Thursday, October 23, 2014
So much for my bid for independence. I guess I’m not as tough as I thought I could be.
I tried my best to sleep in my own bed. I took a nice, long bath to relax beforehand. When I climbed onto my sleeping mat, I left the lights up a little, just to keep me from imagining things in the dark. I put on soothing music so I wouldn’t think every creak and rustle was Finiuld coming to get me. I took the light sedative Dr. Feru had prescribed. It was actually nice. I curled up to sleep, feeling all warm and pleasant.
Yet every time I closed my eyes, I was back on the Ofetuchan ship. The memories crowded in, leaving me in tears and my heart pounding in panic. Even the steady pull of Feru’s sedative couldn’t entice me to let sleep take over. The nightmares were there, waiting for me.
At last I had to admit I was not going to be able to sleep alone in my room. For the second night in a row, I cried ‘uncle’.
I thought about going to Betra again. I knew he’d understand. The thought of being warm and safe in his bed was a powerful temptation. Yet I hesitated. Pride and humiliation over my continued weakness warred with the compulsion to go to my liaison for help yet again.
I’ll admit it: I’m tired of men having to come to my rescue. Damn it, I used to be strong. I used to be able to take care of myself. With a baby on the way, this is not the time to play the damsel in distress.
Yet I couldn’t face sleep and all its horrors. Not alone. With the sedative pulling on me and the natural need to sleep, I had to get some rest.
So I compromised – a little. Yes, I caved in and went in search of someone to help me stave off the nightmares. But it wasn’t a man, at least.
Candy’s eyes were wide when she answered my summons at her door. At first I thought it was only surprise at my late call. I rushed to apologize.
“Sorry to bust in on you like this,” I said. “Are you, um, entertaining anyone?”
“No.” Candy grabbed my arm and hauled me into her quarters. “Get in here.”
I blinked, not just because of the abrupt welcome. Candy’s rooms always give me pause. They’re set up like mine with the same basic furnishings, but she’s put her stamp on her private space. Ruffled pillows, teddy bears, dolls, and lacey throws predominate against a background of pastel blues, pinks, and purples. Candy is a girly-girl to the extreme, too precious by far. I have often wondered how the uber-manly Kalquorians she brings in here react when they see her rooms. I worry for her eventual clan’s home.
I got past my usual initial shock at being thrust into Candy’s Wild World of Ruffles. She jabbered breathlessly right off the bat.
“You have to spend the night. After what happened last night, I can’t sleep. I’m scared out of my wits that whatever that thing was will come back. Laugh at me if you want, but don’t leave me alone, okay Shalia? I know you don’t believe in ghosts, but I know I was awake when I saw that – that – whatever it was!”
So that’s why she looked so panicked when she opened the door. She probably thought I was the ship’s ghost or something, knocking on her door in the dead of sleeping hours.
I smiled as reassuringly as I could manage in my own rattled state. “I’m not laughing, Candy. Truth is, I can’t sleep either. I was hoping you’d let me stay over.”
Realization dawned on my friend. She put her terror aside to wrap me up in a hug. “Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry. It’s the nightmares again, isn’t it? Of course you can stay with me any time you need to.” She giggled self-consciously as she pulled back to look at me. “Even when I’m not expecting the bogey man to jump out of my closet, you can stay.”
“Is that your latest sex game?” I joked weakly. “I’m not sure I care to be a part of that.”
Candy burst out laughing. Now that she knew she didn’t have to face her own terrors alone, she was back to her bubbly self. “Don’t knock it until you try it! Come on, you look exhausted. Let’s get you to bed.”
“I took a sedative,” I said, letting her lead me to her sleeping room. Hot pink and white eyelet fabric was its own nightmare, but I looked forward to getting some rest. I wouldn’t be able to see it in the dark anyway.
As loving as an older sister, Candy tucked me in. She made sure I had a cup of water on the stand next to the bed and made me promise to wake her up if I had any nightmares. “Anything at all,” she insisted. “Don’t be brave, Shalia, because God knows if I see that dark entity again, I will be screaming your ear off.”
I smiled as my eyes began to close, partly because of Candy’s dramatic ‘dark entity’ description, but mostly because in her presence, I wasn’t assaulted by visions of the hellish past.
I guess she was as comforted by my presence as I was by hers, because she didn’t wake me with screams. While sleeping with Candy isn’t nearly as nice as sleeping with Betra, I don’t remember having any nightmares. I woke up feeling pretty good this morning. Even opening my eyes to the nauseatingly adorable teddy bear in a pink tutu that sat on the bedside stand didn’t bother me.
I was also able to look forward to the day ahead with a sense of motivation. Days are easy. It’s the nights that suck.