My scream wakes me up. I don’t hear myself, but my throat aches. Shivering, I pull my sweaty sheets around my shoulders and fumble my way to the bathroom by feeling along the walls.
Nobody enjoys nightmares, even people who like scary things, like me.
There is something eerie about the after-nightmare—knowing it wasn’t real, but still shaking with terror, scared to lie still in bed for fear of being comfortable enough to slip back into sleep. I can’t even remember what my nightmare was about, but I don’t want to be in the same room where it happened, as if it were some kind of murder scene.
Shutting the bathroom door, I sit on the floor where I can’t see my reflection in the mirror, because that too seems likely to tempt the nightmare back. I tug a towel off the rack and layer it around the sheet. It’s still damp from my shower last night.
I’m so tired.
I have a trick I made up as a kid. It started after my dad let me watch Jurassic Park when I was seven (not even the worst of his parenting oversights). That night, as I fled from the Tyrannosaurus rexes, I beat back my first nightmare. The moment is so clear; it’s almost like a real memory. I was crouched behind a rock and saw the shadow of the dinosaur silhouetted on the cliff side next to me. As I realized it would eat me in the next moment, I knew I was dreaming and wanted out, to escape experiencing it. I squeezed my eyes shut as tight as I could, clenched my fists near my temples, and forced my eyes open.