I woke up in my overheating bedroom at about 1:30am last Thursday morning, in a tangle of duvet and pillows. I rolled over and saw her sitting on the floor between the wardrobe and the door. This girl had long dark hair, parted in the middle. Her face was pale and lifeless. Her legs were tucked to the left and she was just sitting there - quietly, in my bedroom.
I was startled. Quite startled. Good sense told me I must be dreaming, strange dead girls don't go around sitting in strangers bedrooms outside horror movies. But then again, I was new to this room, it might be her room, I might be the stranger. No, this was a dream, a vivid, detailed dream, but I do often dream that way - like that time when I was 6 and I thought I had a pineapple Fruju in my hand and couldn't believe my luck - but upon lifting my sleepy head from the pillow and trying to take a bite of the tasty cool fruitiness, it dissolved into my waking state to find my hand held nothing.
She was vivid and real, this girl sitting in my room, but split second reasoning told me there was no way could be there, I must still be dreaming, she must be inside my head – was I trying to convince myself? What if she really was there. She might be real. I elbowed myself up and shook my head to rattle my senses back into place, squeezed my eyes shut and marvelled at my how detailed this vision was. I was also pretty impressed with how calm I was being considering how anxious I was feeling. I opened my eyes expecting to see her gone, but she was still there!
Now I was really quite frightened. I blinked and blinked again and sat up. She continued to sit, staring into the darkness - not at me, but past me and at nothing. She reminded me of the bedraggled well-drowned girl in The Ring, she wasn't scary as much as disquieting. She definitely didn't look alive even though she looked very real.
I reached my hand out towards her. Was I going to feel her hair? her shoulder? was she going to have substance? What would I do when I connected with her? Would I panic? I was pretty close to doing that as it was.
She remained still and staring as my hand slowly extended from my bed towards her. The fingertips of my outstretched hand connected with something solid though it didn’t feel alive, in fact, it didn’t feel like the shape I was looking at all. It was my Crumpler camera bag, it’s thick strap draping down a stack of boxes and realised it was an illusion of shapes and shadows.
I growled myself for being silly and humpfed over, pulling the covers around me, my back to the shadows against the wall. Still afraid of the dark, Michelle. Still able to scare myself into a nervous wreck from the comfort of my own bed after all these years. Would I ever actually grow up?
But I didn’t really feel any better for knowing she was a pile of boxes. I turned a little, and looked again. She was still there – I knew what she was, she wasn’t real. But I was too anxious to sleep with my back to her. I rolled over again to face her, and closed my eyes and drifted back to sleep.
I woke again at 4am and she was still sitting there. More dead girl and less boxes than ever. She didn’t need to sneak around in my dreams, she was in my real world.
The next morning I dismantled the pile. She was gone, I thought, but she haunted me during the day. Even though I could no longer see her in my room, the thought of her kept me from sleeping. Tangled, overheated sheets woke me up night after night and she was my only thought. It’s crazy: I’m an adult. I know from real – I tell myself over and over but, feelings and thoughts seem to occupy different parts of me – one part I can control, and one part I can’t.
Over the last week, I have learned to sleep with a dead girl in my bedroom.