57: No Reason Required

57: No Reason Required

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

No Reason Required

Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bright car lights showed ahead. I worried that my roommate’s date was driving too fast for the Oklahoma roller-coaster hills. The moonless night accentuated the unease I felt. “Shouldn’t you slow down?” I asked from the back seat.

My date’s face never came into focus, and I didn’t recognize his voice when he said, “He’s a good driver. You don’t have to worry.”

Like magic, the oncoming car lights disappeared. Time slowed to a crawl as the events of the next few seconds flashed like photographs before my eyes. We were enveloped in black. An eerie glow from the dashboard lights illuminated my date’s face. “Look out!” my roommate yelled. In nearly the same instant, I saw the horror in my companion’s eyes before I heard the screech of tires and felt my body slam forward.

Someone screaming woke me. I realized it was me as I bolted upright in bed, disoriented. My breathing slowed as I took in my surroundings. The red numbers on my alarm clock lighted my desk where my hoodie I’d worn the night before hung on the chair. A slight snoring sound came from across the small room as my roommate slept peacefully in her bed.

That wasn’t the first time I’d had that nightmare. It had pulled me out of a sound sleep two times in the past five days. I didn’t know what triggered it. At first, I thought it was something I ate, but after the second time I decided it must have been a movie, TV program, or story in the news. I wasn’t concerned, but wished the dream would go away.

I reached to turn off my alarm seconds before it was scheduled to sound. As I gathered up my towel and soap and headed out the door, I heard my roomie’s alarm. Friday classes would start in two hours, and another week of the school year would be over.

As I went through my day, I thought about college. It was supposed to be the place to prepare for a career, meet your future husband, and embark on a new life. That had not been true for either of us. Classes, studying, and weekends playing cards with other girls in the dorm had become our routine. We joked that Mr. Wonderful must have gone to one of the other state universities. Perhaps tonight would be different. Our cafeteria joined our building and the male dorm. We’d been talking to a couple of guys who regularly sat at the table next to our normal table. They seemed really nice. When they’d asked if we’d like to go with them to the campus movie, we’d said yes.

My last class finished at 4:00. I walked back to the dorm and went with my roommate to eat. The guys were already there.

“You go sit by John. I’ll get the chair by Mike,” my roommate whispered. We’d previously decided who we wanted to be with and didn’t want the guys to choose otherwise. I don’t think they were disappointed in our plan.

“Are you ladies about ready to go?” asked Mike as we finished up our meal.

“Sure. We’ll just go up and get our stuff,” I said as Marilyn and I left for our room. On the way, we talked about whether to take our purses and a little money or just go. As broke college kids, neither one of us had extra cash. We decided if the group decided to go anywhere other than to the movies, the guys could pay. We brushed our teeth and hair and went to meet our dates in the dorm lobby.

We’d all laughed with the audience at the crazy antics, and everyone was in a really good mood as we left the theater. We’d met Sandy, a girl from our floor, and her date, Paul. They’d joined us outside. The fall days were getting shorter. Even though the movie started early, it was dark on the walk back to the dorm. I was thankful for the occasional campus lamppost. The moon and stars were obscured by the clouds.

John took my hand as we walked. The evening was turning out nicely.

“How would you guys like to drive to Pawnee and catch the end of the rodeo?” asked Mike.

John squeezed my hand. “I think you’d enjoy watching. It’s very entertaining. Right, Mike?”

“Yeah, it sure is,” Mike agreed. “The cowboys around here are really good. Several have already qualified for the national finals in Tulsa this year.”

“We’d love to,” Sandy exclaimed. “I’ve never been to a rodeo. Paul’s been telling me we should go.”

Alarm bells were going off in my brain. My chest felt constricted, and my heart rate suddenly doubled. All the liquid in my mouth disappeared, and I could hardly get the words out. “I don’t want to go.”

Everyone stopped walking and turned to look at me. I felt miserable. The idea of a night at the rodeo sounded like a lot of fun, but panic consumed me. “We could play cards in the lobby or rent a movie to watch in the lounge,” I managed to blurt out.

“What’s wrong with you? You look like you’re scared to death.” My roommate reached to put her hand on my upper arm.

“I just don’t want to go. I don’t want you guys to go either. It’s just a feeling I’ve got. Let’s stay on campus.”

John shrugged his shoulders and dropped my hand. “Maybe you’re coming down with the flu or something. A good night’s sleep might do you good. We could go on, and maybe you’ll feel like doing something tomorrow.”

I could hear his disappointment, but the sensation I felt was too strong. “Yeah, maybe tomorrow. Please stay here with me,” I pleaded to Marilyn.

As any true friend and roommate would, she agreed to stay, but I knew she wasn’t happy as we watched everybody walk to Mike’s car, and we went up to our room.

She and I played cards that evening. The dream didn’t wake me. The knocking at our door by a fellow floormate did.

“Did you guys hear? Sandy, her date, and two guys from Parker dorm were in a horrible accident last night. Their car hit a train. They were all killed instantly.”

~Rita Durrett

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