Dreaming – short story, 1st draft

 

rooftop, building, city, skyline, night

As per most of Amanda’s therapy sessions, she read from her journal.

“It was night time, but I don’t know what time.  It felt like somewhere between midnight and six in the morning.  I didn’t see a clock, but that’s what it felt like.  I heard a knock at the door, sat up because I wasn’t sure, and I waited until I heard it again.  When I did, I felt around but couldn’t find my robe.  I was sleeping naked, which I usually don’t do.  It was cold.  They knocked again, and I sensed some kind of urgency, so I started for the door even though I was naked.  I tiptoed because I didn’t want them to know I was awake.  As I got near the door, they knocked again, and it scared me enough that I instinctively ducked down, not really sure why.  But when I did, my hands kind of went out, and I knocked a small picture frame off one of the end tables in the living room.  I reached out to catch the frame, but I wasn’t quick enough.  It hit the floor and the glass cracked. 

“I kept going to the door and looked through the peep hole, but I was too late.  They were gone.  I pulled the door open, and there was this dark reddish glow, like the entire hallway was filled with this reddish light.  It even poured into the room as if it were like water flowing around me.  When I closed the door, it disappeared.

“Then I went back to the picture that I had knocked over.  I cleaned up the glass and started for the kitchen to throw it away.  Then I felt a stabbing in my foot.  I had stepped on a piece of glass that I missed when cleaning up.”

She closed the notebook, placed it on her lap, and waited for the doctor to share his thoughts.  As the older man finished scribbling notes, the younger woman looked down at her Chuck Taylor sneakers.

“You don’t actually sleep naked, correct?” asked Dr. Wade.

“Right,” she said.  “I don’t.  But when I woke up the next morning, I was naked.  I didn’t even get dressed.  I just grabbed a pen and wrote everything down as soon as possible, like you said to do.”  She held up the notebook, and he nodded.  “Are you sure it’s not sleepwalking?”

“Recent studies are showing that sleepwalking is likely hereditary,” he said, “and you’ve said there’s never been any in your family.”

“Not that I know of,” she added.

“Also, sleepwalkers do not normally remember what happened while they were sleepwalking.  You seem to have a clear recollection of what you did, or what you dreamed about, so that makes it unlikely to be sleepwalking.”

“When I woke up the next morning, I felt like I hadn’t slept at all.  I was so tired I could barely get out of bed.  I knew enough to write everything down, but I was really dragging.  Plus with the clocks moving ahead, it was darker than I expected, and that threw me off too.”

Dr. Wade adjusted his glasses on his nose, then scribbled more notes in Amanda’s folder.  She yawned, cracked her knuckles, and gazed out the window at the gray clouds that looked about ready to drop rain on the city.  Then she looked at the doctor again, wondering if he realized how silly his gray comb-over looked.  She wondered how many tweed jackets he owned.  She reminded herself that all that really mattered was whether or not he could help her deal with her  dreams and other issues.

“You said you were naked in your dream,” said the doctor, “and you were naked when you woke up, but you didn’t go to sleep naked.”

“That’s right.”

“Do you remember what you were wearing when you went to sleep?”

“Yeah.  A long-sleeved cotton shirt and matching leggings.  Oh, also, when I walked past the television, it was on.  I was on TV, reading the news from my old anchor desk.”

“That’s good to know.  What color were the pajamas?”

“Burgundy with white stars.  Now that I think about it, the color of the light pouring into the room was probably the same color as the pajamas.  It’s probably not important though.”

“Do you know where those clothes are now?” he asked.

She looked at her hands while thinking.  “I don’t know.”

“I want you to go home and find them.  Call me tomorrow and tell me every detail you can about those clothes.  Where are they?  Are they folded in a drawer or on your closet floor?  Are they clean or dirty after wearing them?  Try to call between noon and one and I’ll be able to answer the phone.  If you can’t call then, just call when it’s good for you and leave a message.  Okay?”

