I feel the cool caress of the sheets, twisted about my contorted body, and the sensation helps me stumble from my thin sleep. My eyes blink away the vivid colors of my dream and absorb the darkness of the room. All is quiet, all is still… except for the demons loosed from my imagination. They stir in the shadows and their nightmarish whispers swirl around me. The monsters are at the window trying to get in. My breath sticks in my throat.
There are no monsters, there is just the wind, singing bawdy sea shanties, dancing across the window.
The normal, though jubilant, ocean breeze running its course from the sea to the inland foothills shouldn’t be enough to coax forth the worst of my demons. It is harmless. It is playful. Alone, it poses no threat. But, it is never alone.
Anytime the winds come wandering up from the coast to browse voyeurishly through my neighborhood, they bring the past with them. They bring the memories of the harsh and biting desert winds from my youth. They bring the monsters that haunted my nights then.
I try to breathe normally but the air rattles in my lungs and I’ll can manage is a sharp gasping. My pulse races after drinking heavily of the intoxicating adrenalin that has flooded my body. My gaze frantically searches the shadows for the threat I know is there. I don’t dare move. I don’t dare close my eyes.
The room suddenly explodes into contrasting angles, wrought by my distorted depth perception and rampant fear. The shadows are larger and closer than they should be. The pools of light sneaking through the cracks in the blinds shrink away until they seem more like the forgotten tangent of a false memory than something concretely real I could cling to in my terror.
The darkness presses down on me, suffocating me, and I’m six again. Blown sand, picked up from the miles of empty desert and carried to my house by an unseen force, taps at the window, urgently seeking ingress. Does it want to escape the horrors of the night? Or is it the horror trying to get to me? The pressure of the storm sucks at the same window and the moans and groans echo in my mind. The demons are calling for me. Their giant maw wants to strip the flesh from my bones and devour my soul. The long shadow arms break free of the corners and reach for me. I can feel the twisted talons inches from my body, preparing to rake across my skin.
I turn my eyes away from the window, towards my only possible exit to safety, towards my last hope of surviving the nightmare and my gaze is met by the ghost from the hallway stepping through the open door into the room.
I want to scream.
I turn, the sheets no longer cool against me, and assess the clock to determine how much of the night is left. I ignore the ocean breeze and the haunted memories that traveled in its wake. I close my eyes and focus on calming my heart, on deep breaths, and on trying to salvage some peace and rest. When all but a small tremor of fear have been banished, I drift back into a thin sleep, awaiting the hint of rising sun that will set me free.