I took a nap yesterday against my better judgement. I’d only slept two hours, waking at 12-something AM covered in sweat. The return of bloody night sweats. This latest round resulting from hormonal imbalance, most likely, but the condition’s listed as a side effect from all my medications. They haunt my waking hours, far too many for a champion sleeper who slept through the night at six weeks of age.
If waking up shivering and goose bumpy in soaked pajamas wasn’t enough, intense and disturbing nightmares preceded it. Once I relived the same nightmare–and night sweats–three times. Contending with a week-old total knee replacement while peeling off sticky cold pajamas for a clean pair. Twice. And until yesterday that replayed dream ranked as the worst ever. Nightmare can’t even describe it as it didn’t scare me; instead I awoke crying, engulfed in unbearable sadness, the story burned on my brain to this day.
Yesterday’s though…lying down, portable fan comforting with its white noise, phone alarm set for a recommended 90-minutes, and asleep in minutes. Again, a harmless dream turned dreadful as I walked up and down a hall from my old high school, recognizable male voices in strangers’ bodies bombarding me with hate-filled insults, shocking and cruel. Smiles on their faces. If I tried to defend myself the words proved too soft to hear. I’ve finally found my classroom but more boys taunt me maliciously, the few girls seated remaining silent.
I needed to find the rest room and must pass the worst lot in the hallway to get there. Once inside the only available toilet is clogged with shit. Revolted I set back down the hall to the classroom, but this time stop in front of the ringleader. Meeting his eyes, I said, “I’ll give you $100 to kill me.” I’ve shut off the valve of their vitriol. Back in the classroom at my desk, a girl sitting next to me tries to console, her concerned eyes trained on my empty ones. I meant it.
My eyes opened and I laid still as sweat raised from pores like a perfectly executed, muted stadium wave. I don’t sigh and shiver this time, too unnerved by my request. But I’ve laughed, I tell myself. The music worked. I danced. I was pretty.
Now I wonder who called whose bluff?