“Yeah, I can do that,” she said.

“Are you keeping up with your medications?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”  He turned a page in her folder.  “Now,” he began, and she always knew what question followed when he started with Now.  “How is your career going?”

“Going well.  I had two interviews this month, one was a second interview, and it went longer than scheduled.  That’s a good thing.  They took me on a tour of the set and the newsroom, which they usually only do if they’re really serious about you.  Today is Wednesday, and they said they were hoping to make a decision by Friday the latest.”

“That sounds excellent.  I guess you must have put me down as a reference on your resume because someone called me.  Of course I told them as many good things as possible.”

“Really?” she said.  “Was it a guy from WBAC?”

“Yes, Mr. Barrone.  He called a few days ago.  Best of luck, and I will see you next week.  Actually, let’s wait until I hear back from you about those clothes before we make your next appointment.  Okay?”

“Sure.  Thanks.”

  _________________

After a ride just short of a half hour, she felt for the right key before getting off the bus so that there would be no wasted time from the street to her apartment door.  Though she wasn’t aware of any actual crime that had taken place in her new neighborhood, the visual difference from the Upper West Side to this less attractive neighborhood was, to her, astoundingly disappointing.  Rarely was she not out of breath after shutting the door, turning all four its locks, and falling back against it.  Her breathing slowed enough that her own pulse didn’t block out everything other sound.

Once she was certain nobody had followed her, as nobody ever had yet, she went to her bedroom and searched for the clothes she had worn to bed the previous night.  They were not in the bottom of her closet where sat three laundry baskets, one each for darks, medium colors, and whites.  They were not in the washing machine or dryer. 

She pulled back the bed sheets to see if the pajamas were kicked down to the bottom of the bed, which would happen on sweaty nights such as when the weather grew too humid or she were plagued by another disturbing dream about an ex-boyfriend.  Those dreams would cause her to wake up to find her hand between her legs and in the midst of an orgasm.  On this day, like those others, she was not surprised to find clothing kicked to the bottom of the bed.  What did surprise her was that they were not the burgundy cotton with stars as she remembered wearing.  It was the old t-shirt and sweatpants from the former lover and colleague from a former newsroom.

After tossing that clothing to the bottom of her closet, she pulled a drawer open to find the burgundy with white stars neatly folded.  She picked them up and held them to her face.  She inhaled and got a nose full of a fruity fabric softener.  They had not been worn since her last trip to the laundry room, at least a week ago.

She called Dr. Wade’s office and left a message.

“Hi, this is Amanda, I was in the office today about one o’clock.  We talked about my dream, where someone was knocking on my door and I answered the door naked.  You asked about my pajamas.  They were in the dresser, washed and clean as if I had never worn them.  I’m not positive what that means.  I have an idea, but what I’m thinking isn’t good.  Call back and we’ll make an appointment for my next session.  Thanks, bye.”

After hanging up, she sat in a comfortable chair in her living room and thought about the dream again.  That’s when her eyes landed on the picture frame, the one that had fallen off the table and smashed on the floor in her dream.  Something looked wrong.  Reaching a finger at it, she realized there was no glass in the frame, just the picture.  She picked it up.  Her eyes drifted from the edge of the frame to the rug below.  There were red stains that did not fit the pattern, and just looking at them made her foot hurt.  She stripped off her shoe and sock to find small blots of blood on the sock and a small cut on the bottom of her foot.  Still holding the picture frame, she moved to the kitchen and opened the trash can.  Inside were small shards of glass.

She walked back to the living room, pulled a blanket from the back of the sofa, and wrapped it around herself.  Then she curled up at one corner of the long seat.  She glanced at the lamps and ceiling lights that were not on.  She wished for them to be on, but she did not wish to leave the comfort she had created.  She stared at one lamp, attempting to impart her will and click it on, but it would not happen.  As the room grew darker each minute, her panic increased.  As the room grew darker, she cursed herself for not having gotten up the previous minute, yet still she would not move.  She pulled the blanket so it wrapped around her head and only exposed her eyes, nose, and mouth.

