Night Terror

Scared girl running in the forest

Only the unknown frightens men. But once a man has faced the unknown, that terror becomes the known. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Run, just keep running. I can’t breathe, my side is hurting and my heart is beating out of my chest. I know if I stop, I will be killed and no one will know where I am. He is behind me. I can hear his footsteps running in the leaves and if I slow down he will be on me. Can I hide? I don’t see anywhere. There’s a big rock. No that’s too obvious. He can come around and see me and I will be helpless. I will die. I don’t want to die.

There’s an old house in the woods ahead. If I can make it there maybe I can lock myself in. It hurts so much to breathe. My lungs are burning. There it is! God, please let me make it inside. Be careful, the steps might fall in and I will be caught. Run across the porch into the door. Slam it shut and lock it. The lock is old. I hope it holds.

Check the windows and turn the locks on top. This one is rusty and hard to turn. I know he is outside. Panic. Please turn. Finally! Now check the back door. It doesn’t have a lock! The screen door has one. Pull the screen closed and latch the hook in the eye. Drag over that desk and put it up against the door.

Did I check everything? Go room by room and recheck the windows and doors. Heart pounding. Am I safe? I am so scared. I think I have the house secured. Breathe. Breathe. Turn around and see if there is a phone to call for help. He’s standing there, his big belly stretching a faded old red shirt out over the top of his jeans. His unkempt red hair curls onto his shoulder. He is holding a gun pointed at me. He looks at me and says, “And there ain’t nothing you can do about it.”

Wake up! Wake up. My eyes snap open. My breath is coming fast. I am drenched in sweat. My body is shaking with fear. It was a dream. Just a dream. Slow my breathing. In out, in out. Tears roll down my face. Too afraid to go back to sleep now. Look out the window at the moon. It is big, round and hopeful. Just focus on the light. Lose yourself in the light.

Copyright © 2015 Kathleen Gunderman

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