This morning is different. When I tip toe quietly into the room I notice Lane’s fingers twitching and flexing, grabbing fistfuls of his sheets as he sleeps. I’m afraid to scare him by waking him up. But I can’t take much more, watching him toss fitfully as he’s attacked by monsters of his own unconsciousness.
“Lane,” I call softly. He moans as though he’s in pain.
“Get away, Carla,” he murmurs, “Go far, far away. They’ll hurt you!”
“Lane, it’s me, Sadie,” I say in an undertone.
“Sadie?” he asks, his eyes still shut, his mouth slack, his mind still resting.
“Yes, Lane. It’s Sadie, you have to wake up.”
For a fraction of a second, Lane is silent. But when I touch his shoulder his hand flies up and clamps onto my wrist.
“SADIE!” he screams. His eyelids spring back from his pale corneas and he whispers my name once more. I turn and page the other nurses to tell them that everything is okay in room 394. Lane’s breathing slowly approaches a normal rate.
“God dammit,” he swears, still clutching my arm, “It was so real. I expected to open my eyes and see something besides darkness for once.”
My expression falls and all I can do is tenderly mumble, “I’m sorry, Lane.”
“Me, too,” he says, releasing my hand and leaning back into the pillows. With a final sigh, Lane is calm once more. Images play through my mind, twirling maelstroms and tornados on the waves, then the images gray and blur, slowing to calm ocean scenes. Seagulls swoop low over the water and the sky is a clear effervescent blue. It’s so full of energy and… that’s where my comparisons stop. Lane is the opposite of lively. Though he keeps living, he is listless. I sigh.
“They’re serving fruit salad with pancakes and bacon today,” I hint, trying to change the subject.
“There were all these checkered patterns and everywhere I turned they looked the same, but I knew that one of them was a door. Actually, no,” Lane continues, “They were all doors but there was one right door. All the others led to… I don’t know what… something bad and there were masks. There were faces, just faces, that were… going to hurt you.”
Lane allows a shaky sigh to escape his lips and I realize how deeply the dream has bothered him.
“Would some pancakes and bacon make you feel better? Maybe you need to eat,” I try, putting on a pleading expression. I don’t want to see his pain. I’ve watched him suffer enough as it is.
“You called my name and you appeared in the dream. You looked a little different but I knew it was you. Is your middle name, Rose?”
“Yes, but— how did you know that?” I stopped mid-thought and asked in surprise.
“In the dream you said your name was Sadie Rose. It’s a beautiful name,” Lane responded easily, as if that was completely normal.
“Um… thank you. But Lane, I must insist I get you some break—”
“I’m not hungry,” Lane said firmly, cutting me off. I glared at him. Despite the fact that he couldn’t see, I think he felt the breach of respect my gaze intended to convey.
“Sadie… you have no idea. It was just like reality. It was more real than reality; every being and object, and thing was alive. The walls were breathing,” Lane explains. His belief in the truth of the dream is so convincing I almost want to believe it myself. But what is there to believe?
“I miss the feeling of that sunshine,” Lane sighs heavily.
“It’s sunny today, I could take you outside in your wheelchair. We could have a walk around.”
“It’s not the same thing, Sadie. That dream was the sunshine running through my veins. It’ll always bring me back to a time when my life was unpredictable and open, and I was free to what I wanted. I want the rush of that unadulterated sunshine.”