Her cell phone buzzed on the end table next to the sofa.  She leaned to see an unfamiliar number, enough of a reason for her to not let go of the blanket in which she was hiding from everything.  The phone buzzed again, signaling a voice message.  Amanda rolled slightly and reached a finger from a sleeve she had made with the blanket.  She pressed what was necessary to play the message.

Hi Amanda.  This is Mike Barrone from WBAC.  Just want you to know that we loved your second interview.  We’d like you meet with you once more, hopefully tomorrow but Monday the latest.  Just give me a call back at this same number, and maybe we bring this all to a close really soon.  Call any time, even if it’s late.  Just leave a message if I don’t pick up.  Bye.

She saved the message and ended the call.  Then she pressed a few buttons and waited.

“Hi, Mike.  It’s Amanda.”  She sat up and fidgeted slightly.  “Yeah, I got your message.  Thanks very much for calling.”  She allowed the blanket to fall from her head and rest on her shoulders.  “Yes, tomorrow would be perfect.”  She smiled.  Her right hand pushed some locks of hair behind her right ear.  “Two is good, no problem.”  She smiled, then felt a chill as if someone had opened a nearby window.  “Yes, I remember.  Great.  Thanks very much.  Bye.”

She opened the calendar app in her phone, set a reminder for her meeting at the television studio, and returned the phone to the end table.  Then she got off the couch and walked to the bedroom as the blanket fell away from her, piling itself in the middle of the living room.

“Yes!” She looked at herself in the dresser-top mirror and slipped into her on-air voice.  “WBAC News is proud to announce the return of Amanda Ritter to the city.”  She dropped back to her regular voice and pulled open a drawer beneath the mirror.  “But now she’s going to bed early to make sure she’s bright and ready for tomorrow’s final interview.”  She pulled out the burgundy top with white stars.  She froze for a moment when she noticed that beneath those pajamas sat the white t-shirt and gray sweatpants she had recently thrown with the dirty laundry.  She held up the white t-shirt by the shoulders and raised it at arms’ length and about three inches higher.  “Yeah, that’s about his height.”  She fought back a tear.  She closed the drawer but did not hear the rattling of two prescription bottles inside.

After a short trip to the bathroom, she curled up beneath her blankets and imagined herself on her way back to local stardom.

 _________________

“I’m sure because of your years at WBCN you’re familiar with everything we have here,” said Mike Borrone, the on-air manager from WBAC, “everything just might be in different places and slightly different terminology.  But I know you’ll be able to hop back on the horse as if it was just yesterday.”

“Definitely,” said Amanda in a navy suit that, until that morning, had still been in the plastic from the dry cleaners.  “I even see a few familiar faces that came over from BCN.”

“Yeah, that’s right.  That’s great.  I was hoping a few familiar co-workers might help you feel comfortable.  I must admit that some of the higher ups thought it was a little risky bringing you aboard, but it didn’t take much to convince them to give you a shot.”

I’m sure the fact that you’re only offering me about half of what I made at BCN helped convince them, she thought.  Then she wondered if she had said that aloud or only to herself.

They left the studio area and entered a short hallway.  Through a glass panel she spotted a face, then she knocked on the glass.  She waved when the man looked up at her.

“You know Dave?” asked Mike.

“Yeah.  We go way back to BAC together.  Haven’t seen him in years.  He left at about the same time, but I didn’t know he was here.  We kind of lost touch.”

“You go get reacquainted because you’ll be working together.  Down this hall, last door on the left is the green room.  I’ll wait there for you.  Take your time.”

“Thanks,” she said while reaching for the door to the control room.  The door handle was hot, and she pulled her hand away quickly.  She looked toward the hall where Mike had been walking, but now it was blank.  She no longer saw any doors, just solid walls that narrowed to an infinite point.  The floor had turned from white to red.  She again reached for the control room door and, despite the heat, pulled it open.  The same red light that had been in her recent dream was flowing from the television control room.  Out walked Dave.

