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The Island Of Serenity
A second nightmare was being followed by someone or something; I would run into the kitchen and hide under the kitchen table and force myself to ‘go to sleep’, that way the being couldn’t get to me. The last nightmare, no big surprises here, was the family dinner; I would be trying to eat correctly, but something would always go wrong, a glass or cup would spill liquid every time I’d try to drink something, or I would forget how to speak French, or the knives and forks would multiply and turn into impossible shapes, so that I was incapable to eat with them. Always, always, Jay would be perfect, Maman would smile at him and sigh when she noticed my inability to behave correctly. For years, I’d simply get up and go into Marie-Madeleine’s room and get into her bed and go back to sleep. I don’t know at what moment Maman became aware of this arrangement, but she insisted that it stop ‘immediately’. So instead I tried to go into her room, but it was locked from the inside, I tried knocking, but to no avail, so I just curled up and waited, and waited, but she didn’t come out. Suddenly, (I must have fallen asleep, just the same), there was J.J., teetering over me. ‘What you doin’ here laddie?’ ‘I had a nightmare, I was scared.’ ‘You’ll no get tin here, come, you can sleep with me.’ I was shocked and surprised by the offer, but I accepted just the same. It was clear that he was really quite drunk, the scotch on his breath was overwhelming and he stunk of old sweat and cigarettes. ‘You’re always welcome wi’ me’, he threw off his clothes and fell onto the bed, snoring. I thought about joining him, his bed was easily big enough, but he just revolted me, so I left. The nightmare now seemed so long and far away that all I could feel was the cold and a great tiredness, so I quietly went back to my own bed and fell asleep. The next time I had a nightmare, I didn’t know what to do, so I sat down and called out for Marie-Madeleine, I didn’t have to call from long. Like a mother hears her baby crying, even from a distance, Marie-Madeleine heard me, and she came to look after me. She tucked me back into my bed, stroked my hair and sang to me, until I fell back asleep. This only happened a few times before my mother found out about this too and decided on drastic action; after we were both in bed, she locked our door, so that I couldn’t call Marie-Madeleine to me. ‘Vous êtes un grand garçon, maintenant, vous n’avez plus besoin.’  I woke up in the night, not because of a nightmare but because I needed to go to the toilet, Maman hadn’t thought of that contingency and by the time I had succeeded to get someone to open the door, I had wet myself. I don’t know if my mother’s reaction was reasonable or somehow, the sight of my standing there in a pool of my own urine, made her feel so guilty that here only way to cope was to do something extreme, but she somehow turned the fault onto Marie-Madeleine and insisted that she move out of house immediately. She was found a small, pretty house in the village, which I visited often, as even on her, ‘days off’, she had nothing better to do than look after us. It was from then on, that awoken after a nightmare, I would steal into Jay’s bed, here I would feel safe, and protected. My little brother never understood why, some mornings he would find me there, but he just cuddled into me, both feeling safe, in the arms of the other.