Waking Nightmares

It was a clever lie, a little white lie. Ryan meant no harm. In fact, the truth caused harm, not the lie, or so he told himself. If Christy knew…Ryan shuddered at the thought. He hated looking into her blue eyes and holding back; he wished he didn’t have to.

 

Ryan yawned. Sleep wasn’t far off. Although he couldn’t stop it, nothing could keep him from trying. Ryan gulped the rest of his coffee and took a look around. Darkness was coming, and Christy would be coming over tonight after work. He thought of the conversation they had the weekend prior.

 

“We’ve been dating for two months already, and you still haven’t told me what you do for a living,” Christy said as she leaned into his lap with her blonde hair spread out onto his bed. She batted her long lashes.

 

“Sweetie, I told you. It’s not interesting. Not like your job. I love hearing your stories about the advertising pitches you write. You’re so creative.” Ryan tried to change the topic.

“Why do you have those bruises all the time?”

 

Ryan forced a laugh. “I’m not the most graceful guy at the gym.”

 

Christy raised an eyebrow. “So, what do you do during the day?”

 

“Okay, don’t be disappointed, but I’m an over-glorified secretary. Y’know, I organize other people’s lives to make sure things go smoothly.” It was partly true, except he did it at night, while others slept.

 

Christy smiled. “Nothing wrong with that.”

 

Ryan bent down and kissed her forehead. “No, I guess not.”

 

Christy twirled a strand of hair around her fingertips. “Think I can spend the night tonight?”

 

Ryan tried to hide the look of despair. “Nothing in the world would make me happier, but we can’t. Not yet.”

 

Christy had assumed he was being a gentlemen. Truth be told, Ryan didn’t want to lose her. If she were to witness what happened to him when he closed his eyes at night, she wouldn’t understand. It was too early to risk endangering her. Besides Dr. Sarke wasn’t through running the tests to determine what was really happening to him. The doctor couldn’t deny the bruises and scratches that appeared on Ryan’s body every morning, but he also couldn’t explain it. Every night Ryan fought off demons who were trying to overtake the bodies of his loved ones. Christy was just another name to add to the list of those he already raced against time to protect.

 

Ryan yawned again. He needed sleep, but sleep was exactly the thing he feared. What if tonight he fell asleep while he and Christy lay in bed watching movies?

 

The doorbell rang—she’s here.

 

He let her in, they kissed hello, and she surprised him by announcing, “I love you.”

 

“You know I feel the same, but there’s something you need to know.”

 

She tilted her head and smirked. “Sweetie, don’t you understand by now?”

 

Ryan held his breath in confusion. He was the one with the secret.

 

“Stop fighting me already. Join me.” Christy’s fingers moved up his arm and caressed his cheek, then lightly tugged on brown ringlets at the nape of his neck. “You don’t need to worry anymore.”

 

He stepped back. “You’ve known all along? Why didn’t you tell me? Whose side are you on?” His back hit against the wall.

 

Her lips reached for his. “I’ve been getting closer to you. Now, you’re ready to know. I want you to stay with me.” Suddenly, a sinister smile flickered through her eyes.

 

Ryan knew he shouldn’t. He felt it was wrong, but he somehow couldn’t fight it, or didn’t have the desire to. He let her lead him to the couch. Christy’s arms locked around his body in a tight embrace and he allowed sleep to overtake him. He turned to face whom he had been running away from and fighting against. As Christy unmasked herself from the black fumes, he knew it was true.

 

She had won. Her spirit melted into his; they were now one. 

 

 

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2017 © Amanda LaPera