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Thanks to Doctorlit, for the prompt: fright, metal, chorus, and to my sister for having the same dream I did last night, three months ago. (It was not this dream. It was about a baby dragon small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, all spaghetti-thin limbs and fragile webbed wings.)

It was Katie who had it first, that summer, one of those long, breathless nights. She woke me up in the early hours of the morning, shaking my arm, her face panicked. I held her tight and told her it was a dream, mommy and daddy were safe in the other room, we were safe in our room, and everything was fine. Daylight was still a few hours off, but neither of us went back to sleep after that; both of us pretended for the other's sake.

It wasn't so bad of a dream, really, from what she said. I had a lot on my mind, but this weighed curiously in the back of it, like an echo - the hazy, confusingly juxtaposed images of a half-remembered dream. She probably stayed awake out of fear. Katie had strange dreams sometimes, but she was not usually incapacitated by them.

Falling, she said, and then-- no, not falling. Being pulled down, or up, out of the world by a horde of angels, all clad in steel armor and shouting with great voices as they flew. A pretty frightening dream, I would give her that. But I didn't really give it enough thought until it came back three months later, as the sticky summer heat began to give way to the more calming nights of frost, in autumn. Things were hectic, as they always were in September - getting John and Katie ready for school, and making sure I was ready for school, our parents always had their hands full at the start of the year. (No matter how hard you try to remember that the year starts in January, for a kid it always starts in September. Things begin again, and there's a freshness to the air that's entirely lacking in the raw moistness of that winter season.)

When I had the dream, I didn't wake anyone up. Even when it cut off abruptly, those eyes staring into my own as we watched the empty void swallow our old home entirely, and I felt myself jolted back to waking in a cold sweat. Panic was always silent for me; when I fell off my bike, no one knew what had happened until they found me in the kitchen, having fallen in my attempt to find the bandaids. Katie lay sleeping in the bed across the room, so I sat up quietly and slowly, trying to hide the gasping terror in my breath - possibly from myself. The dawn was still long hours off, but I could not have fallen asleep then. I slid out of bed, padded across to the window, and, pulling my jacket on over flannel pyjamas, climbed out onto the first-story roof to look at the night sky, reassuringly far away and full of stars.

The day before Christmas Eve, I overheard Daddy telling Mommy about it. "I don't know, Mary," he said quietly into his coffee. "It's been a long time since a nightmare took me by surprise like that." She said something back to him, but I didn't hear that part. I don't know why I didn't tell them Katie and I had had the same dream - the same legion of angels in that terrifying cold metal, the same falling-by-flight, the same roaring as we awoke.

Little John probably had the dream too, but he couldn't really talk yet, so we did never find that out.

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thulcandran

May 2013

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