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Wake Up

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Wake Up

A short story by

Giovanni Acevedo

Everyone has a deep rooted fear that they hide deep within. Some might tell a person or two or even go as far as saying that they don’t have a fear. But we all do, whether we want to admit it or not.

My eyes open wide in a frenzy. I look over at my alarm clock and see the red digital numbers flashing 2:01 AM. The power must have went out again I think to myself. I reach over and grab my phone, 3:13 AM, I get a chill run down my spine and get a dreadful feeling wash over me. This is the 3rd time in the past week and a half that I have woken up around 3 AM in a panicked state and I always seem to be having the same dream over and over again. Well, the same nightmare to be technically correct. I lay back down and try to get back to sleep, trying to get at least enough sleep as to where I could function again.

Two days pass. I start dreading laying my head down at night. It feels like hours have passed since I laid down. I look over 10:58 PM, I’ve been in bed roughly 20 minutes. My body and mind are drained but the fear keeps enough adrenaline pumping that sleeping seems more of a luxury at this point. This is going to be another awful night I could already tell. I drift off finally, mentally fighting it but my body gives out.

Mason and I are at the park. The sun is out, bright, bold. There are a mixture of kids running, playing, laughing at the playground. I keep an eye on Mason, making sure he is always in my line of sight. I notice there is a new set of swings over to the right of the main playground in the shade of some oak trees.

I get an uneasy feeling as someone catches my attention. I see this strange man off to the right side of the new swings by the benches just sitting there observing the children playing. He is wearing an aged baseball cap with the edges of the brim frayed and an olive green button up shirt that has seen better days. I’ve never seen him before and I don’t think he has a child here because his eyes keep darting back and forth between the children but never watching one for too long though.

My eyes shift back towards Mason. He had finally jumped off the swings and seemed to be playing with his new friend, Eric. Eric, was a thin boy that looked to be about his same age with unkempt blonde hair and he had this red balloon tied to his wrist.

I notice the sun was setting and I glanced down at my watch but can’t seem to make out the time. Evening is approaching and I yell out to Mason, “Alright Mase, it’s about time we get going, I have to drop you off at your moms.”

“Awe, c’mon dad, do we have to?” he jumps off the monkey bars and runs over. “I know, I know.” He moans before I even have to say anything else.

“We can go across the street before I drop you off and get some ice cream if you want.” I knew he wouldn’t say no to that.

I grab Mason by the hand and we get to the crosswalk. A maroon minivan pulls up and signals us to cross. As we start walking Mason asks, “Hey dad, do you think that maybe next week we could bring Eric along for ice cream too?”

“We’ll see son. We’d have to ask his parents if that would be okay since…”

I am interrupted by the sound of tires screeching to a halt as I turn my head to see the headlights of a black truck careening towards us and then darkness.

I am trying got open my eyes but I can’t get them to adjust. I see faint sunlight creeping in. I hear muffled screams and people shuffling about. I try to move but I can’t. The blurry silhouette of people moving back and forth reminds me of shadows dancing on a candle lit wall. I move my eyes to someone laying on the pavement a couple of feet away from me.

“No, please God no. Please NO! Mason!” I scream in disbelief as I try to crawl over but am kept in place by people that had stopped to help us.

There is blood. Shattered glass. Tattered clothes. No movement. His eyes are closed. My world goes silent. Please is all I can muster at this point.

I wake up in a sweat, trying to catch my breath, tears rolling down my eyes.

“Mason! Mason!” I scream in a confused state.

I hate this. I hate that the same nightmare keeps attacking me. I hate how helpless I feel when I wake up. I hate how my biggest fear keeps creeping into my dreams, into my nightmares.

It’s now Friday night and it’s my weekend to have Mason over to visit. His mother and I didn’t end on the best of terms so it’s always a hassle to see him but I put up with it nonetheless since he means the world to me. I know it sounds cliché but being a single, divorced dad stuck in a rut and a demanding job doesn’t leave a lot of time for things that make me smile nowadays.

“Hey Katie, I am pulling up to your house. Is Mason ready to go?” I asked already knowing she was going to have a sarcastic response.

“Yeah, I’ll tell him to go out now.” she replies as she hangs up. Let’s just say the dial tone and I have gotten to know each other very well since we split.

“Hey buddy how have you been?” I ask him.

“Hi dad. Can we go to the park tomorrow? Mom barely has time to take me anymore.”

I hesitate as parts of my dream flash across my thoughts but I quickly dismiss them. “Sure thing. Movie night tonight then? We can swing by and pick up some snacks on the way home, build a pillow fort in the living room too.”

“YEAH! BUT I get to pick the movie this time!” he yells as a big smile flashes across his face.

Saturday morning rolls around and I make my world…okay, okay…my house famous chocolate chip pancakes with extra chocolate chips for breakfast. We both eat and get ready to head to the park.

I love this weather. Not a cloud in the sky and sun is shining, bright and bold. Kids are laughing and running around as we approach the playground area. I’m about to tell Mason to go play when I noticed that they had built a new set of swings off to the right by where the oak trees are located. My heart starts racing a bit as my eyes search the nearby benches for the odd man in the frayed hat. He’s not there. Relief washes over me.

I look back over to Mason on the swings swinging back and forth without a care in the world. He soon gets off and runs over to the main playground and starts climbing and sliding on everything. I miss being able to do this more often with him but it just makes these times I get to spend with him that much more special in the end I suppose. I always had to keep a positive mindset. These thoughts are scrolling through my head as I stare at Mason keeping him in my sight but drifting into thought. Kids blur past. A flash of red in the distance right by Mason’s outline. Red? Red?! I thought to myself.

I snap out of my train of thought and focus my sights on Mason. There’s a red balloon by him tied to the wrist of a little blonde boy that looks just like the one in my dream, only problem is that’s the only place I’ve seen him before. Oh no. I look over frantically to the benches by the new swing sets. Please don’t let that man be there. I search from parent to parent. My heart sinks as I spot a frayed baseball cap and an olive green button up shirt. It’s him!

I have to get out of here. This can’t just be too many coincidences happening at once. The swings. The red ballooned blonde kid. The man with the frayed hat.

I grab Mason and tell him we have to leave early and we rush to cross the street. I made sure to cross at a different crosswalk just in case these aren’t just coincidences. I patiently wait for the little crosswalk person to appear and my eyes nervously scan the street. That’s when I see it. The maroon minivan about 50 feet away at the corner stop light at the end of the street we’re on. The little person flashes that is okay to walk. We’re safe. I look both ways and we start to cross.

The hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I hear someone scream to watch out. I hear the screech of tires as I pull Mason into a tight embrace to block the majority of the impact because I know what’s coming next.

Darkness.

Silence.

Please wake up…


Wake Up

  • Author: Giovanni Acevedo
  • Published: 2017-08-04 19:50:07
  • Words: 1589
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