“What are you doing here?” he asked through gritted teeth.

“What do you mean?”

“You knew I never wanted to see you again, and now you show up at my workplace?”

She leaned back slightly.  “You think I’m stalking you or something?  I’m just fighting for a job like everyone else.”  She watched the red flow in from beneath the door.  It began to fill around her in all directions.  It was quickly up to her waist.

“Get the fuck out,” growled Dave.  “We’re done.  We can’t work together.  We can’t do anything together.”

Amanda leaned closer and whispered, “I can think of a few things we did really well together.”  The red light was filling up to her chest.

“Is this a dream?” she asked, reaching out to Dave and up to put a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s a nightmare,” he said, eyes turning from blue to a burnt orange.  His teeth seemed to grow and protrude from his snarling lips.  “My nightmare.”

She backed up and bumped into a table from which something fell.  It was a small picture in a glass frame, now shattered on the floor.  As she looked down at the pieces, she noticed her shoes were gone.  She was barefoot.  She looked back up at Dave’s face and noticed how much younger he seemed.  She thought about when they had first met at WBAC.  He was the older guy with salt-and-pepper hair, she the new young thing just starting out in the business.  He offered to “show her the ropes,” but they literally were ropes he used to tie her to her brass bed.  It was exciting for both of them, but it was all over when she didn’t follow his directions and texted too much.  When his wife found out, he ended everything despite her protests and threats.

Your nightmare?” she asked.

“My nightmare, and I want you out.  If I had my way, you wouldn’t be just out.  You’d be dead.”

The redness had now filled the room up to the ceiling.  Without a word, just a twisted smile, she pulled off her suit jacket and unbuttoned her white blouse.  She turned to face the control room glass, leaned forward, elbows on the control panel.  She felt hands sliding her skirt up to expose her.  She felt a hard, open-palm slap on her ass.  Then another.  By the third slap, the redness that had flooded into the room had changed from a light mist to a dark, impenetrable fog.

  _________________

Amanda’s smartphone alarm chirped.  She sat up, breathing heavily, looking around to be certain of where she was – her own bed.  She glanced at her dream journal on the nightstand beside the bed, then looked again at the clock.  No time, she thought.  Have to get to WBAC in an hour.

As she pushed off the blankets, a rush of cold hit her.  She looked down to realize she was naked.  She checked the bottom of the bed and again saw the sweatpants and t-shirt.  The ones she had kept and refused to give back.  The ones that allowed her to feel closer to him.

She hugged herself while stepping to the bathroom for a quick shower.  She leaned back enough to keep the water off her hair, then pulled her navy suit and a white blouse from the closet.  Though she would have preferred navy heels, she instead went with what she called her “lucky” black pumps.  Nearly an hour from when her alarm disturbed her sleep, her cab stopped in front of WBAC.

Before the cab had driven out of sight, her phone buzzed.  The display showed Dr. Wade.  She pressed to answer as she walked.

“Hi, doctor.  You get my message about the pajamas?”

“Yes.  Amanda, where are you right now?”

“I’m at WBAC.  They called me yesterday and offered me the job.  Well, they didn’t offer, but they strongly suggested that I – ”

“Amanda.  Please listen carefully.  Stop right now.  Wherever you are, just stop walking right now.  I want you to get to my office as soon as possible.  Do not go into WBAC.”

“But I’ll lose the job if I don’t show up.”  She stopped and moved away from the building entrance, knowing she was in the way of others.

“It’s okay.  I’ve already talked to the station manager.”

“You mean Mike?”

“Yes.  It’s okay.  I told him that I needed to meet with you today.  He completely understands.  Now, walk away from the building and come to my office.”

“Okay, if you’re sure,” she said.

