Heart pounding, I jerked awake.
I turned on my lamp and dug my journal out from under my pillow. Quickly scribbling down the date, I recorded the details of the dream; they were always the same: The man would be standing in my bedroom, watching me sleep. I would wake up and he would be there, giving me a look like when I looked at a cookie I really wanted. Then he would sigh, his sigh awakening an unknown sorrow in me, and fade away. I would just lay there, wondering where the sad man came from and why his sorrow would affect me. After a while, I would fall asleep once more.
I first had that dream when I was about five. I had been told for years by my parents and teachers to pass it off as childish imagination, all the while wondering if the dream had any real meaning. Was the sad man real? Why was he in my bedroom every night? These questions had plagued my mind for a decade.
Now, though, I was in a new place. No longer did I live under my parents' roof; I had just gotten the keys to my first apartment. I walked into the kitchen, dropping the keys on the counter. My roommate, Clara, followed me in, taking in the tiny kitchen with glee. We headed back downstairs to unload the moving boxes from her truck.
Several hours later, Clara had set up camp on the couch to watch a movie, and I was in our bedroom, still wide awake. I couldn't understand it; I normally had no trouble sleeping. I decided to go to the kitchen to get a midnight snack. Clara was passed out on the couch, the menu for The Princess Bride playing in an endless loop on the TV. I turned it off, got a package of Oreos and a glass of milk, and went back to the bedroom.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived in my bedroom was that the window was open, which wasn't how I thought I had left it. I set down my food and walked over to the window, sticking my head out. There was no one in sight. Shrugging, I walked back to my bed, leaving the window open to enjoy the breeze. I lay on my bed and dunked an Oreo in my milk.
I was just dozing off when I heard a thump. I jerked awake, looking around the room. "Clara...?" I called out nervously, looking at the closed door. "This isn't funny...Clara?"
"Mary..." A voice whispered. "I've waited so long..." I turned around to see a strange man kneeling next to my bed. I jumped and moved away.
"Who the hell are you?" I demanded. "How did you get in my room?"
"You'll know soon enough." The man replied, eyes displaying clear longing. I crawled toward the other end of the bed.
"Clara!" I screamed, frantically grabbing for something, anything, I could use to get the man away from me. "Clara!" The man pulled out a gun.
"What's going on?" Clara demanded, bursting through the door with a broken chair leg. The man looked at her and loaded his gun.
"I'm sorry." He said to Clara. Then he pointed the gun at me. I screamed.
I heard two shots, then everything went black.
I opened my eyes, taking in a fancy bedroom. I was laying on a bed, my entire body covered with a sheet like I had been dead… My heart sank.
"Tom…" I whispered, touching one finger to my lips. It was all coming back to me; the car running over me as I had been walking with my husband, Tom; my nineteen years spent dead; Tom watching me sleep as a child and then bringing me back to life after I turned nineteen… I sat up, glancing at the chair where I knew my husband would be.
The chair was empty. No…
Clara must have called the police after Tom brought me back to life. He was probably still dead, sitting in a prison somewhere. I had to get to him.
I knocked on the little door of the shop, hoping the "medicine man" would be in. He opened the door, looking at me with surprise. "Oh, Mary. You're back. Where's Tom?"
"He's still dead. I need to get him back. I need to die." The medicine man nodded.
"Come with me."
After handing over a hefty sum of money, I left the shop with a tiny bottle of poison. "Just a sip, now. It should be instantaneous," he'd told me. I went back to our room, got back under the sheet, and drank the entire bottle.
Twenty years later, I finally found him. My Tom. He was still in prison, an old man, now. I went to try to visit him, only to be informed that he had passed away that morning. I knew what I had to do…
"You crashed a car into a tree to get Tom back?" The medicine man asked. "Too bad he already died to find you…"