Do You Dream?
by Lassiter

Three-fourteen in the morning: his eyes snapped open like a trap in reverse.

The first thing Will saw was the dark.

For a moment he thought he was still dreaming, stuck inside his head and unable to wake up. Then Molly shifted beside him. A reminder of the border between what he did not see and what he could not see. He would clutch the sheets in white-knuckled hands until his heart rate returned to normal.

His eyes adjusted, eventually. The dark turned into shadows turned into outlines and familiar silhouettes as his eyes adjusted, and Will pulled Molly closer to him, refusing to let go until the sun rose.


"You haven't been sleeping," said Molly, pouring his coffee.

"Yes I have."

She touched the dark circles beneath his eyes, gently. More worried concern than accusation. He resisted the impulse to move away.

"What do you dream about?" she asked.

The first thing Will had done after stumbling into the kitchen was to pull all the curtains open and let in the light. Sunday morning collected in pools of gold on the floor, on the walls, across the table. Soon, Josh would wake and appear in the kitchen doorway, rubbing his eyes and demanding Froot Loops.

Will stared at his coffee, Molly's question echoing in his mind. It seemed the wrong time and place to talk about nightmares, so he said nothing.


If you breathed, you died. If you're at rest, you float up instead of staying down. The water held such contradictions, and these days Will swam more than he used to, trying to find in the water the opposite of whatever was inside him.

He moved through the water with languorous strokes, relishing the silk-like currents. The salt stung his eyes, robbing his vision of clarity and details, but it didn't matter. At night, after Molly had licked the sea salt off his skin, after the house became silent but for the creaks in the stairs and broken shutters, they would come back.


The hair on the back of Will's head was very thin.

"Don't move. You're in shock now. I don't want you to feel any pain."

Lecter spoke in a soothing voice as if speaking to child. As if he were a father relating a parable to his child.

"Don't resist. It's so gentle. Like slipping into a warm bath..."

Lecter jerked the knife. Will cried out and threw his head back. He was dimly aware of the sound of breaking glass, and the sting of something cold falling on the back of his neck. The breath was torn from him in ragged gasps and he stared ahead unseeing. Will held onto Lecter with as much ferocity as Lecter showed gentleness.

The pain was mind-numbing. The line between too much and nothing at all was a flimsy one. Will was beginning to discover this.

"I regret that it has come to this, Will. But every game must have its ending."

Lecter lay Will, very gently, upon the floor. The doctor was so calm and his voice so soothing that if you didn't see the blood or understand the words, murder would be a thought far from your mind.

To think they had been friends once.

"Remarkable boy. I do admire your courage."

The pain was mind-numbing. There was a fine line between too much and nothing at all, and Will was beginning to discover this.

"I think... I will eat your heart."

It happened differently every night. Sometimes Lecter would sink his teeth into his neck. Sometimes he would cut open Will's chest and take out the still-beating heart like an Aztec sacrifice, like the angels parting young Muhammad's chest to cleanse his heart of evil. It terrified Will to see it in Lecter's hands, pumping the dark brackish blood over his fingers. It terrified him more for Lecter, pale eyes unreadable, to cut into his chest and find it empty.

Every night the dark seeped inside of him. He was powerless to stop it. The knife was sharp, the blood was spilt, and the betrayal complete. The dark slipped beneath his eyelids, between his lips.

It was much more than an absence of light.




"You're talking in your sleep, babe. You okay?"

Will considered his words before replying. "What did... Have I done that before?"

Molly wrapped her arms around her husband, the palms of her hands pressed against his chest. Will could feel his heart beating against them.

"Molly," he persisted, "have I done that before?"

She kissed the back of his neck, which was peppered with small pink scars. "Go back to sleep," she said.

And, eventually, he did.


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