair, “but you… You’re one person I just can’t seem to pick apart.”

            I shrugged, “I’m just really private. That’s all.” I gave him a weak smile.

            He narrowed his eyes at me, “No, sweetheart, you’re hiding something. Something juicy,” he grabbed his lanyard with his keys on it, “and I’ll get it out of you sooner or later. Just you wait! I’m taking off, I’ll catch you later, babe,” he hollered, waving royally back in my direction. I laughed and shook my head. As I spent the rest of my shift solitude, I mulled over what Joey had said. He knew everything about everyone in that building; even Marvin, the sixty-five-year-old technician that hung around in case one of the machines acted up. Yet he didn’t know anything about me, except that I lived with my dad in a condominium about two miles away from there. No one knew anything about me. I kept a very reserved life, no real friends or even acquaintances other than a handful of coworkers and a couple classmates. They had asked in the past what my story was, but that’s not something I was willing to just throw out at people. That’s too dangerous.

            While my shift drew to a close, I ran through the standard closing regime: clean down machines, reset programs, check for malfunctioning machines, restoring all the weights to their proper places, same with the mats, steps, and so on and so forth. I engaged in the normal banter with Carlos, the late-night trainer, keeping each other company in the spacious building as I closed up for the night. After locking up, I clocked out and walked out with Carlos.

            “So, you walk home every day?” He asked, concern tainting his voice.

            “Yeah. It’s only a fifteen-minute walk. All the streets I take are lit up the entire way home, too,” I reassured.

            “You’re sure you don’t want a ride? It’s on the way to my place, I really don’t mind.”

            “I really appreciate it, Carlos, but since I don’t really work out other than my daily walking to and from place to place, I think it’d be in both of our best interests to let me walk, “ I professed with a smile, walking backwards to face him. “Good night!” I turned back around in the direction of home. Just as I assumed, I returned home in the scheduled thirteen minutes, safe and sound.

            I scaled the stairs to the front door, unlocked it, and went inside. It was pitch black inside, so I relied on my subconscious knowledge of the building to make it to my room. After closing my bedroom door behind me, I removed my starchy work clothes and slithered into my bed, curling up underneath the warm sanctity of my blankets. Being on my feet for about ten hours straight had drained the smallest reserve of energy I had left, and I drifted into the first night of serene sleep in roughly a week.

 

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