Reading time: 2 min

chapter seven A nighttime confession

Okay, it isn’t really true that Birch and Rimares were the only ones to not get much sleep that night. Not that they were loud. They had their own room. Well, okay, Birch was kind of loud, and the wall between our rooms wasn’t that thick, and having a nice, big, comfy bed to themselves that wasn’t a bunk on a rusty cargo carrier, they were both pretty enthusiastic and full of energy and stamina—lots and lots of stamina. But that wasn’t really the problem.

Other things were keeping me awake.

Ever since that incident with the Catalyst on the beach, I had been having nightmares. Dreams of big, dark shadows talking over me like I wasn’t there. Dark schemes going on behind my back I wasn’t supposed to know about, or maybe not expected to understand. People arguing and shouting words I couldn’t remember, a horrible feeling that some sacred trust had been violated, that I had been betrayed, that I shouldn’t be there, and I would wake up crying and scared.

The only thing I could ever remember clearly when I woke up was me standing, scared, hurt, crying, in an empty space, with two people I should know standing apart from me and a dark shadow towering over me, intimidating me, making the fear and the hurt unbearable. A deep voice kept repeating, "Pirates are strong, courageous, and loyal." Then it would laugh at me, leaning over me, touching me, grabbing my head in the huge shadow of its hand, forcing my face up to look at it looming over me. "But you’ll never amount to anything as a pirate, "it would say, "Run away!" Then other arms would grab me and drag me screaming away from the shadow as it stood up to fill the space with its bulk, blotting out the two figures I was supposed to know. I was terrified, but the other figures never made any attempt to help me as they faded into nothing. And if I hadn’t woken up sweating and shaking by then it would all start again. The arguments, the giant of a shadow looming over me.

Sometimes Officer Puppy would show up and chase away the shadows, but not this night. This night the nightmares just kept coming. No matter how much I didn’t like her smoothing over my feelings, I would have given almost anything to have Mrs. Apothecary here to speak her soothing words. The occasional loud moan, almost a scream, from Birch wasn’t really the same thing at all, though at least the noises help to keep me grounded in what was real and to shake off the fog of sleep. Twice I used the not so subtle sounds they were making to help me forget so I could fall asleep, because I had a room to myself and there was no one to hear me, well, except for Officer Puppy, but he never got judgmental about it. But my sleep was not so forgiving. It didn’t even give their nighttime activities a chance to intrude with dreams that would at least have been less traumatic.

When the nightmares finally stopped and I did get some sleep, all I remember of my dreams was walking through dark, empty, unfamiliar streets of Perala, wrapped in uncomfortable shadows, headed somewhere but not remembering the way.

I started the next day very bleary-eyed and grumpy.