In those hours - nanoseconds - before you wake, your heart starts pounding like crazy. Somehow, you know you're dreaming, nightmaring, but it still feels horribly, horribly real. Panic sets in, you don't know what to do, you don't know how to react, you're going to die, you're going to die, you really ARE going to di...
You're awake, a sweaty mess, trembling and hyperventilating. The shadows on the wall move eerily and you don't start to calm down till you've clicked on your bedside light and disturbed the sleeping cat at your feet.
Of COURSE it was just a bad dream. You knew that. You know yourself well enough to know that you'd never go that far out to sea. For God's sake, you can't even swim, or not properly anyway.
But it felt so REAL. The coldness of the water, that salty taste in your mouth, the unmistakeable smell of the sea. The bits of seaweed floating in the water, twining around your legs - GAH. ARRGH. GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME NOW! - the odd bit of flotsam, the squawking seagulls.
Your pale limbs flailing, your mind flashing to the fact that you can't feel the fucking sand beneath your feet so you're on your own and you are going to drown. Oh shit. How did this happen?
Oh yeah, that's right, it's a dream, it was a dream, a bad dream, a goddamn nightmare.
But, I swear, it DID feel real... It might be improbable, impossible even, but I was THERE: on the beach one moment, then easing myself gently into the sea the next, gasping as the cold water touched my hot skin. Walking out, further and further, to get away from the kids horsing around and splashing like crazy.
Buoyed up by the gentle waves, floating a little, drifting even. And then. Oh, Christ, and THEN. That moment of realisation that I'm out of my depth, that I'm actually going to have to swim to get back to shore.
Heart pounding, pulse racing, fear gripping my mind. Flailing, crying out for help, hoping, hoping, hoping someone will pay attention...
But it was just a dream. I keep saying that, but perhaps if I say it often enough, I'll calm down, start to believe it and finally go back to sleep. To dream of something prettier, safer, happier.
Open water? Hell no.