The Dream That Haunts Me


The Dream That Haunts Me


I’m walking down a long, featureless hallway, the tan carpeting firm beneath my flipflop-shod feet. Men and women, chatting with each other, pass me at intervals. They ignore me, and I realize I’m less than half their height; perhaps they don’t really see me. I try to speak, but the words are garbled, the gibberish of a madman.

I’m on my way to the kitchen, the only place I’m allowed to eat. I know the others in this sprawling home – maybe it’s an institution, they haven’t told me – saunter down to a large dining room where they take their meals; it’s off-limits to me. Whenever I arrive in the kitchen, I’m alone, and my meal is already set down on the broad marble island. Every day, it’s the same: Rice Chex with milk for breakfast, a ham and cheese sandwich on rye for lunch, and spaghetti with meatballs for dinner. I try to use the microwave to heat my dinner, but it’s broken; the door swings awkwardly, like a broken gate, and won’t close.

My room is a comfortable prison. I have a lovely queen bed with a beige comforter and a sturdy mahogany headboard. There is a spacious closet, but I have very few clothes hanging inside, and I don’t change clothes often. There’s a soft armchair, the color of celadon, and books – mostly classic fiction – are arranged on a built-in bookshelf. Reading them is my chief activity, for I’m not allowed outside (a mustachioed man in a suit has turned me away whenever I’ve approached a door) and the two windows in my room are nailed shut. The nails are speckled with rust. I can see little outside, because the glass is scratched and frosted, but I can make out the silhouettes of large trees.

Nights are the worst. Someone from the hallway locks my door with an audible click precisely at 10, and then I face the long hours before daybreak. The walls creak, and there is occasional scratching at the windows, soft but insistent, that awakens me; the source is a mystery. Many nights I’m half-awake for long stretches, consumed with thoughts. I was a wife once, I think, and I believe I had a child, a daughter with straight dark hair, black as a raven’s wing. But I can’t bring up her face, and if I had a husband, his image has faded into oblivion, effaced with the passage of time. Usually, the dream ends with me in bed, staring at the door. A few times, it has ended with a cloaked figure approaching the bed, reaching out a skeletal arm, and me voicelessly screaming.

Maybe I am mad, and this is an asylum. But they won’t tell me, and I can’t communicate. This is truly a vision of the damned.


Jeffrey Marshall


Jeffrey Marshall is a writer, novelist and poet from Scottsdale, AZ. He is the author of four books, including the novels Little Miss Sure Shot and Undetected, as well as a book of collected poems, River Ice. His short fiction has appeared in Bright Flash Literary Review and other online publications.


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