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Suspense


Marianna tosses and turns in her sleep as the dreams she experiences nightly cascade before her eyes. She sees the house she shared with Anthony from a distance as she drives up Maplehill Drive. Although, she doesn't live there anymore, something keeps drawing her back. Is she missing the house and her old life or is her subconscious not letting go of her past?


Drenched in a cold sweat, Marianna wakes up once again and vaguely remembers what she experienced. Melatonin and sleeping pills won't give her a peaceful sleep, and she realizes she is running out of options. Dr. Preston, her Psychologist, told her if the sleeping pills didn't help, she may have to go under hypnosis to find the underlying cause of her nightmares. Marianna didn't consider her dreams nightmares. She would go back to the house and always find Anthony. He was young like they were when they moved into the house thirty years ago. His body was tight, and his muscles were rippled as they were when he was young. She couldn't see her face to know if she also reverted back to her youthful self. 


Dr. Preston didn't find it healthy for Marianna to spend all of her sleeping hours with a husband she no longer had.  The doctor stressed to her that her husband was dead and she needed to move on. Marianna assured her she had. Anthony had died in the car crash over ten years ago. Her daily life didn't revolve around his memory, and she couldn't understand why her nights did. 


Another pill and she would retire for the night. Marianna hoped she would be exhausted enough to fall asleep and not dream at all. Eleven pm, she felt a hypnic jerk, the sensation of falling, and almost awakened. Her body started all over with sleep cycles, and it didn't take long before she was again in REM sleep, where she was driving up the hill to meet Anthony. The dreams were different every night; Before he passed away, they had moved out of the house, and it had new owners. Marianna knew when she was there with Anthony that they must have broken in because they no longer lived there. The family who purchased their old house returning home was a threat. She would awaken from her dreams realizing they weren’t supposed to be there.


Other nights Anthony would lead her through the house and take her to rooms she never realized were there. One night he took her to the attic and showed her several pianos; some were in tact with others missing keys. There were staircases which lead to secret rooms and countless bedrooms with furniture that was not hers. Anthony would stroll through the house showing her all of the hidden features. Marianna would tell him they needed to leave because they didn't live there anymore. Anthony was not concerned about their

trespassing, and would continue to explore as if it was still theirs.


Marianna would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat realizing that sometimes she missed her old life. She was happy now and had a beautiful home of her own, and the stress of the marriage she and Anthony experienced was gone. Marianna was a strong woman with a man in her life who made her happy. She couldn't understand the draw of Anthony and the Maplehill house. 


As soon as her REM sleep started, Marianna would dream of Anthony and the house on the hill.  Most of her marriage took place there,  some good, but a lot worse. Young Anthony was the one Marianna saw in her dreams. The man who she had loved dearly. The rest of their story was blurred as Anthony lead her through the house. Most of her dreams were pleasant with discovering new spaces until she noticed how Anthony hesitated and always looked behind.  Someone or something was following them, and it wasn't the owners of the house. There was a dark silhouette that would appear behind doorways as they traveled into the new rooms. Marianna would try to speak to Anthony to ask what it was without any words coming out. The dreams were mainly visual without much interaction .


Marianna would follow him until she realized her cell phone started to ring in her dream, and it was her boyfriend. That would bring her back to reality; Anthony and the house were not real.  He was gone, and their home was also. Marianna would get up in the middle of the night exhausted, and pour herself a glass of water wondering if she would get a couple hours of sleep before her alarm went off. She desperately needed sleep. Her job was starting to suffer, and the bags under her eyes could no longer be hidden with concealer. The sleep deprivation also concerned Marianna as she was afraid of increasing her risk for heart attack, stroke, or having a careless accident.  Functioning normally was getting more difficult.


A year went by, and Marianna continued to have nightmares. She would often drive by the old house and park across the street trying to figure out why it had a hold on her. She was surprised one day when she climbed Maplehill Drive, and saw it was up for sale. Without delay or time to reconsider, she purchased her former home.  Marianna knew it wouldn’t be deemed rational by her doctor, and her boyfriend would be offended she hadn’t discussed it with him. She considered their feelings, but decided it was her choice on how to deal with her dreams. Marianna put her house on the market, and was in her old bedroom within two months.


The first night Marianna spent at the house was uneventful. It was the best night sleep she had had in three years. She woke up happy and energetic, and was confident she had solved her nightmare problem. Dr. Preston wouldn't believe how easy it was. Marianna continued to be proud of herself for figuring it out, and it took a while to notice Anthony. He was sitting in the bay window of the dining room as he often did when they were married.  Marianna screamed and tried to figure out if she was asleep or awake. Anthony assured her she wasn't dreaming, and he was so happy she finally made it.  Her face turned pale because she had seen a ghost, and told him he couldn’t be real he died in a car accident. Anthony told her she was right, he was dead, but needed to see and talk to her.


Anthony told Marianna that he hadn't treated her with the respect she deserved. He knew that she loved him, and he had taken advantage of that love. Marianna was surprised with his confessions. Communication between them was a problem during their long marriage. Her dreams, Anthony told her, were to get her to come there. He wanted to reassure her that he had always loved her even though he didn't show it. He asked Marianna if she could find it in her heart to forgive him.


Tears started to run down Marianna's face, and Anthony wiped them away. Marianna looked up at Anthony with red swollen eyes, and whispered......thank you.


The dreams in Marianna’s life disappeared, as did Anthony.  She sold the house and moved away into a condo with a warmer climate. She didn't know why Anthony waited ten years in the house to tell her he was sorry before he finished his journey, or if it may have determined its direction, but she was glad he did. Marianna believed she was handling his death without closure, but her sub-conscious knew otherwise.


February 13, 2021 05:49

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2 comments

Alma Lewis
17:26 Feb 15, 2021

Well written story ,which kept interest high. Good job Cheryl

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Cheryl Fulks
19:24 Feb 15, 2021

Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed😁

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