Kaylee R., 15, MI
At first, she slept soundly, the covers up to her chin, her arms down at her sides. She found comfort in the silent darkness and finally, after hours of analyzing the ceiling cracks, her eyelids drooped and she gratefully let them shut. Her body sat still like a corpse on a slab of stone in the morgue. Anyone could walk in, think her dead, and start to pull out tools to dissect her brain, finding her darkest fear. In fact, this was what was happening right now. Her brain was deceiving her, lulling her into a false sense of security, before tearing it from beneath her feet.
Soon enough, she started to squirm.
The covers, once giving her the feeling of safety, now became a tomb, entrapping her in unwanted heat. She unknowingly threw them off as she tried to will herself to wake up. Sweat fell off her forehead and the first of her cries started.
"Stop it," She whispered. Her voice came out in a garbled rasp. Wherever her mind took her, whatever she was seeing, she wanted it to stop. Her head would give her no such pleasure.
After several long and agonizing moments of tossing and turning and trying to escape her night terror, her eyes flew open and her throat caught in the middle of a scream. She grabbed her pillow, desperately trying to find hold of something real. She pushed herself up into a sitting position and looked around as she tried to slow her breathing. It made no difference that her eyes were open, it was dark silence all around her. Once calming, now suffocating. She scrambled for her phone and switched on the flashlight. This offered some comfort. She took deep breaths and stared at the closet door from across the room. Slowly, surely, she felt better.
After a few moments, she heard a shy knock on her bedroom door. She made some kind of noise indicating that the knocker could enter, probably her mother. For a moment she was embarrassed with herself, thinking she had screamed in her sleep again.
To her surprise, it was not her mother coming to check on her. It was a brown eyed, brown haired boy, with a worn black jacket on. The one he always wore, no matter the weather. He stuck his head through the gap in the opened door. He looked tired, just woken, complete with messy hair and dark circles under his eyes. His voice came out in a whisper.
"Kasey?" He asked. "You okay?" Kasey's ears turned red, and suddenly she was thankful her phone light was dim. So she HAD screamed in her sleep.
Kasey quickly nodded her head. "Mmhm, fine."
Danny looked sympathetic, knowing that tone of hers. Knowing it was a lie. He entered the room completely, shutting the door behind him, and began walking over to her bed. He sat down on it.
This particular boy, Kasey was fond of. Danny was his name. Danny Anders. Meeting him was a fantastic accident, and when they saw each other, there was no turning back. Starting out as the best of friends, they did everything together. He helped her gain confidence in herself where insecurities used to lay. She helped him gain confidence in his music. He loved music. That's what he wanted to do. And when his fingers hit that piano and words came from his mouth, she became entranced with his songs. He was not proud of his music, afraid at first to show it to even her. But Kasey coaxed him and helped him and assured him, and he slowly, surely, made a whole album with his brother and friends. Twelve songs, and all of them were about Kasey. It was unbelievable. And Kasey fell in love from the first chord. The first word.
She sometimes sat in her room at night, clutching the CD in her fingers, never wanting to let go. Kasey tried desperately to encourage Danny to release it and try to make some money. But he declared that the music was for her and no one else. Kasey was disappointed, however, she was kind of happy that these amazing songs were made just for her. Something no one else could have. Needless to say, Kasey fell for Danny right away.
Not long after the "album release", Danny asked to be Kasey's steady. That day was their first kiss. A moment she will never forget.
He was silent for a moment before taking a completely right wild guess. "Another nightmare?"
Kasey's eyes made friends with the floor, and she silently nodded her head yes. Soon after this, she felt a cool hand in hers, and immediately she felt better. Tension she didn't realize was in her muscles released, and she felt like sleep was an option again. Danny's company always seemed to do that to her. He always had a calming effect on her. Just looking up at him filled her with warmth.
"Can you...tell me what it was about?" Danny asked in a hushed tone. Although, he said it as if he already knew the answer.
Kasey went silent. She knew he knew. They had been happening for nights and nights now. The night terrors had plagued her for so long, she shivered at the thought of going to bed. "What do you think Dan?" She said sadly. Kasey let her eyes flicker to the floor again and she absentmindedly grabbed a strand of her hair, starting to twist it between her fingers.
Blonde hair. One shade lighter, and it would be bleach blonde. Her mother said it was the brightest head of hair she'd ever seen. Fit for a model, she said. Kasey never knew about that, but the brightness, she could agree on. Even now, in the barely lit room, the light from her phone reflected off the single strand. One thing she likes to take pride in. Take care of. Kasey almost smiled at this thought. But right now wasn't really the time to smile, and the moment passed quickly.
"Was it about this again?" Danny said abruptly. Kasey jumped slightly, and her eyes darted up to him. He was half smiling. That cute little smirk that made her want to kiss him every time she saw it. But, not this time. Something about it. It seemed off.
In fact, this whole situation seemed a little off. Now that Kasey focused on him, Danny seemed skinnier than he usually was. His jacket hung around him like a drape, its form given away to bagginess. Besides, Danny's house was almost a town away from her, he wouldn't be in her house at this time of night. Everything seemed a little lopsided. The closet door a little too far to the left. Her phone light a little too dim. Danny's hand in hers a little too cold. It was when she realized this that she noticed what Danny was holding in his other hand.
