Rachel Varro

Good Night, Sleep Tight

“I feel we should talk about what you’re doing.”

“Talking about what I’m doing would suggest there’s something wrong with it.”

“You’re pacing back and forth, touching everything around the room. Are you avoiding talking today?”

“You should clean your office more often.” She grins looking at the dust on her index finger, before wiping it off on the thigh of her pants.

He palms to the seat across him, “Please, sit.”

She takes a seat on his slightly unaligned couch, making direct eye contact to the intriguing man sitting across her. She lets out a deep sigh.

She adjusts the pillows to soothe her lower back, “I feel like shit, doctor.”

“Did you not sleep good last night?” He asks.

“Eh, if I had slept.”

“So, Vera, what kept you awake?”

“I keep having this same dream over again each night.” She sighs.

“We can discuss it if you’d like.” He offers.

“When you start talking about something, it makes it real.”

“Only if you’d like.” He insists.

She lets out a deep breath then pauses for a moment, “I walk in my apartment, it’s dark. I hadn’t been home all day, and when I get home, I try turning on the hallway lights, but my switch keeps flickering. I must remind myself to tell maintenance to fix this. I walk down the hallway towards my bedroom. My door’s cracked open; I push it slowly. I can hear it’s piercing loud creak. It’s the same creak made when you were a child, awake in the night when you shouldn’t have been, and you’re tiptoeing barefoot on old wooden floorboards trying not to wake your sleeping father.”

“Did you do that as a child? Tiptoe in the night not to wake up your father?” The doctor interrupts.

“Of course,” Vera smugly said. “I open the door, my bedrooms lit up red. The rocking chair is in the corner of my room as it always is, but only this time it’s different. I find myself falling in my body. I’m screaming at myself “DON’T WALK TOWARDS IT,” but I can’t seem to listen to my own voice. I’m fading out. The longer I stare, the clearer my vision becomes. It’s as if I was under a trance—hypnotized to see what it wanted me too. The darkness grew in the corner of the room and soon took the body of a man, rocking back and forth in the chair. I’m looking through him, and the longer I do, the more I can feel my insides boiling. He’s a nasty toxin, yet I’m pulled to him as if he’s an antidote to cure a life-threatening disease. I can hear my blood seethe inside my body, it’s the penetrative whistle of a teakettle when fully boiled. As I reach the front of the chair, he began to stand up. He was so tall he hunched over me, and the closer he got, the more warped my room behind him became.”

“Warped in what ways?” the doctor questions.

“The walls are moving in two separate directions. All in a matter of seconds, the clear picture I saw before instantaneously became fuzzy until it was merely complete darkness. The man reached his long-left arm in front of my face that with his palm alone he had covered my eyes, nose, and mouth. My entire essence in his control. Suddenly I became like the rocking chair; he rocked me back and forth two times, and on the third time, he only rocked me backward, and then he let go. I was left falling; reaching out in front of myself yet unable to land. I felt my heels hit the ground first, and it started the chain reaction to my cracking body. I became a statue that when knocked over completely shatters. I shattered into a million pieces, and all that was left of me was dust.

Then I woke up.

Gasping for air and choking in a cold sweat. I couldn’t breathe. I have no idea who this man is. I’ve had this same dream persistently. I’m scared to know who he is and what he has in store for me next. I’m afraid to sleep, and I am petrified to finish my nightmare.”

“What do you think will happen when you finish your dream?” the doctor asks.

“I don’t think I’ll wake up again.”

She drove home after her appointment with the sun beginning to set. She took the elevator up to her floor and watched the numbers go up until it stopped at level four, where she got off. She stood in front of her door, nervously. Vera struggled to try to get her key to unlock her front door, but finally once she got it to open, she just stared into the dark abyss that was her reality, reached in and to the left and flicked on the lights. Vera collapsed on her bed, staring at the ticking clock on her wall. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. The ticks became deep and got slower as if time itself was coming to a halt, and she closed her eyes and begins to dream.

“Hello, doctor. I brought us both some coffee. Here!” Vera places both coffees on the table, “I want to tell you that I had more of the dream last night.” She spoke frailly as she walks across his office, “I just couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.”

“I’m happy the pills are working for you.” He says jotting down words on a big notepad. She picks up his framed degree:

‘The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Everett James Browning, M.D.’

“You misunderstood me; I didn’t ask for help sleeping.” She places the degree down, “Bad dreams happen when I sleep. I’m tired of bad dreams.”

He irritably asks, “What happened this time?”

There was a long pause before she spoke. “The beginnings always the same, but this time as I approached my bedroom door, I heard muttering in my head: “Don’t go into the red room… don’t go into the red room… DON’T GO INTO THE RED ROOM!”  I open the door fast. I could see the rocking chair in the corner of the room rocking back and forth, but this time nobody’s sitting there—”

“That’s good, Vera!” Dr. Brown interrupts.

“I suppose it was good, but as I said, nobody is sitting there, but the chair was rocking; therefore, he was there.

I was frozen in place. My eyes rocked with the rhythm of the chair. Back and forth. When you stare at something for long enough, your vision overlaps itself, and when this happened, the room turned blue with a cooling mist to it. My jaw was slightly cocked, and I could see my breath creep out of my mouth. I thought to myself that I must’ve left the AC too low, forgetting I was actually tossing in my sleep. Along my arms were goosebumps the size of mountaintops as I felt a cold breeze hit the back of my neck, but only there wasn’t a window open, and it wasn’t a breeze either, it was cold breath. Like my own breath coming out of my mouth, I saw someone else’s breath creep by my own to the front of my face. I slowly turned around only to be lifted off the condensation filled floor and viciously thrown to the other side. I remember I hit my head on the bed frame. I landed on my back, and there I saw the man standing at the edge of my bed, gawking at my paralyzed body with his head slowly-tilting-sideways. I tightly closed my eyes, hoping for this to end when I felt a slow caress of fingertips from my ankle up towards my knee. I opened my eyes immediately and flung my torso up, screaming “STOP IT!” realizing I have woken myself up again. This is why I’m here twice this week; when I woke up this morning, I had a boulder-sized knot on the top of my head. Dr. Brown, could this be a figment of my imagination?”

