bitter Chocolat: flash.black
“Mom, I had the dream again.”
Leila’s mother immediately woke up from her slumber worried not only because it was 4:00 a.m., but also it had been awhile since Leila had this nightmare. “Do you want me to come down? I can make it by late afternoon." Not wanting her mother to make the long drive on short notice, Leila declined. She still needed her mother's help to wade through her confusion, so she asked if they could just talk about it over on the phone. Leila’s mother complied to avoid being seen as pushy or risk Leila leaving out any important details. She made an internal executive decision to drive down if the conversation became too much to bear.
The first time Leila had the nightmare she was sixteen years old. That night, she decided to take a nap before getting ready for prom. Her mother, after pulling accessories out of the closet for Leila’s dress, was heading upstairs to wake her when she heard a muffled, but bone-curdling scream. Running the rest of the way up to Leila’s room, she opened the door to find Leila laying on her stomach. Leila was gripping the sheets so hard her fingers were beginning to change colors. It seemed like some unseen force or energy was holding the lower portion of her body down. Leila’s mother rushed to her side and flipped her onto her back. At that moment, she saw that Leila was still asleep but she had tears streaming down her face. Leila’s mother then grabbed a bottle of water off of Leila's nightstand and the face towel next to it. Pouring cold water onto the towel, she pulled Leila’s body towards hers in a spooning position. She began patting Leila's face with the wet towel whispering how much she loved her, over and over again. Soon, Leila began to calm and awaken. When Leila was lucid, she was surprised to find her mother looking down at her, eyes wet with emotion, namely fear.
”What happened mom?”
Leila's mother explained to Leila that she heard her scream and also described how she found her. She asked Leila if she could remember her nightmare. The only details Leila could recall was that she felt pain in her stomach, could not move, and that everything around her was pitch black. Not wanting to cause alarm, Leila's mother maintained her silence. She knew intuitively Leila had been harmed, but felt it may be buried so far in Leila's subconscious that the nightmare was the literal manifestation of her trauma reaching the surface. When Leila’s mother was about to suggest she stay home, Leila jumped up suddenly like nothing happened shouting "PROM!" Although she really wanted Leila to stay behind so she could keep a watchful eye on her, Leila's mother could not bring herself to dampen her daughter's shift in spirit from panic to pure excitement. Instead, she rose from the bed and got started on Leila's first prom.
Leila had the dream again the night before her scholarship award ceremony. Immediately thereafter, Leila’s mother arranged therapy sessions to determine the source of the nightmare. She constantly worried about a day Leila would be away from home and unable to help herself during an episode. Fearing suffocation amongst other things, Leila's mother decided it was safer if she and Leila learned waking techniques and some coping mechanisms. While still yet to be determined where the nightmare originated from and why, the therapist was able to pinpoint a pattern. Whenever Leila felt an abundance of pure joy or excitement, the barriers surrounding her subconscious relaxed causing the nightmare to surface. Leila's last and most recent episode, was right before she moved out of her parents home to embark on her new journey at university.
“Talk to me dear, are you okay?”
Leila said she was fine, just really confused. She told her mother that the dream felt very different. Leila knew instinctively that the nightmare began the same as always, but this time she saw a white light penetrate the black abyss. Her mother, thinking Leila may be starting to remember, asked if anything new could have possibly triggered a change. Leila told her mother that indeed, something very special and different happened to her earlier that night.