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Nightmares and Real Life

She stiffens in her sleep. It begins as it always does, but this time she is prepared. “I am dreaming,” she repeats in her head. It was a common nightmare. The multiple internet sources she read reminder her she was just anxious; scared of growing old. Of losing beauty. Of loneliness. “It’s only a dream. Dream. Dream. Dream.” Still one tooth loosens. “It’s only a dream.” Her tongue moves to wiggle it, like a small child, unable to stop. “A dream.” It moves too far back, unnaturally far, and tears out. “Dream.” But this time she can feel one ivory tooth solidly in her hands. “But…it must be a dream.”

Then it begins: a waterfall of ivory and crimson. One by one teeth loosen and fall. She cannot catch them all. They fill her mouth until there is no more room, and she spits them out. Volatile, white incisors and deeply rooted molars ping into a nearby garbage can. Everyone is staring, but nobody moves, not even as she begins choke. Breaths are shallow and soon replaced. She cannot open her mouth. She cannot scream, only silently cry. Teeth push back her throat. There are too many. Hundreds. “It’s only a dream.”

She sits straight up, looking urgently around the unfamiliar room, barely lit by the first moments of dawn. Her tongue feels around her mouth. They are there. Every single tooth. They feel plastic and fake in her dry mouth. One sigh of relief, and then her attention returns to the room. She doesn’t recognize the bed. She doesn’t remember the empty bottles haphazardly piled on the night table, but her fuzzy tongue and pounding headache suggest that they were once full and hers. A hand she doesn’t recognize brushes against her bare thigh. Did he buy her the drinks? Does he have a name? Was this his apartment?

The face in the mirror looks nothing like the one she remembers having. A couple more wrinkles on her forehead than yesterday.

“Old.” Smudged masacara, still trails down the side of her face.

“Ugly.” She shivers, only wrapped in the rough, unbuttoned shirt of the man she doesn’t know.


If only this were a dream too.


Katelyn Snyder is a sophomore new media journalism student at Seton Hill University. She serves as Editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, the Setonian.


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