Rachael Rippon–Untitled

Sleet pinging against dark glass behind him, wind whipped leaves stampeding past his feet on the unlit path, an eerie howl screaming through the treetops; he knew he had trespassed against all reason and common sense, yet he walked further, bent against the storm, forward to meet his Nightmare face-to-face.
He took a breath and stepped into the clearing, clutching his blanket more firmly about him. This was his only wish, he couldn’t waste it.
Before him stood his Nightmare, he hadn’t imagined she would look like this. She turned around and smiled. “Hello, I’ve been waiting such a long time.” She laughed. A laugh so light and airy it sounded almost human.
“I wasn’t expecting… you.” He looked about the clearing, but yes. She was the only one there. His Nightmare.
“Oh well,” She waved her hand dismissively. “I don’t look horrible all the time. Sometimes it’s a nice change to look normal, instead of like a giant eyeball or your principal. Now. Why have you come to see me?”
“I wanted to see you because I want you to stop.” He tried to sound brave, but his voice wavered.
“I can’t stop being a Nightmare. That’s what I am.” She shook her finger at him and tut-tutted. “Why did you waste your wish on seeing me? I should think there would have been much better things to wish for. A nice sea-voyage in the pacific. Think how relaxing that could have been.” She sighed and closed her eyes. The landscape shimmered and he started backwards. She was relaxing on a deck chair now, a cocktail in hand. “Would you like one?”
“I’m twelve.” He said, but a drink appeared in his hand all the same. He put it carefully down on the sand. “I wished to see you because I don’t want to see you anymore, if you see what I mean. I’ve had such terrible Nightmares my whole life – you I suppose;”
“Me.” She smiled and played with the fringe of her sarong.
“I thought if I asked you to leave me alone then perhaps you would.”
“You poor, silly boy.” The Nightmare put down her cocktail. “My function is to frighten. That’s what Nightmare’s are for.”
“Yes, but must you frighten me so very often?”
“Well…” She hesitated. “No. I have other children on my list. You were always my favourite. Sometimes I even made you wet the bed when you were younger. Do you remember?”
“Yes, yes.” He cleared his throat. “But that was when I was four. I’m older now.”
“Too old for Nightmares perhaps?” She laughed again, but this laugh sounded sad. “I’ll miss you, little boy.”
“Really?” He squinted. She was growing fuzzy now, and the sand was trickling away.
“Really.” She waved to him and, from far away, he heard her voice say, “I’ll visit on occasion. For old time’s sake.”
As the boy woke up, he wondered if perhaps he was a little bit glad his Nightmare would miss him…

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