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I woke up this morning twisted around in my bed sheets. I had one of those dreams again. Only this time, it was worse.

They started in February, the day that Brandon and I got back together. I keep trying to tell myself it’s a coincidence.

We broke up on Christmas Eve, which is a shame because that’s my favorite holiday. But I’m not blaming Brandon. He said that he suddenly realized he needed to be on his own for a bit and once you’ve come to a realization of that magnitude, it’s hard to hold it in.

We had been together for just under 5 years. It was 4 years, 11 months, and 18 days. Anniversaries were always a big deal to me. I was looking forward to the day when we would reach our five year mark. It was a milestone to me, better than getting a drivers license or graduating college. Brandon said he never cared about tracking the numbers. He said it was the way he felt about me that truly mattered. Isn’t that romantic?

I’m sure he didn’t break up with me so close to our anniversary on purpose. He probably didn’t even know it was close. Either way, it doesn’t matter anymore because we are back together now, and things have been wonderful.

Like, actually incredible. He says things now that I swear he never used to even let himself think about. Like two days ago, we were kissing softly and then he stopped, looked me in the eyes, and asked me what kind of engagement ring I would like. I was stunned. He said he thought rose gold would be right for me. Once my head cleared, I told him I really liked silver. He smiled and said he thought rose gold would compliment my eyes better. He’s always thinking sweet things like that. How romantic!

So like I said, things are going better than ever. Well, besides those dreams.

I keep having these terrible dreams. They’re different every time but the core part of it is the same.

I’ll be having a normal dream––usually something nonsensical, like baking a cherry pie underwater with my roommates or practicing for a ballet recital where the whole audience is cats. Every time I get a phone call from Brandon. I answer and he says that we need to talk, let’s meet at my place. I ask him what it’s about but he never answers. He’s already gone.

I blink, and I’m sitting in my room. My stomach does somersaults and it feels like I’m teetering on the edge of a cliff, an inch from falling into oblivion. I try to steady myself as this feeling threatens to envelop me. I begin to fall.

Then I hear a thundering The sound is so encompassing that it echoes around in my brain.

I’m pulled back from the abyss. I walk to my bedroom door, though in my dream it’s massive and a bright, blinding red. I open it and it’s Brandon.

He doesn’t greet me or acknowledge me. He walks directly to my bed and sits down. I look at him, but he won’t look me directly in the eyes. I stand quietly and wait for him to speak, dreading what he will say.

A voice suddenly shrieks “CHEATER” over and over again in my head. I cover my ears and try to block it out, but all it does it get louder. I run to Brandon. I know that if I can just look in his eyes, I will be assured that it’s all in my head, but he won’t look at me.

This is usually where I wake up, but last night was different.

Last night, Brandon looked into my eyes. And his eyes told me it was true. He had been…has… cheating on me.

Then I fell. I fell straight down into that abyss I had balanced over before he came in. And I continued to fall for hours. There was no heart-stopping jolt to wake me up. The pain was searing, indescribable, and unescapable.

All that saved me from falling for eternity was the sound of my phone, alerting me that I had received a text message from Brandon.

I just want to know what it means. Am I afraid that Brandon will hurt me now that we are back together? That’s not fair because I have no reason to be worried about that.

When we got back together Brandon assured me he hadn’t been with anyone else. The relief washed over me like a tidal wave. I hadn’t been with anyone else either, of course. I had been waiting for him to come back the whole time. And why wouldn’t I? When we broke up he told me he just needed to think. I knew he wasn’t gone. He had the best intentions.

He’s made an effort to be extra honest with me, too. On our first official date back together I went to his soccer game. It was raining, so I stayed in the car to watch. I was so warm and cozy that I accidentally fell asleep. I was woken up suddenly to the sound of knuckles rapping on the window. Brandon was standing there, his face red and sweaty from exertion.

I asked him what was wrong and he said that whatever I did, I needed to stay in the car. Before I could ask him to explain more, he sprinted back onto the field and rejoined the game.

My stomach was in knots until the match was over, but I did as I was told and stayed put in the car. My mind couldn’t help from building grande scenarios of infidelity. Why wasn’t I allowed to leave the car? Who was he trying to hide me from? Or was he trying to hide someone from me?

When Brandon finally was done and came back to the car, I demanded that he explain himself. He told me that there was a girl at the game––Sarah––who has a crush on him. He told me that he hadn’t realize she liked him.

Yesterday, when they were studying for an exam together, she suddenly lunged across the table, grabbed him by the neck, and locked her lips onto his. He was shocked and thrust her off of him. He said that he yelled at her that he was taken. That made her angry. So angry that she threw a book at him and screamed at him to get out. The book hit the counter behind Brandon and broke a plate, shattering shards of porcelain all over the ground.

He grabbed his things and got out. He said he hasn’t seen her since the incident and he was terrified about what she would do to me. He’s so protective like that. I was so glad he was honest with me about it that I wasn’t even mad at all. He’s such a good man.

Anyways, I need to spend some time researching how to stop having reoccurring dreams. They’re intruding my thoughts at inconvenient times, and it’s starting to ruin my relationship! I don’t want to be constantly troubled by nightmares that reflect some alien paranoia.

Even right now, it’s all I can think about. Brandon’s text this morning certainly didn’t help, but it’s not his fault. He doesn’t know about the dreams.

“Can I come over? I think we should talk.”

That’s all the text said. At 6:42am.

Am I overthinking things or is that a weird good-morning text? Why is he up so early? Does he have something on his mind, eating away at his conscience? Is he also having trouble sleeping?

No, he’s probably just up early to prepare for the day. He keeps fairly busy with school and sports. I’m doing it again, fabricating elaborate conspiracies in my mind.

After all, he was talking to me about engagement rings just the other day! What am I so worried about? Brandon loves me. Why else would we have gotten back together?

“I think we should talk.”

I hate that sentence.

What is there to talk about in person that can’t at least be explained a little bit over text?

Maybe I should tell Brandon about the dreams. Would that make me look insane? I just want some reassurance. I just want to know that all the fear is in my mind and not founded on anything real. I think that’s what I’ll do. Maybe then I’ll finally be able to slee––

It’s Brandon. He’s here to talk. I want to answer the door but I can’t because it’s on fire.

Kaylee is a freelance writer from the Bay Area, now living in the Sierra Foothills of California. You can find out more at kayleemoser.com.

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