Several weeks ago, I had a horrible nightmare. Truly, one of the worst I've had in a very long time. Without going into details about that particular dream, suffice it to say it left me feeling sick in my soul and supremely disturbed in my heart and mind. It stuck with me. I remembered every detail; every feeling. And I carried that discomfort around for a few days until I finally decided that the only way I could hope to get rid of that soul-sickness was to write about it. Put it all down on paper in a way that might take it from me and transfer all the ickiness (that's an Austen word right there) to paper.
Almost 12,000 words and 19 pages later, I succeeded. The disturbing nature of the dream was now gone from me because it became a fictional story, rather than a dream in which I felt I'd taken an intimate role.
I sat on this story for a while before I even said anything to anyone about it, but finally had one of my trusted friends read it. Her words were, "...it's creepy and chilling and awesome..." Honest and high praise from her as she reads more than I do. I was glad to know I was able to convey the feeling of it.
Fast forward to earlier this week, Boy-Child and I were discussing various things and he said something about a bad dream he'd had the night before. We talked about it, and I said, "Boy, I had a doozy of a dream a few weeks ago. It was so bad I had to write a story about it just to shake it from my system."
Well, I didn't think at the time (though I should have) that my book-loving son would want to read that story. He thought about it for a couple of days before he asked me to read it.
At first, I said no, because I knew it was creepy and I also because he has never slept really well and I didn't want to run the risk of my being the reason for his having a bad night. Which this story, I felt certain, would do.
He persisted. And I (here's my parental error) finally gave in and let him read it.
It probably took him 15 minutes to read 19 pages and 12,000 words. Far faster than I can read. When he was done, I looked at him and watched him visibly shudder. Oops, I thought.
"You OK bud?"
He couldn't look at me, but said, "Yeah, that was REALLY CREEPY, mom."
He needed to go to bed shortly thereafter and told me he would be sleeping with his light on. I expected that, and so didn't really make a reply.
A little while later, he came in and said, "Mom, that story was really creepy!" I suggested he grab his ear buds and listen to music as he fell asleep. He thought that - along with his light - was an excellent idea, and so went back to bed.
Again, he came back to me and said, "I think I figured out why your story bothered me so much."
"Oh? Why?" I asked.
"Because the main character is you. It's creepy because it feels like it happened to you. I could see you in the character and that's what made it creepy."
I put my hands on both sides of his head, looked him directly in the eyes (knowing he was looking back; looking to make sure my irises hadn't suddenly turned black) and said to him, "Bud, I'm right here, soul and all. I'm OK, I promise. And so are you."
He said, "OK," and went back to bed.
Apparently, he was so convinced of my truly being OK, he was no longer even fearful, because when - about 30 minutes later - I went to check on him, he was fast asleep. Lights and music off. And further, he slept all night long.
The next morning, I asked if he was alright and he said, "Yeah, but I guess I probably shouldn't have asked to read it."
Probably not. But he's 13 now and is finally starting to understand actions and decisions and consequences. So, I suppose, even though I feel like I scared the crud out of my son and am a terrible parent, it is a lesson learned. For both of us.
PS: My trusted friend, who had the distinction of being the first person - other than myself - to read the story, said that she could see me in the main character, too. Her words were something to the effect of, "...those who know you will really see you in this." Guess my son has excellent insight, too.
UPDATE 8/15/17: It's rough - I reread it after it had been posted and there are some spacing errors, as well as a few things I'd like to fix, but the story is out there now and you're welcome to go read it. http://www.creepypasta.com/becoming/ Good luck. Feel free to tell me how you really feel. My skin is thick.