Living Between Dreams
The night problem had come back. She knew that it would because that’s what it did. She called it the night problem because giving it any other name would be too scary. She wanted to tell someone, but she didn’t know who to confide in. Mom wouldn’t listen. She didn’t believe her when there was an alligator under her bed, or an ogre living in the closet eating her socks.
Instead of understanding, mom had been mad when she told her those things; said she was too old to be complaining about monsters under the bed and to stop being a baby. Sarah was supposed to be a good example for her younger brother and not scare him. She didn’t want to keep upsetting mom.
She was on her own. No one was going to help her figure out how to solve her night problem. The longer it went on, the more anger built up inside her. She pressed it down low in her belly, but sometimes it flared up, and she felt capable of snapping tree trunks with her bare hands. She tried not to let anyone see it, but they had all heard her stomping up the stairs and slamming her door enough to know she wasn’t a happy child.
She hated being helpless and unable to control anything in her life. She couldn’t stand not having any say in what happened to her. She felt vulnerable and violated, but she didn’t know the words for those feelings. She just knew she was exhausted. Being awake was a lot to handle. Being asleep was even worse.
She thought of the gun.
Having a gun in her hand wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling. She often snuck into Aaron’s room to hold it and feel its power. Dad had taught her enough about guns. He said they were safe as long as she learned proper safety regulations for handling them; check if it’s loaded, make sure the safety is on, point it down when not shooting.
Some weekends, she shot targets with him. When she was doing “tough stuff” with dad, he could see her. She liked that feeling. He didn’t like when she was weak. He taught her this way to feel strong. A gun was protection. That night, she had gone to bed with its steely weight under her pillow.
She had considered what would happen if she used the gun. But even more, she thought about what she would have to live with if she didn’t. She had never stood up for herself a day in her life. She always lived to make others more comfortable. But that was over. This time she was going to do what was right for herself. “It’s not selfish to take care of yourself,” her therapist had told her. That is what this was; she was taking care of herself.
This is a short excerpt from Living Between Dreams available on Kindle Unlimited.