The first time the nightmares became more than just dreams, Faye was thirteen years old. Bad dreams were normal and Faye had learned long ago that crawling into her parents’ bed wouldn’t chase the fear away. There were things that could touch her no matter where she slept and in the end, screaming alone into her pillow was a better alternative than being sent to counseling.
She woke up to the sound of her mother crying in the hallway. A death in the family, a relative Faye hardly knew, but they’d been shredded by a Shadow and the remains couldn’t be retrieved. She laid in bed listening to her parents talking just outside, debating telling her the news, but Faye already knew.
She had seen the death in her dreams, dark claws rending apart flesh and bone, screams that pierced the air and spatters of blood across the ground.
Faye stumbled into her bathroom and threw up even though her stomach was empty, dry heaving and gagging until she could taste blood in her throat. The ambulance ride was a blur. The doctors found nothing wrong. Faye didn’t sleep the next few nights for fear of dreaming and when she eventually passed out it was filled with darkness so heavy that when she awoke she was gasping for breath. She pushed herself harder in her waking moments, trying to distract herself from the nightmares and the encroaching shadows, from the slowly approaching day that she would be forced to attend Temperance.
She wasn’t safe to be around, too uncontrolled with a wild Spark that lashed out against her will. Faye didn’t mean to hurt anyone, it just happened sometimes and it couldn’t be helped. It was like a dance gone wrong, a fall that went badly (a fall that shattered her ribs and her wrists and her pride), a never-ending dream where she ran at full speed towards the edge of a cliff and stood standing on the precipice like some teetering caricature of a girl. Tipping, tipping, pointe shoes shattering, ribbons tight around her body as she fell into blackness.
Faye woke up with a scream held tight in her chest and tears down her cheeks. She threw out the sleeping pills when sleep paralysis kept her from breaking out of the nightmares. There was no escape from the visions that haunted her in her sleep. The only solution was to stay awake, and no amount of coffee could keep her functional when she went two days without rest. She had to sleep in order to dance. She couldn’t give up dance.
Faye succumbed to nightmares in order to follow her dream. The irony wasn’t lost on her.
The dreams happened less often when she went to Temperance. Maybe it was being surrounded by positive energy, literal energy that was created by Sparks. Faye couldn’t really complain because she was finally able to sleep peacefully. Unfortunately that peace wouldn’t last. Waking up and watching the news, making a connection between the collapsed bridge and her nightmares, realizing that other major events coincided with her dreams…Faye shut down again. She couldn’t deal with this. She couldn’t be having visions, she couldn’t be a seer. So she denied their existence. They weren’t real if she ignored them.
It would have worked, if it weren’t for the fact that the visions started to come while she was awake as well. In the middle of class, during dance practice, it didn’t matter when or where. Faye would find herself miles away in some other place, watching people she didn’t know get hurt or die or feel terrible pain that she couldn’t fix. The guilt drove her mad, haunted her through her dreams into waking. There was nothing she could do about it. They were like a bad TV channel, flickering with static, information lost through the radio waves. Even if these were visions she couldn’t help anyone.
Faye couldn’t even help herself.
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