Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Nightmare

Friday, December 22, 2006


It's 5:30 a.m., and I'm awake. That isn't unusual, really, but I'm in some sort of alternate state of consciousness created by confusion and exhaustion. I found myself at the comforting glow of my computer screen like a moth with insomnia. So here I am.

I read my book until 10:30 or so last night and then dropped off to sleep. I recently bought sleeping pills at Costco but have been avoiding them, as they are twice the strength of the ones I'm used to, and I can't cut the tiny, blue pills into quarters. I wake up late and am uncharacteristically grouchy with my husband. Not good. I took my chances without them.

Erik started crying at 1:15 a.m. I got up twice to comfort him. Brian joined me the second time. I let Erik cry after the second trip. We don't let him cry more than 15 minutes before visiting him again, but he finally cried himself to sleep. After waking up, I usually lie in bed for at least an hour before I can fall back asleep, and that isn't always successful. A lot of the time I just get up and enjoy all the world has to offer at some ungodly hour. Amazingly, I fell back asleep this time and began dreaming the second horrible Erik nightmare in my mommy career.

Brian and I were staying in a giant, relatively ancient high rise beach hotel on a tropical island. We had enjoyed a wonderful vacation and were getting ready to go home that day. We walked down to a little corner store to buy some jo-jos and pop, where the girl behind the counter had a problem with us and decided to insult my husband for filling out his lunch order form incorrectly. I was furious. I was gesturing wildly and yelling at her, reminding her that she worked behind a counter frying up greasy baskets of jo-jos and that my husband was a civil engineer, when her enormous, barrel-chested father came out and asked what the problem was. I explained the situation, and we ironed things out. The whole argument was something that would never occur in my waking hours, as (1) I have worked behind several counters and gone home smelling of grease myself and (2) detest conflict of any kind. Nevertheless, we took our artery-clogging grub in paper sacks dotted with spreading lard stains and made it across the gooey, sunbaked asphalt to the street to our hotel. The ancient loudspeakers in the lobby crackled with a muffled announcement we could not discern, and the lazy crowd swirling around us came to a halt and then mysteriously began to scatter. We sauntered to the plate glass window and saw a thick, slowly surging wall of ocean approaching the hotel.


Brian quickly guided me up the glossy hardwood stairs, and we began ascending them rapidly without a sense of panic. On our travels, I'm lazy. I always let Brian remember the room number for me. There was a band churning out cheerful reggae music in a restaurant we passed, and I felt like I was on a deck of Titanic for a moment. Creepy. We searched for the third floor. Our feet hit the landing at floor two, and we ascended the next set of stairs. The plaque on the wall said FLOOR 7. We strode down the hall spanning the length of the hotel, thinking we had taken the wrong staircase. Suddenly, I realized Erik was in the room napping when we decided to get something to eat earlier. I looked out the window on the landing and saw smokestacks on a boat at sea lose their battle to stay upright and topple as waves criss-crossed each other. Water was sucked back in as more surged forward, creating a watery chaos. Pleasure boats and catamarans disappeared beneath a layer of ocean foam. Our hotel was now surrounded by water. Brian explained that the building had been there for 70 years and that we would be fine. We continued down the hallway. However, the people around us began to panic. One woman was sobbing, screaming that she felt like she couldn't breathe in the humid hallway as the ocean closed in on us. I turned my emotion off and walked right past her. Floor four. Floor two. Oh God! My baby! I thought of Erik drowning without me by his side. I was running like I never ran before. Panic overtook me. Brian and I became separated, but my feet kept going. When I realized I was alone, I glanced down at my room key. It was brass inlaid with beautiful, swirling mother of pearl. My heart sunk, and a feeling of dread overcame me. There was no room number on it. More water slammed into the hotel, and as I ran past another window, I saw chaise lounges washing out to sea.


What the...? I'm awake now, and I lie in the darkness with my heart pounding, trying to identify the strange sounds I am hearing from the master bathroom. I glance around and see the outline of my dresser and of our bed. I'm home again, and I know Erik is safe in his crib. Forget the tsunami -- there seems to be a giant rat or something burrowing in the wall. I get up, pumped full of residual adrenaline from my horrible nightmare and the knowledge I have to hunt whatever this is and kill it with whatever is available. My options include an eyelash curler and an electric toothbrush. Damn. It's then that I realize my cat, the size of a circus sideshow attraction, has managed to pry the cupboard open under our jacuzzi and has crawled deep into the guts of our bathroom. There is no longer any noise. Great. That's all I need -- a dead 14-pound cat in the wall of the house. I call her name and get no response. I see nothing but insulation, an ominous-looking warning about electrocution on the casing of the jacuzzi motor, and the contour of the wrong side of the tub. I shudder thinking about how many mice and God knows what else called this formerly filthy house their home when we bought the place. Hantavirus, here I come! Finally, I hear a little crackle of the paper insulation covering, and Gracie's apple-sized head emerges from the tight space beneath the tub, her eyes completely dilated in the darkness, making her look like a cartoon. She flattens out to free herself, and she is suddenly the size of a giant, furry area rug. However, she makes it, and I close the door behind her.

Oh man. What a night.


Blogger Kerry said...

My heart is racing... what a time to wake up. Next time can you dream in pink and blue about Candyland?? :)

8:34 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Wow...boy was that ever a nightmare!! I'm so glad you woke up when you did. I don't think I have ever had a nightmare that involved my children, but my husband has them all of the time. It actually takes him awhile to get over them too. Even though he knows that they are just dreams, he gets very shaken by them.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

So sorry for your bad night! :-( I can certainly empathize and will be wishing you sweet dreams from here on out!

Don't know how much time I'll have between now and then, so I wanted to stop by and wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

And a Happy New Year! :-)

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow I feel like I had tha dream...I hope you eventually got back to sleep

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, boy can I relate! A few weeks ago, I had a nightmare that our family was going about our normal business, but there was a lion walking all around us. We were trying to act normal, but we were aware of it, and we were wary, wondering when it was going to suddenly reach out and attack one of us. Gee, wonder what that meant? ;)

1:00 PM  

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