As said, I'm finally writing my story. Everyone has one. This is mine.
The image of my father standing in his pajama pants and gray t-shirt caused me to cry out in terror. I fell to my knees, face in hands, trying to scream all the while heaving to catch my breath. My body was shaking and my stomach clenched to that of a thousand sit-ups. They had possession of him and regardless of my cries, my father wouldn’t look at me. There was nothing I could do. I searched the crowd for a familiar face; any familiar face and to my devastation, I only saw hundreds of mechanical looking people standing in a circle holding hands. Surrounded by a large warehouse, lights shone from every direction as if we stood on a platform meant for stage. In the middle, raised slightly above the sea of robots, there was a large guillotine. It was a piercing sound, the chanting. Loud and strong, they kept saying over and over, “Kill him. Kill him. Kill him.”
Fear overtook my body and I finally snapped out of my trance. I lifted my heavy legs and feet and ran to him, pushing through the locked hands and touched him on his shoulder. He turned to see me, not moved by the emotion in my eyes. His eyes were blank and he possessed a smile that wasn’t fitting of him. I grabbed his hands and pulled them up to chest level, pleading with him, “Don’t let them do this, I need you! You can’t leave me here alone, you’re the only dad I've got. I can't live without you. Why are you letting them do this?!” I stood and waited what seemed like minutes for his response. Finally he let out with a staunchly lifeless tone, “Anna, it’s my time. They’ve heard from God. If I don't listen to what they're telling me, your life, your children's lives and their children's lives will be in danger of a curse that cannot be undone."
I could feel my body flare up into a sweaty panic. The fact that I couldn’t make a sound told me there was nothing I could do about it and that sent my body into an even deeper state of panic. My teeth clenched together, grinding hard; the pain was too much, but I had to try to convey my anger. Frustration was exploding throughout my nervous system and my fingernails were digging deep into my hands. It was the sound of a truck honking its horn while it sped down the road that so startlingly broke me from my sleep. Another nightmare.
It was 5:32 a.m. and the sun hadn’t donned my window, yet. I was alone in a strangely new apartment. Sitting up slowly, I pushed my body up with my weak arms and pressed my back against the cool wall, bringing me back to the present moment. Images of the nightmare set in and complete devastation welled up inside me. I resumed heaving empty breaths, trying to compose my anxious body. I reached down with slow, definite movements, pulling the covers away from my sweat drenched body and crawled off the bed, hands first, fearing my shaking, weak legs wouldn’t hold me. I needed to find my cell phone. Only his voice would assure me it was just a dream.
Concentrating on the number of rings, I tried calming my breathing. My heart was pounding about 160 beats per minute and I feared I wouldn’t be able to get my words out. A groggy voice answered the phone – mom. I told her I’d had another nightmare and needed to talk to dad. She didn’t ask. This wasn’t the first time I’d called at an off hour needing peace and reassurance. The routine of all this was making me angry, but this was my life and the acceptance of it wasn’t coming easily.
It had been a year, three months and 9 days since the Great Break and I thought for sure it would all be over by now. Apparently not. It was like a cruel joke that they followed me around in my memories, invaded my dreams and spoke to me in my thoughts. This was supposed to be my life now. Was moving to a completely foreign city not enough? Was leaving everyone and everything I’d ever known behind me worthless? Were the endless nights crying myself to sleep too easy? What more could I do? How much longer must I pay the price for your mistakes? I’d asked myself these question a million times, never to receive an answer, only more confusion. People have told me "Just get over it. It's the past. It's over. Move on." What the fuck do you think I'm trying to do? I can't help what happens in my sleep and it lives with me during my days.
His voice was tired, “Hello?” My breath shook as I answered, “Sorry Dad.” I took another deep shaky breath. “You know I don't care, Anna. You can call me anytime. That's what dad's are for.” I could hear the smile in his voice and as always it was filled with peace and all the sincere care of a father who loved his daughter. I knew this and never doubted its truth. I proceeded gasping for air, trying not to break down, but it didn’t work. The sound of his voice was a continuous reminder that I’d hurt him so many years ago. “I had another nightmare.” I said, trying to steady my voice, “They were going to kill you and you told me it was your time and to just let you go.” I knew in my mind it was ridiculous, but the very depths of my soul felt the emotions so dominantly. “Anna, no one is going to kill me. No one can tell me it’s my time to die. I’m alive!” I couldn't help but chuckle; he was kidding with me, knowing it was what I needed.
My heart sank at the thought that I was acting like such a child. My body and mind were starting to wake up and the very practical, realist side of my personality was starting to feel really silly. Of course it was just a nightmare. I was 27 years old, calling my dad because I had a nightmare. I needed help. The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder wasn’t going away. I’d started my Master’s in Counseling 3 months prior to this night; so much for being a counselor. I couldn’t even sleep through the night without needing to crawl in bed with mom and dad. Some would say it was justified, but I still heard the expectations of others to 'just get over it'. I didn’t know if the world would see my story through eyes of empathy or judgment and that terrified me. It was my story, not theirs and I wouldn’t blame them for not understanding. Clearly I needed my own counselor. I called one later that morning.