Prompt: What’s the worst nightmare you remember?
Start time: 2:15
End time: 2:45
The worst nightmare I remember wasn’t scary in a Friday the 13th sort of way, or even in an E.T. is coming to get you way. It was more of a psychological and it was one that I had over and over as a kid. Basically, my entire family minus my youngest brother (who wasn’t born yet) would visit an auto shop. Think Autozone or Pep Boys. Anyway we would be browsing when two men would come in and lock the door behind them. We were held hostage with several other customers. But, we were lucky; the men hadn’t seen us when they entered the store.
My dad, thinking quickly, would shove our entire family in between a tire display. By in between I mean sandwiched between flimsy cardboard sign and a large stack of tires. All I remember is that my dad was on one end and my brother was on the other. I was terrified. The two bad men, that’s what they were in my young mind, would slowly walk through the store looking for people; almost intently looking for someone specific. Terror built up inside of me and permeated the dream. I always woke up from the nightmare in hysterics; sobbing.
Apparently, our hiding space wasn’t that great because the men would find us. They would snatch my brother from the end and then run out of the store. He was the one they were looking for. The rest of the dream was a blur: my parents running after them while my sister and I stood mute and forgotten by the tire display. My parents frantically looking for any sign of my brother as they drove through the streets. Finally we would drive to my grandmother’s house in our Astrovan (remember those?!).
Up to this point, the dream was always the same. However, once it reached this point, it would sometimes change. Many times, it would continue along with my parents searching and searching without any luck. Sometimes, though we would drive up to my grandma’s house and the astrovan would fall into a shallow ditch that was in front of the house. The ditch would turn into a gaping hole and down, down, down we’d fall.
That particular version of the dream was the worst, because my mind correlated the free fall with hell, fire, and never seeing my family again. It was during this time that someone told me that once we died and went to heaven (or hell) we would not remember our family. I think this just added to the trauma I experienced in my dream.
I think the nightmare seeped into my conscious life because it traumatized me in small ways. For example, as a kid I enjoyed visiting auto stores with my dad (I was especially enthralled with the waxes, car fresheners, and wipers) but I would always be uneasy about what could happen. The ditch in front of my grandma’s house would sometimes really get to me and I’d go out of my way to avoid it; when we’d visit I would always get scared if my mom parked it too close to the edge of the ditch.
I think the most traumatizing part of the dream was the loss of family. I was always subconsciously aware of my brother(s). To this day, I feel more of a….motherly instinct towards them? Like, there was a time when I would walk to their side of the house and press my ear to their door to make sure I could hear them on the other side; breathing. Sometimes I would knock or holler through the door until they responded just to make sure they were alive.
The (lie?) that once we die we’d forget family really stayed with me. Truth: sometimes even now I’ll wake up terrified of death. Not the actual dying but what happens after. Being lonely and not remembering family is always the thing that scares me the most; especially being divided between heaven/hell/whatever.