Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 1 | Nightmares

Night after night he wakes up screaming, and I’ve grown tired of his nightmares.

Tonight is no different. I’m already awake, sitting up in bed and examining the heavy bags under my eyes in the vanity mirror on the nightstand. The hollows of my face are sunken in. Grayish skin clings to my jawline. In two short months of marriage, I’ve aged a decade, and I question whether I can fulfill my vow to stay in sickness if these dreams continue.

It’s been like this since our wedding night. Always the same dream. At first, I thought he might’ve been epileptic, the way he was shaking uncontrollably in the bed.

“I’ve never had a seizure in my life,” he said.

But when it happened again the following night, we canceled our honeymoon trip to Hawaii and scheduled an appointment with a neurologist instead. Weeks of testing proved inconclusive. His brain looked typical for anyone with no history of neurological disease—no abnormal electrical impulses, no tumors or bleeding on CT imaging—but doctors couldn’t explain the nightly convulsions in his sleep. As a last-ditch effort, under the recommendation of my holistic medicine-preaching sister-in-law, we visited a hypnotist. That was when he admitted to what he hadn’t told me before.

“I was sentenced to the chair for murdering my wife.”

Photo by Darina Belonogova on Pexels.com

I wonder, can he be indirectly responsible for depriving me of sleep? I watched a documentary once, about Michael Jackson, how he went over two months without REM sleep. If the propofol hadn’t killed him, the expert explained, insomnia eventually would have. No human being should go that long without REM sleep. REM’s that stage in your sleep cycle when your body’s in its deepest state of rest, just before morning. That’s when you dream. And that’s when he…

His sudden yelp startles me out of my thoughts. I try to contort my face into something that exudes love, concern, sympathy, but as I glance over at the clock, 3:03AM, I ask myself how much longer before I snap.

“Babe,” I say with a sigh, “it’s al—”

He’s staring at me with wide-eyed terror. “You killed me,” he says hyperventilating.

“What?” I’m taken aback, fearful that he might have heard my thoughts, but it seems the lack of sleep also has me thinking of realities that aren’t possible.

“You killed me?” he says again as if repeating something he isn’t sure of.

This is different, because for the last two months, I was the victim of his nightmares, and my best friend and maid of honor, ever the voice of reason, never missed an opportunity to question whether it was safe for me to sleep with a man who nightly dreams of my death by his hand.

“They’re nightmares, Suzane,” I assured her.

“But aren’t subconscious dreams unconscious thoughts?”

“I’ve never heard of that.”

“I’m pretty sure Freud said it.”

It was something we laughed at over tea and pastries, but now as he scrambles out of bed, posts himself against the wall, and hides half his face behind the window drapes screaming, “Why did you kill me?” something inside me dares me to try. If only for a single night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep.

I crawl out of bed. He flinches as I cup my hands around his face. “I didn’t kill you,” I coo. “I’m here. You’re here. No one’s dead.”

But as my right hand caresses his left cheek, my left hand reaches down for the curtain cord and wraps it around his neck while his eyes are closed, and I pull with all my might until we both sink into the floor, breathless, lifeless, and I jolt awake on the memory foam mattress, and he’s sitting up in bed, heavy bags under his eyes, with a thin smile feigning concern and says, “Another bad dream?”

I nod.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

This story was brought to you by The Twilight Zone episode “Shadow Play.” Read last year’s story inspired by that same episode below.

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