“No Vera, I don’t feel that you are imaging this man in your room. I do believe that you believe he is there. However, at times, visual parts of the brain can actually be deprived of input, and they become hungry for any type of stimulation and can concoct images of their own. The visual hallucinations that you see are a normal part of your genetic makeup. As long as your sightings are unthreatening to yourself or anyone else, they are part of your consciousness. I understand that sometimes you feel slightly insane and even anxious at times, that is why we have these sessions; I am here to help you feel less frightened. What I am going to recommend that you can try is perhaps rearrange your bedroom furniture or even move the rocking chair out of your room. You can let me know if this helps in our next session. I know this might not be the answer you are looking for Vera, but at this time this is the best solution I can offer. I think you should give it a try. If you need anything before our next session, please call. If not, I will see you Thursday afternoon. How’s three o’clock?”

Vera nods her head yes.

Perhaps the rain hit harder tonight on the windows, or the thunder shook the building a little rougher than it usually does, or maybe it was the angle of the rocking chair as it faced the bed she lay, but something in Vera’s presence tonight made it harder for her to keep her eyes shut.

There was an old saying that you can get your best night’s sleep during a thunderstorm, but I think I disproved that one.

Thursday couldn’t have come soon enough, an entire week had gone by, and Vera dragged herself to see the doctor.

“Vera, hi! How has your week been?” Dr. Brown smiles.

“Better…doctor. I brought you some coffee. Two sugars and extra cream, just like you like it.” Vera wittingly smirked.

“Oh thanks, Vera. And that’s really good, I’m glad. Did you move your furniture around like I suggested?”

“No, I didn’t.” Vera says, “Dr. Brown, I have some good and bad news.”

“Vera, of course,” said the doctor as he sipped his steaming hot coffee, leaving a dab of whipped cream on his upper lip, “what happened?”

“I think my dreams have come to an end. Would you like to know why?”

As Dr. Brown places his coffee cup on his desk, he put his hands behind his head and stretched back, rocking in his fancy leather office chair, “Go on Vera…I’m listening.”

“Well, you see this is where I struggled to make sense of my situation. Restlessness, anxious, scared to fall asleep, scared to be asleep, the dreams, these nightmares, these nightmares!” Vera clenched her fists tightly as she stared stone-faced at Dr. Brown, “Even now I think I must’ve missed something. My dream started where it left off. I was screaming at the darkness telling it to let go of me, and I made it angry. This thing doesn’t like me engaging with it. It wants me submissive to the horror it’s putting me through. Doc, I can’t just lay here and let somebody hurt me. I have to get away, I have to fight back, I have to WAKE UP!”

Vera then stands up and reaches in front of Dr. Brown. She gently wipes the whipped cream off his upper lip. Vera begins to pace.

“What I’ve noticed about this shadow of a man invading my dreams is that he doesn’t want me to see his face.”

“Vera,” Dr. Brown places his arm across her stomach, stopping her in place. “Please, have a seat.” He lowers his arm and Vera walks back to her seat and seeps into the couch.

She continues, “As I sat on the edge of the bed it pounded its fists hard grasping the covers with its fingers, clenching the covers tighter with each pound, making me tremble and quietly weep. As I laid there, my body was in a state of uncontrollable twitching and shaking, I was terrified. From the bottom of my feet to the top of my head he gradually peaked at every inch of me. As he was doing this, he took one of his hands and turned my head to face the pillow, shielding my eyes. Even though my eyes are covered by the pillow, I can still see his silhouette.” Vera stood up again, disobeying what Dr. Brown politely asked, “The touch is so familiar. The smell of them is something I’ve known before.” Vera circles around again, “My heart was beating hard as he crept over me. My hands were so clammy, I couldn’t grip my sheets. I heard the piercing raindrops coming down with the sound of unearthing thunder.”

Dr. Brown coughs and loosens the tie around his neck.

“Doctor, at the same moment, lightning illuminated the entire room. This thing got startled by the bright light and hesitated for a moment. I knew it would be my only chance to break its hold while it was distracted, so I pulled away as fast as I could to break free from the clench of his powerful grip. As I did, I saw him.” Vera glaringly stares out the office window, “You know quite well who I saw, Doctor.”

“Vera…” The doctor says, standing up, wheezing, “I…” Pointing to Vera, Dr. Brown fell forward on the floor. She slowly walks towards the doctor gasping for air and holding onto his chest.

“I couldn’t place the familiarity for so long, doctor. The way the figure sat in the rocking chair initially, facing me. The smell as we came together. It is all so clear now.” Vera says, looking down at her hands, “It was here all along.” Vera crouches down on the floor next to Dr. Brown’s seizing body. She gently grabs his head and places it onto her lap. She strokes his hair, “I saw you, doctor.” Vera menacingly laughs, “I don’t think I’ll be needing these sessions anymore.” They both close their eyes. “Thank you for all your help.”

Rachel Varro is a 21-year-old novice author and student at Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey, Florida. Her expressionism comes naturally from her mind to her keyboard. Through her creative writing courses, she’s flourished as a new author. In addition to writing, Rachel’s other attributes include film, theatre, pursuing her higher education, and turning frowns around.