A very menacing looking gun.
Kasey jumped back away from Danny instinctively, and looked at him, almost in shock. A stone seemed to drop in her stomach.
"What the hell are you doing with that?" She demanded, her voice trembling. To her, this was no ordinary gun. Somehow, she knew this gun. Somehow, she knew how many bullets where in that gun. And somehow, she knew where that one bullet was going.
"What Kasey?" Danny asked in a sing songy voice. "Don't you remember this?" He held the gun chamber to his head. "You should remember it now."
Kasey barely had time to scream before Danny pulled the trigger.
He landed in a crumpled heap on the bed, blood pooling around his head.
This time, waking didn't come with resolution. It came with greater panic. The silence around Kasey was deafening. The darkness, stifling. Her hands seized up and refused to release their grip on the covers. She couldn't go for her phone if she wanted to, it was the last thing on her mind anyway. Thoughts jumped in and out of her head, but the only one that remained clear was the image of Danny's body falling back on her bed. Somehow, the smell of singed hair still pervaded the room. Kasey felt the urge to vomit.
Her ears were ringing. Or maybe that was her own screaming. She couldn't make anything out. She couldn't breathe right, or barely at all. Her heart played an irregular tune. The vague thought that this was what it felt like to die crossed her mind.
Kasey had had panic attacks before. She knew the routine. She knew what worked for herself when she had them. Find three things you can feel, two things you can see, one thing you can taste. Two of those couldn't be done. Her hands wouldn't work and her eyes still searched in blackness.
She could taste blood on her tongue though, she bit it. This was not an ordinary panic attack. She had never felt this disoriented before. She didn't even feel like a person. All she felt was Danny's blood and all she heard was the gunshot and all she saw was his body and all she could think was 'hes dead'.
Kasey didn't know how long it was before she came back enough to pick up her phone and dial Danny. Maybe minutes. Maybe an hour. But she was grateful when her body finally let her reach out to grab it.
As she waited for Danny to pick up, she kicked her covers off of her. She was sweating all over and she felt her hair stuck to the back of her neck. Kasey crossed her legs and waited nervously.
"Hey, Danny here. I can't get to my phone right now, leave your name and your number and I'll get to you as soon as I can. Thanks." That was something Kasey did not want to hear. She felt her heart beat pick up and thoughts started to go through her head again. Did something happen to him? Is he okay? No, it's three in the morning, he has to be asleep. But what if he..? What if he..? What if..?
She dialed him again.
And a third time.
And a fourth time.
By the fifth call, tears were starting to come down.
This fifth time however, a tired voice answered Kasey. She was flooded with relief.
"Hey," He said. He sounded like he just woke up. I wonder why that could be.
"Are you okay?" Kasey's voice came out more desperate than she meant it to. Silence followed for a few moments on the other end.
"What?" Danny replied.
"Are you okay Danny?" She repeated a bit louder. This time, the pause was longer, and Kasey started to feel foolish. Of course he was okay. Of course he didn't shoot himself. Of course he's alive. The logical part of her brain made her want to slap herself, but the other part still saw his body on her bed.
"Are you? Kasey?" Danny asked. He sounded more awake now. She heard shuffling on his side and thought he was probably in a sitting position now. She felt horrible for waking him up.
She hesitated before answering. "I...uh... y-yeah. Im..I'm fine. I was just being stupid. Sorry for waking you up, good night." Kasey started to pull the phone away from her ear, but heard Danny yell, "Wait wait!" Slowly, she put the phone back to her ear.
"What is it Danny?" She asked, almost inaudibly. Even through the phone, she could feel his hands reaching out to her, wanting to embrace her in them. How she wished that could happen right now.
"You don't sound fine Kasey. Was it another ni-"
"Don't." Kasey's tone came out firmer than she meant. "Don't say it. Please don't say it. I don't want to talk about that."
"Okay, I won't," Danny replied. His breathing was slow and steady, unlike her own. "What do you want to talk about then?"
A pause. "I don't know."
So they didn't talk about anything. Kasey lied down on her bed and brought the covers up to her chin. She held the phone to her ear, and they listened to each other's silence. Each other's breathing. It gave Kasey the feeling of safety, knowing that Danny was there, even though he wasn't technically there. She listened to his breath, and vice versa. This was the first time Kasey did this with Danny. When they would call, she felt the need to actually TALK. Whenever there would be a lull in conversation, it would feel awkward. Like she had done something wrong. Not this time. This time, Kasey felt something she hadn't felt in a while. Relaxation. And while she wished Danny was there to hold her, she was grateful enough for his phone call.
Soon, the unthinkable happened.
Kasey felt her eyes get heavy, which surprised her. At first, she tried to stay awake for fear of what would happen in her dreams. But for some reason, she felt that after this time of just feeling Danny's presence, she would be okay.
Before she gave herself into sleep, she whispered three words into her phone. After a pause, Danny replied. Just in time before Kasey fell under.
"I love you too Kasey."