54: Save Me, Mummy!

54: Save Me, Mummy!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Save Me, Mummy!

Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together.

~Anaïs Nin

I woke up drenched with sweat. It was the fourth time the dream had come to haunt me since I got married, and I couldn’t understand why.

It always started the same way, with me stepping out onto the balcony of our duplex to see a little boy waving to me from across the street. He wore a T-shirt with a superhero logo on it and a pair of matching long pants. I waved back, and he said something I couldn’t hear before leaping off the curb to run toward me. As he did, an out-of-control truck barreled down the road in his direction. I tried to scream in warning, but no sound came — only a muffled hiss left my throat as I watched the child fly toward me from the impact. I ran to kneel beside him. As he lay there, he looked at me helplessly and whispered, “Save me, Mummy. Only you can save me.” His eyes closed, and he was gone.

My husband, Don, stirred beside me. “Are you okay?” he asked. “You were moaning.”

“I had a nightmare,” I whispered. “It seemed so real.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked, rolling over to face me.

“No, I’ll be fine,” I assured him. “Go back to sleep.”

He did, but I remained wide-awake. I waited until his breathing evened, and then slowly crept out of bed and into the kitchen. It was 6:00 a.m., and I had to be up in an hour anyway, so I put on some coffee.

As it brewed, I thought about what had awoken me. The first time it happened, I immediately consulted the dream book that I kept on my night table, but it only gave me an ambiguous interpretation of the different images I was able to remember.

It made no sense. I was twenty-one, married a year, and we had no children. Nor were we planning to become parents any time soon, if at all. We liked kids, but we were happy the way we were — free to go where we wanted at a moment’s notice. We enjoyed other people’s children, but were in no hurry to have our own. Maybe we’d change our minds one day, but right then there was no reason for anyone to call me “Mummy” — let alone an apparition that came to me in my sleep.

That little boy invaded my dreams several more times over the next few years, always wearing identical clothes. Nothing ever changed — including that horrific accident. Every time I woke up from it, I was equally puzzled and disturbed, but for some inexplicable reason I kept it to myself, perhaps in the hope that it might end differently one day or stop altogether.

Eventually, like most couples, my husband and I matured. We settled down and began thinking about our future instead of living every day as if it was our last. At the age of twenty-seven, I found myself yearning for a baby. Luckily, Don felt the same way, and about a year later, David completed our little family.

I enjoyed every second of motherhood, marveling at how I could have ever thought my life was complete without a child. I reveled in all my son’s stages, from being helpless and reliant on me for everything, to his first steps and the independence that milestone brought with it. As he began to explore his surroundings, I found myself seeing the world with fresh eyes from a toddler’s perspective. My husband, a very hands-on father, savored his role in David’s life every bit as much as I did mine.

Time passed quickly. I’d all but forgotten that terrible dream because it hadn’t recurred since the night before I gave birth. However, when David turned six, he began to eerily resemble the child who invaded my sleep and called out to me all those years ago. My unease returned, heightening even more when my son became obsessed with the same famous superhero whose logo appeared on the clothing the youngster wore in the nightmare.

I tried to convince myself that it was all in my head — that not only did all children have fantasy idols they admired, but that my clouded memory of that little boy and David had simply mingled together in my mind to become one. I still had never told my husband what caused me to wake up so frightened, disturbed and disoriented all those times, and it seemed silly to bring it up now. Instead, I buried my worries and chalked off my fears to being overprotective, but they continued to niggle at me.

One spring day, when David was seven, he asked us to take him shopping so he could spend some money he’d saved up. Since one of us needed to stay home for a delivery we were expecting, Don opted to take him and make it a boys’ day out — even agreeing to take the bus, something our son loved to do.

“Call me an hour before you get home,” I asked my husband. “I’ll start dinner so you won’t have to wait too long to eat.” He agreed.

At about 5:30, he called, announcing they were on their way. Forty-five minutes later, while everything simmered on the stove, I decided to take my book outside onto the balcony to read while I waited. To my surprise, when I stepped out, I spotted them on the other side of the street, walking toward the house.

Immediately, I noticed David’s new sneakers. They were impossible to miss, their pristine whiteness a glaring contrast against the new black trousers he’d obviously insisted on wearing home. I grinned as I watched him stop and remove his jacket to hand to his dad, no doubt so he could show me the full effect of the outfit he’d bought with his money.

When he turned around, I gasped in horror. The front of the shirt and pants sported the same insignia I’d seen so many times, right before the little boy in the dream ran toward me! A strong sense of déjàvu coursed through my body, causing every nerve to tingle, while all movement around me decelerated into slow motion.

I watched my son’s face brighten in a huge smile when he spotted me. His hand raised in that familiar wave, and my heart tripled its beat.

“Look, Mummy! I have new shoes!” he announced. “Look how fast I can run!”

Before Don could react or stop him, David sped in my direction, jumping off the curb and right into the street.

This time, my scream was shrill enough to shatter glass. Without thinking, I jumped off the balcony and sprinted toward him. Halfway across the street, I managed to grab my son and propel the two of us to the sidewalk he’d come from. As we landed on the hard concrete, I heard the deafening blare of a truck horn behind us. My long hair whipped against my face and into my eyes from the hot gust of air coming from the vehicle as it whipped past us, slamming into the sidewalk I’d left seconds earlier. The sickening crunch of metal filled our ears as the truck collided with our neighbor’s metal fence, coming to a smoky standstill in their yard.

Dazed, I checked my son for injuries. Other than a scraped arm, he was fine. So was I. My husband helped us up, his face pale with shock. The truck driver, also unhurt, ran over to see if we were okay.

“Mummy — you saved me!” David exclaimed, his eyes wide.

“Yes,” I whispered back. “This time, I did.”

The nightmare was over, and it finally had a happy ending.

~Marya Morin

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