“Susannah, wake up!” I could feel my mother’s long nails digging into my shoulder.
My eyes were closed, but I could see her fingernails. I dreamt of the way they rounded on the ends, the beautiful shade of light pink that always covered them. I could see them pulling on my pajamas and shaking my body.
“Someone is trying to get in the house! Susannah!” I could hear her pleas for me to wake up and help her, to do something.
I’d never been a sound sleeper. I’d woken up the other times.
I had woken up at the sounds of my dogs barking and growling at the stranger who’d left a trail of snowy footprints that lead right to my bedroom window.
I had woken up every time the security alarm wailed in the still dark night.
I had woken up at every creak and pop in the house, at every cube dropping from the ice maker.
I grew up in an established middle class neighborhood in a small southern town. I had a pretty home. Huge aged trees shaded the manicured lawn in the summer. Clean frost rested on their branches in the winter. It was a good and safe place to live.
But something strange always seemed to happen in that pretty, good and safe place.
My father had died in the hallway. The alarm went off for unknown reasons several times a month. The dogs barked all hours of the night. Unknown footprints were left in the snow. And now my mother was begging me to wake because an intruder was trying to get inside our pretty, good, safe place.
“Wake up, Susannah! They are turning the doorknob!” she screamed in my ear.
Yes, I could hear her as I dozed in and out of consciousness, but I just couldn’t fully wake.
I vaguely heard the barking and the sounds of the policeman talking to my mother.
“I saw them run off. They went through the woods, mam.”
I even sensed the officer’s flashlight in my eyes as I rested. I dreamt that my Lhasa Apso and Golden Retriever jumped on the bed, their toenails getting caught up on the eyelet as they threw their tongues across my face. And yet I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t wake. I wouldn’t wake. I’d never been a sound sleeper, but on that night, I physically could not wake. I tried to peel myself out of the warm bed. I tried to run to my mother’s rescue, but for some unknown reason, I could not find total consciousness.
It’s still a mystery as to why I couldn’t wake up that night. Was some power holding me to that bed, keeping me asleep? If I had waken and seen the doorknob turning and heard the voices on the other side plotting to get inside, would that memory be forever etched in my mind? Would I ever sleep again?
I didn’t wake. I couldn’t wake. And it was for my own good.