Sunday Storytelling is where I post a piece of fiction on Sunday. It might be a complete short story, a snippet of a work in progress, a character sketch, a response to one of the thousands of creative writing prompts I’ve collected through the years. Most of them won’t be polished or “final,” so feedback and criticism is welcome, but please be constructive in your comments. Read other Sunday Storytelling pieces here.
“AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! AAAAHHHH! AHHH!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHH!”
Rachel was screaming. She couldn’t see anything, but she could feel something reaching for her. Hands grabbing at her. She felt as if she’d been sprinting for miles. She gasped for breath and screamed again.
“Shhh! Shh, calm down, calm down, calm down! Rachel! Shh, it’s okay, it’s okay!” Mitch was the one holding onto Rachel, trying to hold her still as she kicked and flailed and got tangled in the bedsheets.
Finally, Rachel’s desperate screams stopped and her limbs stilled. She lay back on the pillows, taking short, gasping breaths as her heart rate slowly returned to normal. Mitch propped himself up on one elbow to watch her. He pushed her hair out of her hair and cupped her cheek in his hand. “What happened?”
Rachel looked up at Mitch, taking in her surroundings. Her room. Her bed. Her boyfriend, who had just moved in with her last month. She took a few more deep, shuddering breaths as she tried to comprehend what had happened. Had it just been a nightmare? A night terror? She couldn’t remember anything, just screaming and the sensation that she was being chased, that someone was grabbing for her.
Mitch’s forehead was creased as he watched her. Slowly, as her eyes became more accustomed to the dark, she realized how worried he was and reached up to hug him. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I’m okay. I’m…just a bad dream, I guess.”
His arms wrapped around her and pulled her in close. She loved his arms, so strong and sure and steady. She let herself go limp as they tightened around her ribs.
Eventually she moved and pulled away. “I’m gonna get some water.”
“You sure you’re okay?”
She swung her feet around to the floor and stood up. She didn’t even take one step before stumbling and falling to the floor. “Uhh!”
Mitch jolted up. “Rachel!” He reached to the nightstand to turn on the light. “What happened? You okay?”
“Oh my God.” Rachel sprawled on the floor, next to the bookshelf. The IKEA bookshelf he had helped her assemble and hang on the wall next to the bed nearly a year ago, back when she first moved to the city. The bookshelf was now askew on the floor. “What the fuck?”
“Holy shit!” Mitch jumped out of bed and crouched next to her. “How did…”
Rachel picked herself up and sat on the side of the bed, staring at the bookshelf. “What. The. Fuck,” she repeated. She leaned forward. “I don’t think anything broke.”
A jewelry box had scattered its contents across the floor. The hats she stacked on top of the shelf were under one end, crushed. A few books and picture frames lay in and around the shelf.
Mitch stood up and went to the wall, feeling around the holes where the screws had been. “The anchors must have come loose.” He turned around to look at Rachel again. “You sure you’re okay? You didn’t twist an ankle or anything?”
Rachel nodded, still staring numbly at the shelf.
“That must have been what set you off.”
“I guess.” She looked up at him. “I don’t remember anything though. Just waking up, screaming. I don’t think I heard this or anything.”
Mitch hadn’t heard it fall either. But he was already deciding that was because Rachel must have started screaming right when it fell. It must have bumped the bed, and being on her side, she would have felt it or heard it or something and just reacted in her sleep.
Comments, feedback, and constructive criticism welcome…