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By Nely Cab
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Nely Cab
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Chapter OneI had always been able to control my dreams. I don't know how, I just could. I would take myself to beautiful far off places. I could relax by a pond or lay surrounded by buttercup shaped flowers.
My favorite was the poppy field. The golden sun was always warm and perfect on the crimson horizon. I felt at one with nature. That ended the day a stalker took over my dreams.
Nowadays, I hardly sleep.
Today I didn't have the energy to doll myself up so much. I lined my green eyes with black eye liner, followed by black mascara. My long light brown hair was ironed and ready to go.
It was hot and muggy this March morning as I made my way to school by foot. I started walking to school shortly after the dreams started, so I could be alert—coffee in hand, Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams blaring on my IPod.
As I crossed the intersection of the main street, I was tempted to stop for a refill of coffee at the gasoline station, but decided against it. My five-foot frame could only hold so much caffeine before my leg started shaking frantically.
Los Fresnos, Texas is your typical small town with a scant population of roughly 5000 inhabitants. It's the type of town where everyone knows everyone. It's located at the southernmost tip of Texas, bordering Mexico. The weather is humid, hot and sunny practically all year round. I wasn't a fan of either the heat or the humidity, but I had forcefully grown accustomed to it, having lived here my whole life.
The town is peaceful, reserved and only a few miles from several small surrounding cities—that's where the town's people do their shopping. All in all, it's a pretty monotonous place. It's a safe little town to walk around in, even at night.
My best friend, Andy, waits for me at our usual table in the cafeteria with her boyfriend, Bill. I don't have one of those anymore.
My memory recalled a three-year high school relationship with the guy I thought was destined to be my husband. His name was Gabriel Betancourt. Gabriel was now a freshman at Florida State University. He graduated early from high school, having been in an advanced program, and left immediately after his prerequisites were met. With an academic scholarship, he jumped right into the spring semester. I was so proud of him.
Gabriel's older brother, also in college, had a place of his own in Florida. It was not a surprise that he would consider leaving right after high school.
"Isis," he had said to me before he left, "I'll be back every chance I get, I promise. You won't even miss me. We'll talk on the phone every day—we'll chat, we'll text. It'll be like I never left!"
I was completely and moronically blinded by what lay ahead.
I remember looking into his brown eyes, believing every word he said.
"Whatever!" I said to myself, remembering the day of his departure.
I felt the tears start to slowly emit from my eyes and onto my round cheeks, but I quickly wiped them away. I wondered exactly how important I had really been to him. I was dumped via text message, mind you. What a cruel way to have broken up with me. The insomnia had already started.
He hadn't visited once after leaving to Florida State. He had made excuses to evade conversations with me. I had attributed his distancing to his heavy load of classes.
I was dumbfounded. I examined every detail of the last three years wondering the reasons behind this sudden change. I guess things happened for a reason, as my mother always told me.
My mother had warned me not to get too serious and persuaded me to continue having friends. Gabriel consumed all my time and my friends slowly started to dissipate from my life at one point.
"You need time for girly things," she had said, "and friends will always be there when boyfriends aren't."
Mom was knowledgeable in this area. My Dad had cheated on her so many times, that I don't know how she had the strength to endure the humility in this town. Everyone knew about his little adventures, but no one commented—at least, not to her face.
The day of their separation was hard for both of us. She told me that she was filing for divorce. I was twelve.
"My heart is done breaking", she had told me, "it's time to begin renovation on it."
She never mentioned my father's infidelity, but I always knew and I'm sure she knew that I did. I believe she hung in there for my sake. She believed strongly in family unity and fought to keep hers together. I was grateful that she sacrificed so many years of a failed marriage to let me have a somewhat normal family environment.
I was glad I listened to her now. I had at least one shoulder to cry on. Her name was Andrea "Andy" Jameson. She had been my very best friend since we were five. That's when I saved her from the frog that little Billy Nesbit had put down the back of her shirt in kindergarten. I stuck the frog in Billy's mouth to teach him a lesson, and I was suspended for a day. I would trade a lost day of school for a best friend like that anytime. We were practically inseparable, until Gabriel came along. Ironically, little Billy Nesbit was now Andy's boyfriend. He prefers to be called "Bill" now.
"Sup, guys?" I tried to sound awake and full of energy.
"How'd you sleep?" Andy asked, pulling a tube of makeup concealer out of her cosmetics bag.
"Close to three hours, I estimate," I answered, setting my book bag on the table and taking a seat, awaiting Andy to begin her daily ritual with me.
"Sleepy?" she asked.
"Mhh hmm," I moaned.
Andy took a cosmetics sponge and dabbed the makeup on it. She started covering the dark parts around my eyes that I had neglected this morning.
