“Lena! Lena! Elena!!”
Lena found herself back in the room, gasping for breath. She sat up straight, trying to steady herself with her hands, coughing and sputtering for air. She could still feel it – the darkness and the water closing in on her. The headlights of the car had flickered before dying out.
“You’re safe. You’re safe now, Lena,” she heard the man saying, “Here, have a sip of this.” He handed her a glass with clear liquid that tasted like burnt orange. “Feeling better?”
She nodded slightly, and handed the glass back.
“What did you see?”
“I…I don’t know.” She started to feel the panic rising again.
“Okay, okay,” he said, trying to soothe her, “Take a deep breath. Just…relax.”
She breathed in a long, ragged breath, and leaned back.
“Now, remember, you are safe here. When you are ready, just start anywhere…”
Elena took another deep breath, closed her eyes. “Think of me; think of this room to come back” she heard him say.
“I have no story to be told,” She began, “they are just…At first, I just thought they were dreams, you know. They seemed so…well, nothing like my life.”
“I mean, I live in an apartment. In fact, I’ve never lived in a house with a backyard, or a sandbox. I’d see toys, little buckets and shovels. I would wake up at the sound of a cat I don’t have. Flashes of dinners in ovens, open refrigerators, school buses…it was all so strange.
“Then, it started encroaching into my life, you know. I would have periods of time I couldn’t remember anything about, save for these images of a house with a backyard. No people. I never saw any children, or men or women. Just the house, and the things in it.
“Slowly, I started feeling things. A child tugging at my T-shirt, a man caressing the back of my neck, an ache in my stomach, a cut on my finger. I thought I was going crazy. Then it got worse.”
“You had the nightmare…?” he asked, softly.
“It was more than a nightmare. The only time that I’ve seen a full sequence of…of…,” she sighed, “I don’t know what to call it. But it was the only time it was not a series of broken images without a sequence,” she said, “And I didn’t just see it, I…” Elena struggled against the panic that was coming on again.
“Alright, alright, Lena. I know this is not easy for you. But I promise you, this is going to help. Why don’t you have another sip of this drink,” he said, offering her the glass again. “Come on, now,” he coaxed her, “just a little sip.”
“No,” she shook her head. “I can’t do this anymore. Not today. I…I can’t relive it.”
“But it wasn’t real, Lena. You said it yourself,” He said, trying to calm her down. “Whatever you saw…felt. You said, that it was nothing like your life.”
She shook her head no. It was not just a nightmare – the desperation she’d felt, the fear, the screams of agony. No. She shook her head. “No. I can’t. I just…I can’t. I can’t help feeling…”
“Alright, okay, okay,” the man said, “You don’t have to. We’ll stop. Okay? Calm down. You’re safe here, remember? Breathe…take a deep breath. There. Again…” His voice soothed her fraught nerves, and she felt herself calming down.
Ten minutes later, she was walking down the busy street in the fading light. The clouds shifted, casting an ominous shadow on the ground. The city was expecting rains, but that didn’t slow anyone down. Elena was still shaken from the session and just wanted to get home.
She looked over her shoulder. “No one is watching me,” she told herself. She had to believe that. She couldn’t keep living like this. She kept walking till she reached the bridge. She leaned against the railing and looked at the waters below her.
Her nightdress had got caught on the door stop. She tugged it free, ripping the hem, and ran to the end of the backyard. There, near the freshly planted rose bushes, she started digging with her bare hands.
Elena shook herself out of the vision. The bridge, the waters. This was real. She put on her headphones and turned up the volume till the music drowned out everything else.
At the other end, a car’s tires screeched, skidded dangerously close to oncoming traffic and flew off the bridge.
Word Count: 749