New Fiction: “Nightmare” by Patricia Martarella

It was the best kind of nightmare, vivid and lucid in its ability to persuade my belief; intoxicating realness. I sat transfixed in my room, identical to the place I’d spent many nights restlessly awake and hopelessly alone and achingly satiated for the last three years of my young adulthood. My window was open, as it always was in the summertime, allowing the citrus breeze of lemon trees to

The Dagger Digital Art  by Phil Slattery

The Dagger
Digital Art
by Phil Slattery

permeate the air.

The familiar hum of my neighbor’s lawnmower meant that it was a Saturday morning and her nephew had almost finished his weekly grooming of her yard, just before the airing of the telenovela Mrs. Garcia never missed would come sounding through the barren hallways of my home. Stacks of bills on my desk were begging to be paid, last night’s dishes remained in the sink, awaiting my meticulous attention, my phone buzzed on the night stand to the left of my bed over and over and over again with my mother’s frustration of not being answered.

My mind had conjured a perfectly mirrored image to that of my regular, mediocre life. It was an inarguably ordinary snapshot of systematic routine and order with but one glaring exception.

And that’s what made it so horrifying.

I sat on the floor, at the foot of the bed, legs sprawled carelessly in front of me as I methodically pressed my fingers into the saturated carpet, allowing dark, crimson pools to envelop the base of my palm as the whirr of the lawnmower hummed on. I released the pressure, then applied it again, admiring the outline of my handprint temporarily imbedded in the once-ivory carpet.

Who knew people were full of so much blood?

My opposing arm was thrown haphazardly over my torso, allowing an incredible amount of red ooze to trickle from the unobstructed hole in my side between my trembling fingers.

Beside my face his foot hung off the bed and I wondered when he would wake up to see what last night’s episode had caused, to see what we’d done to one another this time.

But it was a nightmare and I questioned my ability to wake from it first, before the appalling encounter would have to take place. Surely even dreams could bare consequences of the conscious.

“Wake up,” I heard my raspy voice resound. I’m not sure if I was talking to him or myself as my eyes fixated on distant nothing, noting the dulling throb in my chest as my voice pressed against the silence.

If you die in your dream, do you die in real life?

If someone else dies in your dream, do they die in real life?

Neither of us moved.

“Wake up!” I said louder, my breath wheezing in and out roughly as I twisted, abandoning the hole in my torso to slap his foot beside my head with my bloodied hand.

With much effort I anchored myself to the cedar chest at my left and pushed upward to stand, balancing precariously on the side that wasn’t sending shooting pains through my body.

He was certainly a sight to behold, naked but for the shorts he’d worn home from the gym, his matted strawberry blonde hair cascading over his face, obstructing my view of his glorious jawline and dimple-pitted cheeks. He lay on his stomach, his rippling alabaster back no longer beating up and down against his struggle for breath last night, riddled with punctures from the kitchen knife ceremoniously asleep on the pillow beside his head.

I fell forward then, onto the stiff splay of his body, smearing new stains of crimson along my body as I crawled up towards his face.

“Exactly what we deserved, isn’t it?” I asked.

His cold eyes stared beyond me, glaring at death.

I leaned forward, pressing my lips to the clammy grey of his forehead, tasting the iron of blood from either myself or him, I couldn’t tell.

My own eyes closed against the sight of him, my body loosening to the sound of the telenovela weaving through my brain, disrupted only by the sound of my vibrating phone, summoning me to a conversation I would never have.

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