It starts as a low grumble from beneath me before I am surrounded by smell of dust, dirt, and blood…so much blood. I hear screams from my left for help and some further beyond in a language I don’t quite recognize. I’m startled awake by a deafening bang, but this nightmare is far from over. Although I am awake, the images of men dressed in what looks like a soldier’s uniform march from my door, across the foot of bed, and through my wall. I can’t move, or speak, but even if I could I have no idea what I would say to the ghostly figures marching before me. My lungs are on fire, but for how long have I been holding my breath? I gasp for air, blink, and they are gone. My room is silent and dark except for the blinking streetlight that shines in from across the road.
I’m safe and I’m okay. I remind myself before building up the courage to leave the warmth of my bed to head to the kitchen.
It’s 4:30am and I laugh to myself as I think about how my therapist is going have a field day with this when I see him this afternoon. It’s been over a month since the last episode of what he describes as bad dreams or sleep paralysis; however, each time this happens, the dream is different. The images seem to be more in focus each time and I can hear more from my surroundings, but this ending was more realistic and invasive.
I make a cup of tea before heading to my favourite chair to write down my dream as best I can. I turn on light and start writing everything I can recall before grabbing something to eat and heading to the bathroom to shower. This one-bedroom apartment has served me well for the last three years, but the building itself is starting to show its age, especially in summer when air conditioning is a must. I have already started to find a new place to move into by the end of this month as the heat waves have been horrendous this summer.
I finally decide on a pair of capris black dress pants and a band t-shirt before sliding on a pair of strappy sandals. I go back to the bathroom to do something with the brown curly mess that is my hair and add a bit of makeup to highlight my favourite feature of myself which are my blue eyes. As I get into my car, I take a few minutes to find the right song for this humid morning. As the song plays, I drive through the familiar streets of my city with the windows down. It rained the night before so streets glycine slightly where puddles haven’t evaporated yet and I can still smell through the humidity the rain and fresh cut grass. By this time in morning, the city comes to life for a new day and cars take their habitual route to jobs that most people don’t enjoy. Except for me, I like my job and the people I work with.
“Good morning, Charlotte, and Happy Friday. Any plans for this weekend?”
“Morning Anita, I have a viewing for a new apartment Saturday but that’s about it, you?”
“We’re taking the kids up to the cottage for the weekend. I am hoping that the weather holds out so we can enjoy some sun.”
I give smile and nod at Anita’s response as she heads back to her office. Anita is usually the first to arrive at Holistic Health Therapy Services. She typically begins seeing client’s early which is why I like to arrive shortly after 8:00am before her first appointment. Often Anita reminds me that I don’t have to come in that early, but the slow melodic pace in the morning is what I need to centre myself before the world’s problems crash through the door. Once the computer turns on, I check to see how many clients are booked for sessions. Anita and her partner Liz opened this clinic about 4 years ago and have since been joined by Dr. David Keene who is a psychologist and Kai who recently graduated. Although I had wanted to be in an office myself supporting clients, I found my skills were more suited for secretarial work. Being highly organized to a fault and predictability being my closest companion, the mundane office tasks and scheduling were my calling.
At 8:15am the first client arrives. I greet them with a smile and welcome them by name before asking them to take a seat in our rather spa like waiting room. The décor was not my choice, but rather Liz as she wanted the ambiance to be calm and serene with various shades of blue and interspersed with inspiration quotes. Not that I mind these quotes; however, seeing the words “life is what you make it” every day gets frustrating when change feels like a never-ending mountain to climb.
Once Anita brings her client back to her office, the apartment search continues. Although a viewing of a one-bedroom apartment closer to the outskirts of the city is set for Saturday, these places go fast and I can’t guarantee it will be there when I apply. As I scroll through the pages of ads, the other therapists begin to arrive and the all too familiar hum of the office takes shape. Clients coming and going, calling some to collect payments, and booking new appointments is what my day consists of. Usually, I can mindlessly complete most tasks, but the image of those solders from this morning are burned within my brain. It takes all the mental strength I can muster to push through this day without getting dragged back into that odd dream again. Before I even realize it, it’s midafternoon and my day is almost over.
“Hey Anita, I just wanted to check in before I head out for my appointment. Is there anything else that you need finished before the weekend?” I politely ask as I peak into her office. I know she doesn’t have a client nor does she mind when people stop by to chat briefly between notes.
“Nope, I think we are all set. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.” She cheerfully replies.
I nod and say you too before heading back to the front desk to collect my things and then I make my way back to my car.