“Completely sure.  Also, can you go to your apartment first and bring your journal with you?”

“It’ll take an extra ten minutes, but sure.  I can do that.”

“Great.  Thank you very much.  I’ll expect you in less than an hour.”

  _________________

Amanda sat in the familiar, comfortable chair in Dr. Wade’s office.  Her feet were up on the seat, knees bent and partially hiding her face, legs parallel and surrounded by her tense arms.  Instead of her navy suit and white blouse, she was in a t-shirt and sweatpants.

“Now,” the doctor began, “I apologize for asking this question again, but please tell me once more what happened after you left your last visit here and then everything up to when you arrived back here today.”

Amanda huffed, put her forehead down against her knees, and hugged herself a little harder.

“I left here, went home, found the pajamas from that other dream like you told me to.  Called your office, left a message like you told me to.  Got a phone call about the news anchor interview.  Made an appointment for today to meet with Mike Barrone about the job.  Got my clothes ready to meet him at WBAC.  Went to sleep.  Got up this morning, was a little later than I wanted to get up, but it was good.  Showered, light breakfast.  Got in a cab, headed for the studio.  Then you called me before I entered the building.  I left and came here, like you told me to.”

Dr. Wade sat still for a dozen or so seconds.  Then he opened his folder again, looked up and down again, and closed it again as he had the first time he had asked that question only a few minutes prior.

“Did you bring your journal?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, leaning her head towards the small table to her right.

“Is there anything in there about any dreams you had last night?”

“No.  I woke up a little late and had to rush to the interview.  Almost screwed it up before I even got there.”

“When I called,” he said, “you were outside the WBAC building.  Correct?”

“Yes.”

“And you went home, got your journal, and came here.  Correct?”

“Yes.”

“But you did nothing else?”

“No.”

“Then,” the doctor scratched at his ear, “why are you not dressed in your suit for the interview?”

“My suit?”  Amanda looked down at herself, her clothing, how she was sitting.  “I didn’t change.”  She stood.  “I don’t understand.”  She looked at Dr. Wade hoping for an answer, but his face remained as blank as always.  “Is this one of my dreams?”

“What makes you think that?” he asked.

“Because of how I’m dressed.  I sleep in these.  I don’t go out in public this way.  I can’t.  That would be career suicide.”

“Is there anything special about those particular clothes?” he asked.

“No.”

“Are you sure?”  He shifted slightly in his chair.  “Do they have any kind of connection to anyone or any special moment in your life?”

“No.  Why?”  She walked around the room and got close to the windows where she hoped to feel some sunshine.

“You said you don’t usually dress this way, but you’re wearing them now.  And you seem to wear them nearly every night.”

“How would you know that?” she said, turning back to face the doctor.

“You said you were on your way to the interview when I called,” he said.  “Do you not realize that you already went on the interview yesterday?”

“I did not.”  She stepped towards him but stayed behind her chair, facing him.

“Yes you did.  That’s why I called you before you went there today.  I got a call from Mr. Barrone yesterday.  Are you not aware of what happened during your interview?”

“No.  I wasn’t there yesterday.  He called yesterday for an interview today.”  She drew close enough to the back of her chair that it moved.

“He called the day before and you went there yesterday.”

I was here yesterday, so that’s not possible.”

“You were here two days ago.  Do you remember who you saw there?”  She kept her eyes on him as she walked around to her chair, sat, and again hugged her legs against her.

“Last night,” she started, “last night I had a dream that I had gone there.  But it was a dream.”

“No it wasn’t.”

“I dreamed I visited the studio,” she nearly whispered, “saw the control room, and I saw a guy I used to work with at a previous station.”

“That’s right,” said the doctor.  “Keep going.”

“We talked.  We once had a relationship.”

“You did more than talk.”

Her face turned up towards the doctor, eyes painfully wide.

“No.  It was a dream.”

“It was real.  You invited the man to have sex with you in the studio.”

