Her eyes flew open.
From what little she could see in the darkness, she could tell that she was still laying on her bare mattress in her cold bedroom. The only thing remotely visible was the soft silhouette of her boyfriend sleeping soundly beside her. She noticed the way his back rose and fell, and her heart fell in line with the rhythm.
Now, the girl was starting to feel uncomfortable. Her body was splayed out in an awkward position, and a tingling sensation crept up her spine. But as she moved to adjust herself, she began to panic once the realization set in:
She couldn’t move.
A wave of fear and panic crashed into her. She felt trapped inside her skin, unable to move her body no matter how hard she tried. Her eyelids were betraying her, trying to squeeze themselves shut, and it took all the girl’s energy to force them to stay open. She could feel her breathing become shallow and rapid as her chest tightened. The discomfort grew as time passed, reaching unbearable heights. It felt as if the mattress and the bedsheets were closing in on her from both sides. She wanted to scream as loudly as possible…to say something, anything to make her boyfriend notice her plight, but her mouth wouldn’t budge; it felt like her lips were glued shut. Even her eyes were immovable, her view locked exclusively to her boyfriend’s back. It seemed like cruel irony to her, staring at her only escape but unable to reach it.
By this point, a feeling of dread was starting to overcome the girl as it dawned on her that she might be paralyzed forever. She could feel her eyes pooling with tears, yet she was powerless to wipe them away. The tingling in her spine agonized her. How long would she remain trapped in this awkward position until her boyfriend woke up and noticed her? The girl wanted to burst into tears when she realized she might have to wait for hours to be saved. She fought her body once more, forcing her toes to wiggle and curl with every ounce of strength she had.
Suddenly, like a dislocated shoulder snapping back into place, the girl regained control of her body, jolting awake with a small scream that echoed in the silence of the room. Her heart pounded rapidly in her chest. Gulping in large breaths, she adjusted her position so that she faced the ceiling. She flexed her fingers, shuddering in horror. Although the girl was relieved, a large fragment of fear lingered as she reflected on what she’d experienced.
“Alicia…?” When she turned, her boyfriend was facing her, eyebrows tightened with concern. “Are you okay?”
The girl shuffled closer to her boyfriend, wanting to be near the warmth and safety of his body. When he gave her cheek a gentle caress, she couldn’t hold it in any longer. She buried her face in his chest, feeling the hot tears flow as she spoke in scattered phrases. “I-It w-was h-horrible! I-I c-c-couldn’t m-move, and I…I”
“Shhhh…” her boyfriend whispered as he kissed her hair. “It’s okay…it was just a bad dream…shhhh…” Thanks to the support of her boyfriend, the girl felt herself calming down. Once the tears dried, he broke away from her and shuffled to the other side of the bed. “Get some sleep, okay? That should help you feel better.”
The girl shifted to a comfortable sleeping position and struggled to sleep. Every time she closed her eyes, her mind flashed back to the nightmare and they flew open once more. Sighing, she laid on her back and stared at the ceiling, vowing to never close her eyes for the rest of the night.