Bill shook his head from side to side and sighed. "Just take the pills, Isis. You look a little more like crap each passing day."
"Nice," I scoffed as Andy continued to dab, "You use that same poetic charm on Andy?"
"He's right, you know," Andy agreed as she twisted the cap back on the concealer tube.
"I'm considering it," I sighed. "I'm so exhausted of being ..." I paused to think of the right word, "exhausted." I took a deep breath and lay my chin on my arm over the table.
"So is it fear of sleep or insomnia?" Bill inquired for the third time this month.
"It makes no difference if the end result is sleepless nights," Andy answered before I could. "My dad says you only have to try the pills for a few days to see how you react to them."
"Your dad's been talking to you about me?" I wondered.
"Of course not! You know how he feels about doctor and patient confidentiality." Andy bit the right side of her bottom lip and peered at the floor. "I kinda overheard him on the phone with your mom." She bit her nail for a second. "Well, okay, I might have been eavesdropping, but with just cause. I'm worried about you." She shrugged her shoulders.
"Can we please start off the day with another topic for a change?" Bill complained. "We're young. We're supposed to be talking about music or movies, not illnesses. This isn't a normal topic of conversation to be having when you're a teenager."
"She's gotta talk about it. I don't want her to go deeper into depression," Andy snapped at Bill.
"I'm NOT depressed!" I countered in an offended tone. "Did your dad say that too?" I frowned.
Andy paused briefly before she answered.
"No," she said in almost a whisper.
"Stop trying to diagnose me. You're not a doctor, okay?" I sounded upset. "I'm just tired."
There was an awkward silence amongst the three of us for several minutes. The lull was broken by a loud shrill of laughter coming from the cheerleaders' table.
"What the hell is Jean Murphy so happy about today?" My tone was harsh.
"Well," Andy started, "you used to laugh too, remember?" She turned to view Jean, the captain of the cheerleading squad.
"Her voice just gets under your skin. Make her stop," I grinded my teeth and held my head with both hands leaning over the table.
Bill stood from the table and grabbed his notebook.
"Nope, she's not depressed," he said addressing Andy but referring to me. "She's aging prematurely and at a rapid rate. She's a grumpy old woman. That's what she is."
Bill managed to make me smile. Andy giggled and smacked him a kiss on the cheek.
"Let's get to class before the student stampede starts," Andy urged me.
School dragged on as usual. Lunch was dull and after a long day of assignments, classes finally ended.
After school Bill and Andy drove me to Dr. Jameson's office where I would meet my mother. Before walking into the office, I watched them drive down Ocean Boulevard, the town's main street. Bill's red '67 Ford Mustang revved. He was so proud of his car.
My mother, Claire, was already seated in the waiting room. She worked half a block away at the county courthouse as an administrative assistant to the judge.
Claire was thirty-five years old. She had put herself through night school after the divorce and obtained an associated degree as a paralegal. Shortly after the divorce, my dad passed away of a sudden heart attack. He was thirty-one years old at the time.
My mom was hot. She had beautiful brown hair, huge copper brown eyes and a body to kill for. I didn't understand why in the world she was single. She was jovial and fun to be with. She always told me Mr. Right hadn't shown up on her doorstep yet.
"Hey, mom," I greeted her.
"Hi hon. How're ya holding up today?"
"I'm okay," I lied.
The doctor's assistant called me in to Dr. Jameson's office before my mother had a chance to bombard me with a list of questions about symptoms of depression. She'd been making mental notes from the T.V. commercials she watched and I'm almost positive I saw her Googling several times. Suddenly everyone I trusted wanted to play doctor.
Dr. Jameson was seated behind his desk when I walked into the consult room. He was the only one allowed to bombard me with depression questions as far as I was concerned.
"Am I asymptomatic of depression, Dr. Jameson?"
"Isis, I can't diagnose you with depression or any other illness other than insomnia. The only thing I can suggest is to take the medication I prescribed so you can sleep. It's obvious that the fear of this recurring dream has the upper hand in your case.
"You need to let the dream play out. I'm certain that you'll see that there is, in fact, nothing to fear and, therefore, ease the anxiety."
I told the doctor I had started writing the journal he suggested, hoping he'd veer away from the medication issue. Unfortunately, I was not victorious. He insisted on having me take the medication he prescribed that night.
After twenty minutes or so of trying to sway me, I politely refused. This resulted in his calling my mother into his office after he was done with me.
As we walked to the car I noticed my mother's brow line was deeply creased. She was either very upset, very deep in thought, or both.
"You're taking that pill tonight, Isis," she sternly advised me as soon as we were in the car.
"Absolutely not, mother," I said trying to keep my calm.