“No.  It was a dream.”  A few tears developed.  “It had to be a dream.  I would never do that.  It was a dream.”

“Amanda, I wish it had been a dream, but it wasn’t.”

“When I had that other dream, when someone was knocking, there was this red light that filled the room.  It was everywhere.  And it was everywhere in the studio.  It had to be a dream.”

“Amanda, it was real.  The red light you are seeing, that’s something we will have to deal with.  Mr. Barrone called me and told me what happened.  You were fired from your previous station because of your – let’s say inappropriate behavior and your history with that former colleague.  He was fired too.  That was over a year ago, and that’s why you’ve been coming here all these months.  But what happened yesterday was real.  You didn’t write it in your dream journal because it wasn’t a dream.”

She sunk into the chair as if it were an open mouth attempting to suck her into it, and she would have gladly allowed that if it had been possible.  As before, she sat with her arms pulling her legs closer to her chest.

“But,” she started, “I remember that.  Me and, um, that guy.  And then I remember going home, going to sleep, waking up again.  Shouldn’t that mean that this, right now, is a dream?”

Dr. Wade kept his eyes on her in what seemed like a staring contest.  It didn’t take long for her to look away.

“Amanda, name some differences that you have noticed between dreams and reality.”

“I don’t feel pain in dreams.”

“Okay.”  He scribbled in her notes.

“I’ve had dreams when I was flying.”

“Sure.  Many people do.”

“I sometimes do things that make no sense.  Like one minute I’m riding a bike and then I’m talking to my mother, but she’s been dead since I was a kid.”

“Yes.  Anything else?”

“Sometimes I’m with people who are the wrong people.  I mean, I’m talking to someone who I know is my sister, but the person’s face is someone I’ve never seen before.”

“Yes, also common,” said Dr. Wade.  “If anything else comes to mind, feel free to interrupt.  Have you ever been in the middle of a dream and suspected you were in a dream?”

“Yes.”

“And did you do anything differently when you realized it was a dream?”

“In dreams when I was flying, I knew it was a dream.  Usually I’m on top of a building, and I have a choice of jumping down or flying up.  It’s like I have to do one or the other.  I can’t back away.  It’s either fall or fly.”

“When that happens, you always choose to fly?”

“Well,” she said, “yeah.  But I don’t really know it’s a dream until I start flying.  Then I know I can’t fall as long as I keep flying.”

“And you have no fear of death in the dream?”

“Right.”

“But you know it,” Dr. Wade leaned forward.  “You know it’s a dream, you know you won’t die if you jump up and fly.  Correct?”

“Yes,” she said, barely a whisper.

“What do you think would happen if you chose to fall instead of fly?”

She entered another staring contest with him, but this time there were no winners or losers.

“I don’t know,” she said.  “Probably nothing.”

“Find out,” he said immediately.  “The next time you have that dream, fall.  Don’t fly.  Fall.  See what happens.”

She glanced at the window, another gray day, and looked back again.

“What about,” she started, “what about when people say that you’ll die for real if you die in your dream because your brain thinks you’re dead and then your heart stops?”

“Does that make any sense to you?”

“No.”

“Right.  It makes no sense, and it wouldn’t happen.  You would not die.  I want you to face that situation and learn.  It will help you understand the difference between dreams and reality, and hopefully it will stop you from having sex with someone at work where everyone can see you.”

Amanda’s face dropped into her folded arms.  Her muffled voice said, “I guess there’s no chance of me ever getting that job.”

“I’m sorry, but you are correct.  Mr. Barrone insisted that I keep you away from that building.  If he’s lucky, he might get to keep his job because of what happened.  Because of what you did, it does not speak well of his ability to hire people.”

“Should I go apologize?” she asked.

