It’s a deep, primal scream that haunts me before waking. The terror started three months ago, but all I can remember is a deafening, painful wail. It comes to torment my dreams, and leaves me with only a fear of what is to come.

        Jason peacefully sleeps beside me, and I find myself resentful. I’m reminded that he is not at fault, and the feeling fades. Softly caressing his messy mop of hair, I watch him as he dreams, wishing that I could join him. Longingly, I walk through memories of waking him to make love. I would wake him now, but the sleep deprivation prevents me — paralyzes me. His eyes begin to flicker and then drowsily open.

        “Good morning gorgeous,” he says, just like every morning — no matter how the sleepless nights have wrecked my once porcelain  face.

        I smile and kiss him. Wishing to stay in the moment forever, I linger here. Foreboding does not overwhelm me when our lips are pressed lovingly together. I pull away, slowly, savoring the fleeting bliss. In a moment, the ecstasy is gone and trepidation rules. A long sigh escapes my lips. “We’ll probably want to leave early to avoid traffic.”

        He reluctantly begins to rise. “We don’t have to. We could go in the Spring. Maybe…”

        “I want to see the leaves.”

        Concern is chiseled on his brow, but he knows me. This trip has been the light at the end of a dark, dismal tunnel. I find myself desperate to see the mountains — to relive the memories. Now that my parents are gone — violently ripped from my life — there are times when I have a hard time remembering their faces, yet times when they are vividly in front of me. The most clear memories beckon from the mountains.

 ~~~

        The storm is wild and strong. I fall in and out of consciousness for most of the ride, but now the peaks are before us, surrounded by angry clouds. Wind knocks about my small SUV, and a dread seeps up within me. The roads up to the chalet can be treacherous on the most beautiful of days with their winding curves and steep shoulders. One wrong move… Jason places his hand on my leg and the gleam in his beautiful, hazel eyes reassures me.

        The tempest seems to subside as we wind our way up the mountain. A beautiful babbling stream catches my eye. Although I know that I must be in a dream, I watch as the sun beams down on a man joyfully tossing his little girl into the air. She laughs and squeals with exhilaration. Through the air she flies on her father’s strong arms to eventually land her bare feet in the cool water. The rocks in the stream are smooth and cold on her feet and she soon begs to be airborne again.

        Tears stream hot down my face, as I am thrust back into the worsening storm. Jason is pulling into the driveway. I can’t remember ever feeling so distressed to see the chalet. We race inside, blazes of light chasing us. We aren’t fully through the threshold when Jason grabs me by the waist and kisses me deeply. Everything else melts into a muted background, and the feeling of wanting to remain in his embrace forever returns.

        “That was quite the drive. How did you sleep through it?”

        No answer comes. I know that I was in and out of waking, but I don’t feel like I’ve slept at all. He disregards my silence and leads me into the bedroom.

 ~~~

        The scream rings out louder than ever before. It’s dark. Have I been asleep for that long? Jason peacefully dozes beside me. A fog surrounds my thoughts, and I wonder how the scream did not wake him. It was so loud — so real. I slip away from his hold and, in the darkness, bump around the room in search of my gown. Thunder violently shakes the whole cabin, as I make my way into the great room. I wonder, again, how it is that Jason can sleep. Bright flashes of light immediately precede the violent booms. Outside, the trees twist and crack. I stand next to the window and watch the destruction around me. A burning white light blinds me. As my eyes search for focus, a figure appears on the other side of the pane. I know her. The nightmare — the memory of it alive within me — vividly trespasses into life, and I recoil from the window. My feet tremble in their backwards motion, away from the pale figure. I topple over the couch and land hard on the floor.

        With another blazing flash, she stands over me. She is grotesque with a mouth that gapes open as if unhinged at the jaw. Her gown is torn and singed at the edges, and her eyes are hollow. No sound comes, as I helplessly call for Jason. My feet cannot  get a grip on the floor, and I awkwardly drag myself away from the repulsive, pale lady. Finally, a piercing scream emanates from my lips. No one comes.

       My feet finally grab the floor, and can seek refuge nowhere other than out in the storm. My mind deliriously thinks that, if I can just get a door between us, I can buy time. With one flicker of light and a loud rumble, she is nose to nose with me, her empty sockets burning a hole in my mind. My feet scramble backwards, and I find myself standing on the railing of the deck. Jason is at the door, confused, asking what I am doing. I point in the direction of my living nightmare, but the pale lady is gone. Words fall from my mouth, but it’s nothing more than a tossed word salad. “Scream… Lady… Lightning…” My arms flail wildly, as I continue to babble. Jason pleads with me to come down from the banister. But she’s coming. I long to be in his arms — to kiss his lips — to be transported away and lost in the bliss — but I  know that she’s coming.

        “Come down from there!”

        My feet fidget, trying to obey. Yes! I should go to him. Jason will protect me. I just need to be in his arms, and everything will be right. My right foot slowly begins decent. A brilliant bolt surrounds me. A painful, deafening wail fiercely flows from my lips. My body violently jerks and then goes limp. I’m falling. All else fades, and I’m once again in the arms of my father, being tossed into the bright sun.

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