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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dolls

My older brother was given to doing weird things, and being his bus mate with only a thin wall of pressed board between us was a nightmare for one who tends to sleep lightly. Night after night I was kept awake to the Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and if I did tend to fall asleep I had vague, uncomfortable nightmares that left me exhausted in the morning.

"I'm doing an experiment," my brother told me loftily when I complained to him that I wasn't getting any sleep.

In the meantime, my dolls also seemed determined not to let me get any sleep. I was waking up to them in different positions than they were in when I went to bed. My brother confessed once to rearranging them on me one time as a joke, and although I knew this another part of me wasn't reassured. I stopped being able to cope with my room alone, because when I went in there even with my brother nowhere around the oppressive presence of something waiting to get me lingered in the air.

Then the nightmares took it up a notch - and I still remember the first one. I was awake in the room, and it was night, and I was sitting on the floor by my bed. Suddenly I got up and went to the door - my room was on the side with the revolving bus door - and I opened the door to look out. Suddenly this bright light enveloped everything and all I could do was cling to the door lever for dear life, screaming and crying in terror.

Night after night, it was the same dream. Sometimes instead of the horrible bright light, I'd dream of waking up in my bed... only it also wasn't my bed. There were gauze curtains everywhere and my dolls were standing around me going to cut me up and kill me. Or my dolls were coming for me from outside, and I had to keep that door closed against them.

I had dolls of all sizes and shapes, but the one I feared the most was what we'd call a my size doll. She was about the height of a tall two year old. I had named her Mariah, after an old song by the Browns.  Before it was over, I had taken to shutting her up in my toy chest and putting heavy things on top of it to keep her from getting out. It never seemed to work.

And the nightmares never carried past the opening of the door, my screaming terror. And I stopped being able to wake up and scream my way out of it.

I was a nervous wreck when it came to that bus, although I lived in it for many years to come.