“No,” he said, volume increased.  “You should not go near there.  I want you to go home and rest.  Go home, maybe have a glass of wine, and go to sleep.  By the time you get home, it will be about dinner time.  Have a good meal, a glass of wine, and go to sleep.  Get extra hours of sleep tonight.  Keep your journal nearby and write anything you think of when you wake up.  If you wake up in the middle of the night, immediately grab your pen and write whatever you remember.  If anything significant happens, call and leave a message.  I will make sure to squeeze you in for a short appointment tomorrow and we will talk about your dream.  Do you understand?”

Amanda nodded.

  _________________

 

It was dark when Amanda sat up in bed.  She looked at the clock to see how long she had been asleep, but the red numbers were gone.

Huh?

She felt as if she had not slept at all.  She searched her mind for any sign of something she had dreamed about, but nothing came to mind.  There was a quick image of a beach, but she wasn’t sure if that was from a dream or influenced by a commercial for an off-season swimsuit sale she had seen recently.

I could use some water.

She threw back the covers and was surprised to see she was again naked.  Still groggy from her uncertain sleep, she struggled to stand and fell back on the bed.

Dr. Wade said if I’m dreaming, I won’t feel anything.

She looked for a way to test that.  Her nakedness caused her to think a little differently, and she grew a devilish, upturned smile from only the left side of her lips.  Her eyes fell closed again as she put two fingers together and pinched herself, her nipples, between her legs.

Nothing.  She tried again.  Nothing.

Amanda walked to the open window and put her face near the screen.  The air had no noticeable temperature.  She raised the screen and leaned out, showing the dark world half of her body and giving herself a little bit of a thrill.  She looked up into the night but saw no stars, nothing, not even the usual deep blue that would outline the buildings.  Just blackness over blackness at the top of the adjacent roofs.

The roof.  Hmmm.

Again she felt nothing, neither warmth nor a chill when she opened the roof access door and stepped into the night air.  She watched her own feet as she walked closer to the edge of the roof.  The roof was bordered by a brick wall, knee-high and equally wide.  Though she had never actually stood on this building’s roof, she believed it was a place she had been many times before.

Her body quivered and she placed one foot up on the wall and pushed upward with the other foot.  From fourteen stories high, she looked out at the city, at any visible window, hoping to be seen, but every window was black.  The street and traffic lights were also black.  She looked up and saw nothing but blackness.  She looked down and saw not one person, not one moving car, not one sign of life other than herself.

She walked slowly around the building, arms out to her sides to provide balance.  She reached up to catch a breeze, but there was nothing moving, not even a detectable temperature.  She swung her arms and could not even feel the normal resistance of air.  She held her hands before her face and slowly moved them away from her body.  Her skin seemed to glow in the dark, but her extended hands were slightly less visible than they had been when in front of her face.

Amanda placed her toes just past the edge of the brick border.  She stretched her arms out left and right and raised her face up to the sky.  She remembered her doctor’s suggestion that the next time she might dream about having to either fall or fly, she should allow herself to fall instead of always flying.  She looked downward where everything was still dark.  She slowly leaned forward, a little more, a little more.

It wasn’t until she was halfway to the ground that she actually could feel the resistance of wind against her body.


Questions:

  1. This story does not feel 100% complete to me. However, I have nothing else I can add to it.  How does it “feel” to you?
  2. My original idea was to write about someone who occasionally couldn’t tell the difference between dreams and reality. I normally don’t like endings in which readers are forced to choose what they think happened.  I think I did enough to tip my hand, but I can’t be sure.  By saying Amanda could feel the air halfway down is my way of saying the ending is reality, and she’s going to die.  Did it come across to you that way?
  3. Did you notice the line about her prescription bottles in the pajama drawer?  That was meant to suggest she has not been taking her medications, despite what she told her therapist.  I added that shortly before publishing this.  I was going to let you make that assumption without mentioning it, but then I thought  you might not remember the original mention from the beginning of the story.  Do you think it was helpful to be reminded about that, or do you think you didn’t need it?
  4. I’m not an expert on sleepwalking.  If you disagree with anything I used, feel free to let me know. 

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