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Awake

By Ananya Saxena


‘I saw that dream again. This happens quite often. And I always try to get out of it. But everything I do ends up being futile. It is like I’m stuck in a loop. And it is always the same- I am sitting on my sofa, with hands on my knees and my back straight. I remember it too well because it is unusual- I never sit like that. I am always staring at my living room TV with the static screen and noise. I had bought that TV with my husband, when we first moved in this nice little cottage. He was never much of a sucker for movies or TV shows but he would always watch with enthusiasm, just for me. And we used to have movie nights here every now and then. But it has never been like this; never static.


While I stare at it, I know my cheeks are damp from all the pitter patter that rained down my eyes. But neither can I blink nor can I move. My spine has a wincing pain and my body is stiff. I take shivering breaths. I can feel a shadow looking at me from the periphery- from the ominous dark corner, waiting to lurk. And even though I have been in this very dream a thousand times, it always takes me a while to realize that I am the shadow. My consciousness resides in it. I can feel my seated body’s pain but my shadow self can move. So, I take my first step and suddenly my surroundings come alive. Like when you find your ears blocked, you hear muffled noises and once you pop them open, everything is clear again. It is only then I feel the heat of the soft sand beneath my feet and the static noise of ocean waves on the beach coming from the TV. The familiarity makes me smile a little. Our home was onshore. We used to surf on the mighty waves. We both loved the ocean dearly.

He loved to take risks while I was cautious; always.

I can never hold on to these memories for too long so I walk towards myself and try to cup my face, but my hands pass through. I pay no heed to it and hear my dog, Ollie, bark outside. So, I slowly move and reach out for the main door. I turn the handle to unlock it but it is jammed. I look out of the window and see my husband with his surfboard, standing not too far from Ollie. It is an awfully familiar bark; somehow, I can tell she’s worried. I decide to go for the back door. Finding it latched from above, I stand on my tip toe. And suddenly I feel a particular twitch in my legs and I fall to my knees- the same wincing pain, up and down my spine. The force holding me back felt so overwhelmingly powerful. But I gather up the courage to get up again, pull the latch down and rush through my backyard before and if I fall again.

The feeble wind gets stronger as I reach the front fence and call out for Ollie; once, twice, and thrice. Something happens when I call out the third time- a thud. The wind starts swirling in front of me and for a second I worry for my husband. He has always been a little too brave. I know he would still go to surf, even in such a harsh weather. So, I try to fight the dust cyclone and look for him. I find his pale body on surfboard, lying on his stomach and I go in complete shock. The wind suddenly stops when I try to pull him over. I squeeze his hand and try to wake him up when he takes in a heavy breath and coughs. I feel a rush of relief and pull him into a kiss the moment he looks at me and smiles. I close my eyes- the known touch brings back all our memories.

The wind picks up again, circling us. So, I reach to tuck my hair behind my ears and pull back to realize how stiff and cold my husband’s body was. My eyes grow wider as I watch his head fall back lifeless when I let it go. He looks paler than before. His widely open eyes look into my alive ones. And I know it is too late. I know he did not even wake up. I remember everything. All the other memories come rushing back. His body demolishes into dust and swirls around me. But I close my eyes again and I recall a poem he wrote for me. 



“You’ve been in love with her,

For the longest time.

You stir,

Her voice was like a wind chime.

And when she held your hand,

You were talking sweet.

She kissed you on the land,

Yet in air were your feet.”


My kiss wasn’t as magical as you thought, Ethan.

Tears fall down. And then- I am back on the sofa. Same position; it is like I never moved. I don’t even open my eyes, they are just- open. The muffled static noise comes back. I start staring into the oblivion again; the shadow, Ollie, my husband- I forget everything.’

‘How do you wake up then?’ the lady sitting in front of me asks. She takes a sip from her cup. Sitting outside a sophisticated coffee shop, a light breeze passes me by and I can tell she’s ready to analyse every word I say.

‘I don’t know, I never do. I only remember this dream as a loop. I don’t remember when and how I wake up or what I do to wake up. I know that I take every path possible to get out of the house, just so I can sa-’

‘Myra, you have to let him go. Ethan is gone. And you have to stop blaming yourself for what happened.’ 

Her words cut me deep like a knife. I know she’s telling me the truth. But I was frustrated and did not even care enough to see why Ollie was barking outside that day. I was too late.

‘I am haunting myself, aren’t I?’

Somehow, I know what she’s going to say. But she doesn’t say it this time. I never noticed this before but her face looks kind of- morphed? Why is she never the same? Was her face always covered with her hair? She seems to be putting up a creepy smile. Suddenly, the aura around her is eerie. Her breaths have become heavier. She goes for her cup again with her wrinkled hands. The dirty water drips all over her as she takes another sip. She was never supposed to be terrifying.

HOW DO YOU WAKE UP? 

Her voice echoes in my head. I look at her and it’s almost as if she is whispering. Why can’t I recall?

I feel perplexed as the lingering questions engulf me as a whole.

You always come back.

She gives out a little growl which sends shivers down my spine. She wants me to continue this.

But maybe it is time. I should head home.

‘I know what to do this time,’ I assure her with a frail voice.

I am afraid.

I close my eyes again. She reaches out for my hand and squeezes it- a little too tight. I don’t feel as calm and reassured as I would have. I take a deep breath and let a tear drop run down my face.

I am back on the sofa. Always the same. I am staring at my living room TV with a static screen and a static noise. I can feel the dampness on my cheeks but I cannot move. I cannot even blink. My body is rigid. I feel the sinister eyes of the shadow upon me. And I am the shadow yet again. I place my foot forward on the warm sandy floor and the muffled sound breaks. I can hear Ollie barking outside. But instead of going for the front door, I walk towards the sofa, and sit back. I keep my body lean and tight. And I know I’ll keep staring into this abyss static screen till the end. I count in my mind.


One


Two


Three


I’m awake.


By Ananya Saxena



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Mrunsi
Mrunsi
Feb 13
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This one deserves to win

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Monika Bhardwaj
Monika Bhardwaj
Feb 06
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Its really wonderful Ananya....

Keep writing

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Ankit Kohli
Ankit Kohli
Feb 06
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Amazing talent Ananya.

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Saurabh Pandey
Saurabh Pandey
Feb 06
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Flows nicely. And gripping.

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Niraj Srivastava
Niraj Srivastava
Feb 06
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.
…… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.

Friedrich W. Nietzsche

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