My Favorite Nightmares

By O. Rousseau '21


1. Late for work

I’m late! Oh no! And you’re there and you tell me it’s going to be okay but what do you know? You’re just my nightmare wife!


So I run and I run and I run and when I finally stop I look behind me and I’m still in bed with you, and somehow I’m not late anymore but I’m still, like, panic-y or nervous or something? I think it’s because my parents expressed their love for me as pressure to succeed. Does that make sense? Anyway.


I look over to your paper calendar on the wall because we don’t have smartphones in nightmares yet and I see it’s Sunday and somehow that gets me even more stressed so I try to run out but then you’re in the doorway with breakfast and you kiss my forehead and I’m overcome with, like, this feeling of weightlessness and I can see all my stress leaving my body in a purple cloud over my head and I realize... I’m genuinely happy for the first time in my life… Does that make sense? Anyway.


Then a murderer jumps in and murders me.


2. Naked at school

I’m in chemistry class. At the front of the room I can see we’re doing titrations today and I’m already sweating because the pH indicator changing color makes me very nervous.


So we do the titrations, and I’m actually really proud of myself because I timed everything perfectly so all my calculations came out really well and Mr. Miller comes up and says “Really good job there, Oscar, this is definitely showing up on your report card and in parent-teacher conferences” so I’m feeling all good and bubbly inside and as I take off my lab coat I notice I’m wearing a really cool and fashionable outfit, like leather pants or something, and Rebecca sees it (for the first time, I guess? Maybe she didn’t pay attention when we all walked from the classroom to the lab before we put our lab coats on? Anyway.) and she says “Really good outfit there, Oscar, this is definitely showing up on my brain’s positive image of you as a friend report and in parent-friend conferences” and she hands me my friend report card with all A’s which is great because now I’m even happier than I already was before so I tell her “Really good compliment there, Rebecca, this is definitely showing up in my hypothalamus happiness report and in endorphin-opiate receptor conferences” and I hand her her friend report card, that has a few B’s but a lot of potential.


Then a murderer jumps in and murders me. He’s naked.


3. Murderer

This is by far the scariest nightmare I’ve had. I’m walking down the street, everything is sunny, and I genuinely feel great. I take a right into the park near my house, and after a few minutes of walking I land in a luscious grove.


The trees sway slowly around me, lumbering almost imperceptibly in one direction, then in the other as the wind tugs at their crown. The forest’s denizens scutter and sing softly, the wind’s whisper harmonizing with the soft warble of nature’s ensemble; the whole scene lit angelically through the nest of green that tops the stage seemingly set for my sole enjoyment. I take it in and let out a deep, relaxed breath.


I see a house in the distance. Walking lightly, I approach the window and try to peer in but can barely see past the opaque, frosted glass. I knock at the window, but the dark shadows moving behind it are unresponsive.


“This sucks,” I think, so I take my knife (when did that get there?) and am pulled through the window by the force of my own legs and my own free will and just murder these two people. Then my legs and my brain tell me to go to the school next door, and I’m not complaining, I love learning, I’m a really curious individual, so I go to the school where I see a really fashionable kid and a girl really hitting it off and for now they both see each other as friends but soon they’ll both come around and neither of them knows it but one day they’ll succumb to a beautiful, healthy, deep, and powerful love, so anyway I see these two and of course I strip down to my socks (meaning I keep my socks on) and I murder this one kid, ruining his love arc, and I start freaking out because I look at the his face and he’s actually young me and I remember that other couple I murdered and the guy there was me too, just older and married, but luckily Mr. Miller sees me panicking so he just points to this dark-red-purple-bean-looking-thing on younger me’s corpse and says “That, kids, is the spleen” and the whole class gathers around him very calmly and I calm right down because now I’m genuinely learning something and enjoying it, what with being a curious individual and all, but you can just tell all the kids are like “Ugh Mr. Miller, save it for the anatomy unit” but in any case we all nod along and when school is over a few of us ditch the bus to get creamsicles and come up with inside jokes and nicknames for one another in our group chat on our new nightmare smartphones that just arrived and I think to myself “Wow, I’ve never been this happy.”


And then a murderer jumps in.


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Brown University, Providence, RI

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