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Emily lies cocooned in her blankets. Only her face is touched by the cool night air. Steven, her husband of 12 years, sleeps soundly beside her. Over the sound of his breathing, which is dancing on the brink of a loud snore, she listens to the strong wind that causes acorns and rotted branches to crash periodically into the roof above her head.

She is certain that it was these, and only these noises that had roused her from sleep. Unnervingly, the acorns bounce when they hit, and to the fairly unconscious mind, they sometimes mimic the sound of someone walking on the hardwood floor that leads to their bedroom.

“Silly,” she tells herself, “ignore it and go to sleep.” Then, she snuggles up closely to Steven’s warm back and stops trying to fight the weight of her eyelids.

Minutes or hours may have passed, of which Emily can not be sure, but she is awakened once more by the strange crashing sound. Nervous apprehension causes her to sit up and with the clarity of a conscious mind, she listens and reasons.

Emily shook her husband, trying to wake him. She only managed to stop his snoring as he rolled over away from her. She strained to listen close. Now, with certainty, she could make out the sounds of steps. No longer were they crackling on twigs and leaves. These steps were coming from the hall. She could almost make out the faint sounds of breathing.

Emily’s heart began to race. She looked to her husband who was still far away in some dream. She tried once more to shake him awake, trying not to make noise so that whoever was in the house wouldn’t hear her. He had always been a deep sleeper. Emily had tried to wake him many times. Sometimes to quiet his snoring, other times to check on their daughter, Sara, and others to go get her a late night snack when she didn’t feel like getting out of bed. More often than not, she was the one who ended up getting out of bed to run these late night errands.

She could hear the sounds moving away from her now. Whatever it was, it was going downstairs. Emily knew their house well, and she could hear the squeaky steps. She could tell exactly where they were stepping. She held her breath and slowly got out of bed. She grabbed up the phone off the nightstand and dialed 911. Trying to fight back the panic, whispering now, she told the police that someone was in the house and answered their questions. Carefully she put the phone back down. She could feel something pulling at her, in her gut. Trying not to make a sound, she crept to the doorway and peaked out towards the stairs. From the top of the stairs, she could see shadows dancing along the floor below. There was a lamp on in the living room and she could hear most defiantly hear the sounds of someone moving around.

Quietly she tip toed down the stairs. She avoided the squeaky stairs with ease trying to get a peak at who was in their house. She slowly made her way to the bottom of the stairs and peered into the living room to see it was her daughter, playing with her favorite doll in the living room floor. Emily’s heart skipped a beat and she let out a sigh of relief.

It wasn’t like her to get up in the middle of the night like that. When she did, it was usually to crawl into bed with her and Steven. Sara usually didn’t mind sleeping alone, but on windy nights like these she liked to crawl into bed with them. Emily had told her many times not to come downstairs without one of them. She was still too young to be wondering around without someone watching her.

Emily could still feel the hairs standing up on the back of her neck. The room was cold and a feeling was consuming her that she just couldn’t shake. She knew something was wrong, out of place, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. She looked around to see if anyone else was in the room but no one was there. She looked to her right at the front door and it was closed and bolted shut, just like it had been when they went to bed. She looked down the hall and into the kitchen but found no windows or doors open. They were all locked and secure.

Emily walked into the room and sat down next to Sara and gave her a big smile. She was wearing a cute little dress instead of her pajamas. It was the dress she always wore to church on Sunday. She never had any trouble getting Sara to get ready for church. She loved getting dressed up and going to play with the other kids at church. She was always such a little angel.

“Honey, what are you doing up? Are you okay? Did you have a bad dream?”

“No, mommy, you did”.

Suddenly, she could feel someone shaking her. She sat up abruptly, confused, she pushed away and saw that it was her husband, standing in front of her, staring blankly at her.

“What’s going on, where’s Sara?” She started.

“Sara? Honey, you were dreaming. You were talking in your sleep”

“No, Sara was just here!”

“Emily, honey, calm down. It was just a dream. I’m here now.” Steven put his hand on her shoulder to comfort her.

Emily’s heart sank. Her stomach tied itself in knots. Reality sank back in like a cold dagger into her heart. Her daughter had died only a few weeks ago after being very sick. They had buried her in that cute little black dress she loved so much. She could still smell Sara on her clothes. It was all just too much to take. Emily looked down at her trembling hands and found she was clenching Sara’s doll. Tears rolled down Emily’s face and her husband’s eyes began to swell.

He put his arms around her and held her close.

Chrispian H. Burks
Lit.Org Owner / Founder
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The following comments are for "Write Off: A Dream"
by Chrispian

The man sleeps like I do! I liked the idea, though well used, of dreams within dreams, or confusing the dream state with reality. I particularly liked the ending, and the main character still smelling her daughter on her cloths, very visual, even though it uses the sense of smell...

Note: My first comment didn't seem to post, (I forgot my password!) Hope this doesn't post twice!

( Posted by: The Hal [Member] On: February 2, 2003 )

Very Emotional
I don't know maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but this one really hit me in the taint. Very emotional. It really pulled at the old heart strings. Lots of great little character traits that brought your creations to life, which is pretty amazing since you did it in only 1031 words.

Good job.


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: February 3, 2003 )

Very kind words. Thanks so much. I felt pretty good about this one. Truth be told, I had it even shorter but I tweaked it a couple of times to fill out some spots. The story just sort of told itself and I added in some details. I really like these write offs. Great challenges!

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: February 3, 2003 )

Nice Change
Other than a couple of technical errors, (spellcheck gone awry I suspect.) the story painted some nice visuals andplayed the emotioanl card well, and in crowe-like fashion you tiptoed towards the creepy thriller angle, then jumped back over to give us a more realistic ending.

Good job.

( Posted by: kross [Member] On: February 4, 2003 )

now this is really good, the title made it sound like it was going to be typical, like "who shot JR?" but i'm glad to say that it wasn't anything like it!
it is a tough choice between you and 'bart'(i hope i don't get into trouble over that)i know you dont want to hear this but you are both as good as each other... sorry!

( Posted by: man eating maniac [Member] On: February 10, 2003 )

Good, except you changed the tense

( Posted by: DragonReborn [Member] On: June 14, 2003 )

hey man this story is very good your sence of style is close to min with intence description i like it

( Posted by: avilanch2000 [Member] On: January 8, 2004 )

very enthusiactic peice here to put on i wanna write a dream to be posted and rated too!!!

( Posted by: poetrygill1 [Member] On: December 21, 2007 )

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