"I'm not asking you. I'm telling you, Isis," her voice sounded threatening. She put the key in the ignition but did not turn it.
"Don't you think I deserve a little compassion? I work all day, I feed you, I do your laundry, I do all the house chores and I haven't had a sound night's sleep in two months because I keep getting up to check on you. I need to rest too, Isis. We don't have the luxury of having a man in our lives to care for us. We have to take care of each other."
My mother's eyes started to redden. Claire was a strong woman—not prone to tears very often, but, recently, she had become more emotional for some reason. I felt so guilty.
"Mom, c'mon don't cry," I reached over to her.
"I'm concerned, Isis. You don't sleep, you hardly eat ... are you on drugs? Tell me what it is and I promise I won't get mad. I promise," she sniffled.
"Mom, I am not on drugs and I'm not doing this to you on purpose." I had been so preoccupied with myself that I didn't bother to think of her and what she was going through. I took in a deep breath and exhaled before uttering the words: "I'll take the pill, mom. I'll take it tonight, okay?"
I glanced at the clock; it was nearing ten. My mother reached across the kitchen table, handing me a glass of water and the infamous sleeping pill. I sighed, setting the pill on the table and stared at it.
Truthfully, I was scared to take the pill. I was afraid of not being able to wake from my slumber, afraid of having to see that hideous grey figure.
"You promised me," Claire set her hand on her waist.
I glanced at my mother and grimly smiled.
"I know," I said taking the little white pill in one hand and the glass of water in the other.
"It tastes disgusting." I gagged as the pill started dissolving on my tongue. I quickly took a drink and flushed it down.
"You're such a baby," Claire mumbled, walking out of the kitchen.
I found my mother lying next to me at 3:30 A.M. as I woke from that lucid nightmare once more. I must have slept at least five hours. Though physically I felt a little better, emotionally, I was a mess.
The medication was still at large inside my body. I felt drowsy but had enough energy to fight it. I wouldn't let myself dream horribly, twice in one night.
Claire felt me creep out of bed and followed me downstairs to the living room.
"Go back to bed, Mom," I whispered.
She shook her head, slurred something inaudible and fell asleep on the couch. I watched her sleep for a few minutes thinking about how long she had tolerated all those sleepless nights.
I didn't tell her I wasn't able to sleep until a month passed, for fear that she might do just this-stay up with me. And to think she'd have to work tomorrow while I could slack off at school.
My mom didn't want me to work while I was still in high school. She said it was okay to be sheltered when you were a kid, and that I would appreciate having been able to enjoy my youth when I was older.
Mom began to work at the age of fourteen as a waitress at the only sit down restaurant that existed in town at that time. I don't know if that was legal back then. Not that she was that old. She had me at the tender age of eighteen, having married my dad fresh out of high school.
Mom and Dad had been high school sweethearts, and she had gotten pregnant two months before their high school graduation. I guess, unconsciously she always worried that I would end up with her same fate, but she needn't fret over that anymore. I grabbed a quilt from the coat closet and softly placed it over my poor, tired mother.
As it was still fresh in my mind, I started jotting my dream down in my journal on the kitchen table.
Journal Entry 4, 4:03 A.M.
The sleeping aid did its job. I fell asleep within half an hour of taking it. I wish it hadn't worked at all.
I saw you with a little more detail this time. You're a muscular human etch with a darkness about you. My heart raced as I watched you in the distance walking toward me, snarling. I slept a full five hours before you ran toward me menacingly and I woke in a cold sweat.
The doctor wasn't right about letting my dream play out. I'm more afraid than I had been in our previous encounters.
I fear you, but I won't live like this anymore. I'm going to confront you tonight. Tear me apart if you want, but you will haunt me no more!
* * *
Writing down my thoughts didn't take very long, and I still had two hours to go before I started getting ready for school. Time goes by slowly when there's nothing good on T.V., there's no one to talk to, or nothing to do. Waiting for the sun's rays must be a virtue.
Claire opened my bedroom door as I curled the ends of my hair with my flat iron. Her hair was pulled back in a bun, and she looked rested and beautiful in her pantsuit.
"Hun, I left you some pancakes on the table. Call Dr. Jameson to tell him how you felt after taking the pill. Keep the caffeine intake to a minimum today and please, please remember to lock the front door—you've been so absent minded lately." She said it all in one breath.
"Will do," I said, twisting the flat iron on the last strand of hair that needed curling.
Claire walked over to me and kissed my head, "Thanks for taking the medication, baby. You have no idea how relieved I am." She took one last look at me before she closed the door and smiled.
Excerpted from Creatura by Nely Cab Copyright © 2011 by Nely Cab. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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