Even sleep is no escape from the stress
We are having a family reunion at my grandparents' clubhouse. I wander into the bedroom, but it has changed. It is bigger than I remember, and all of the furniture has been removed and replaced with massive walnut pieces. The intricately carved dresser stretches to the ceiling. Red brocade tapestries hang around the bed and over the windows. The room is red and black and very, very dim. My eyes adjust to the gloom and I tiptoe through the room silently, full of wonder and fear.
In the corner, there is an emaciated man chained to the wall.
I run out of the bedroom screaming to my family, "There is someone IN HERE!" I stand outside the bedroom door, and they all run to see. The bony ghost of a man pushes past me and runs out the front door. They all run after him.
My grandfather is the only one who does not follow the man. I look at my grandfather's eyes.
He knows who the man is. He knows why he is there. He PUT him there.
I woke up cold and clammy, tossed restlessly, and went back to sleep.
The Taliban is chasing us. We are crawling on raw, bloodied knees through dirty tunnels. We are hungry.
The floor of the tunnel is gone. We have to swing hand over hand on bare wires to the other side. Our parents go first and make it safely across. Erin and I are halfway across. We look down. We see a cruel-faced man in a turban flip a switch, and we are being fried alive. We cannot let go, though, because if we fall we will die.
The worst part is that I could actually feel the electricity coursing through my body. It hurt horribly. I could really smell my hair burning.
I grab onto a plastic pipe jutting from the wall and it does not hurt anymore. I look at Erin. She is about to fall. I swing forward and wrap my legs around her to steady her, and am being electrocuted again. She and I hang together, immobilized.
Then I am in a tiny concrete cube of a cell. The man who flipped the switch comes in and grabs my face with both hands, pressing his body against me. I bite and scratch and kick and flail. I squeeze and twist his balls in my hands like I am trying to pop grapes.
When he leaves almost all of the blood staining my cell is his. But he won anyway.