Daily Prompts: When nightmares echo reality.

Daily Prompt: Nightmares

by michelle w. on February 19, 2013

Describe the last nightmare you remember having. What do you think it meant?

I have had the same nightmare for the last nearly 24 years. I have never written about this.  It  is distressing and not the kind of thing I felt I should share until today – maybe speaking about it will help.

In my nightmare, I am a few feet from a young boy, lying alone on the turf of the football pitch. His face is tinged blue, his eyes and mouth are open. I push past the people in front of me to the fence separating me from him, but it is too high. The exit gate is locked, I can’t get to him. I talk to him, but don’t know if he can hear me.

More stretchers arrive. More victims. I have to stand there, an unwilling observer of human suffering like the people around me. A man walks slowly down the pitch, trousers soaked with fear, tears running down his face. A drunken supporter screams abuse at injured people.  I hug a sobbing stranger on a step. Later, much later, we get on the bus home. The only sound was that of grown adults weeping.

I always wake up feeling that I have been punched in the stomach by the concentrated dose of human compassion, courage, grief, terror, anger, stupidity, cruelty and inadequacy I experienced that day. I awaken with the guilt of having survived, and the anger that 96 people died on the day they were supposed to enjoy a football match.

I know full well what this nightmare means. My brain has never processed the horror of seeing this happen in 1989, and my conscience cannot accept that I was incapable of doing anything to change the victims’ destinies. Time does nothing to take the memory away, and becoming a mother has made it more difficult.  I see the boy again and again, because I need to know if he survived. I never will.

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